Things I’ve Learned About Writing as a Professional Editor

I had anticipated that my new job as a content manager and professional editor would help me build many skills I could carry over into my everyday life. What I didn’t expect is that, despite my role not being one that’s focused on writing, I learned so much about writing through my editor role. 

  • It’s called the first draft for a reason. Don’t assume it’s done, don’t assume it’s clear or makes sense or is ready for any eyes other than your own. Look it over. Read it through. Read it through aloud. Give it a quick polish, and then pass it on. First drafts are never good, no matter how many years or how much experience you have with writing.
  • Jargon doesn’t sound intelligent, it’s just confusing. Throwing in a bunch of jargon words, scientific lingo, or writing long-winded sentences in an attempt to sound profound or intelligent is anything but.
  • Dashes should be used sparingly. Dashes are intended to leave you on the edge of your seat, ready to hear what comes next. It should never be used in the place of a comma.
  • Divide your paragraphs carefully. Constant line breaks should have purpose and intention. Don’t do it just to take up space; use it when necessary and not with cliffhanger intent.
  • Stop using broad, sweeping statements. “Most people believe…” “It’s obvious that…” These generalizations are not only exhausting to read, but any professional person would respond with, “Says who?”
  • It’s an article, not a textbook or academic paper. Leave things like constant references to percentages and statistics or long-winded definitions out of blog posts and informative articles.
  • Check your document for repetition. Repeated words, repeated statements, repeating summarizing ideas just to fill up the word count, all of this leads to something that is simply difficult – and boring – to read. Use a thesaurus, and use common sense.

Finally, and most important of all:

  • Your output is a reflection of you, as a writer. If you want to be respected as a writer, put time and care into the work you produce. Before you rush to hand in an item just to get paid, make sure it’s not only something you, yourself, would want to read, but that it’s strong enough to be added to your Writer’s portofolio. If you think: I’d never add this to my resume as a reflection of my work, make the professional decision to make it better.

Did I miss something of importance? Drop it in the comments!

xx C

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