I’ve always believed that self-refection is a really important part of growth and change. If I never question my motivations for doing something or the way I go about doing it, I’ll never notice patterns, habits, or problems that could be altered, improved, or avoided. The only way to improve is to question myself in a positive and healthy manner. Constructive self-criticism is a normal thing.
But, no matter how much I proofread or revisit my work, sometimes I just don’t notice things like repetition or structural issues or poorly-flowing ideas. Sometimes I cannot separate myself from my perspectives and I miss interpretations that others may have of my work. This is where editors come in, and I think they’re important.
As long as I have been writing—since I learned to write—I have been editing too. I have always been really open to helping friends and family with their writing, for academic, professional, or personal pieces of work, just as many of them have done the same for me. I’ve proofread more cover letters, papers, scholarship applications, CVs, and theses than I can count. I know the importance of having a second or third pair of eyes on something in order to find errors or alternate perspectives the original writer missed. Especially for writing that has serious impacts, whether it is an application for a job you really want, an assignment that you must pass to finish your education, a piece of writing about social justice with meaningful implications, a report that will decide if you get a grant, or educational material that must be grammatically perfect, having a second or even third pair of eyes constructively criticize it will bring multiple perspectives to the table and give the creator ideas and suggestions that they couldn’t encounter otherwise.
I’m new to blogging and sharing my writing on the internet, but I have been writing fiction and nonfiction since I was thirteen. I have attended writing groups and had my work critiqued by peers and friends. Even after ten years of experience sharing my writing, taking advice and opinions on board, and editing my work, it still boggles my mind that people can have such varied perspectives of the same piece of information.
This is why I usually ask a friend to have a quick read through one of my blog posts or articles before I submit them, to make sure the writing is well-balanced and easily understood.
For example, last week’s post was about how I worked through being cheated on and moved forward with my life, and I asked a friend who knew my ex-partner to read it. A few weeks ago, I wrote a guest blog post about my relationship with my insomniac partner for Rhianna Bowe’s #LetsTalk about Mental Health Series, and I asked my partner to read it. Both my friend and partner gave me excellent feedback on both pieces, pointing out that I have a tendency to be removed from my writing and rather impersonal, as if I don’t want my feelings to come into play. This is especially amusing because I’m a highly personal and emotive person in real life.
After my partner read week’s blog post online, he asked me point-blank why I only focused on the negative aspects of the past relationship and reminded me that I did love the man at one point and there were good qualities to him and the relationship. Including them would have made the story more real.
I think five years of detached academic writing for my degree impacted this facet of my current writing style.
My partner has consistently reminding me to watch the flow of my ideas and to clarify myself, my feelings, and my stake in the topic. Who am I? Why is this important to me? Why should someone read it?
I am starting to become more aware of my own writing methods, styles, and flaws, which is a good thing. Awareness is always a start. Practising changes is the next step.
I’ll relax more about sharing writing online and my blogging will become more personable and more like me!
Do you think editing is important? How about constructive self-criticism?
If you enjoyed my sixth blog post, you may be interested in my first, which is all about me and why I was drawn to writing online in the first place.