You’ve heard of National Novel Writing Month. But did you know that March is National Novel EDITING Month? Here are the best things you can do right now if you want to become a better self-editor and improve your ability to revise and critique!
Writers: How To Become A Better Editor Of Creative Writing
Take steps to become more objective. While it’s impossible to be fully objective about a piece of writing (especially your own), there are some steps you can take to improve your ability to look critically at a work. Check out this article about learning to be more objective when self-editing.
Practice your editing skills on other people’s work. The best way to become a better editor is to practice editing. Find a local writing group that hosts regular workshops and hone your editorial eye by kindly scrutinizing the work of your peers. You could also sign up to audit a writing class at a local college. Not only will you benefit from the feedback you receive, you’ll become a better editor yourself as you study the way that other people make editorial suggestions.
Read more books in your genre. Reading books by your favorite authors is essential to understanding how to become a better writer and editor. Learn to read like a writer. To deepen your study, keep a writer’s reading journal. When you’re a better reader, you’re a better editor. And when you’re a better editor, you’re a better writer.
Read books about how to edit and revise. Many great writers and editors have put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) in the service of passing on their skills. Take them up on their offer by buying and reading some of the great books about editing that are available to writers. Here’s a list of books about editing and revising that is organized by level: big picture, sentence, paragraph, and word. Ask your writer friends for more recommendations.
Hire a professional. While observing the editorial talents of up-and-coming writers can be helpful, you might discover new ways of looking at a work by partnering with an experienced freelance professional editor. Often, people who have made editing their life’s work simply have different perspectives than people who are both writers and editors.
One Final Thought About Good Editors
If you’ve ever worked with a not-very-kind editor, then you know that being a good editor is about so much more than what you say; it’s about how you say it. Whether you’re self-editing or critiquing a friend, go gently. Remember that first drafts have a welcome place in this world, and it often takes many failed experiments to find the best way to write something.
Also, keep in mind that editing is a process that happens in stages, not in one big push. While a new editor might fall into the trap of immediately pointing out every single flaw in a work, a good editor will know how to help a writer focus on the areas that are in most need of attention. The rest can be saved for future conversations. It’s best not to overwhelm yourself or others!
In other words, be sure that you’re a good editor of your own editing!
QUESTION: What is the key trait that makes a good editor?