I believed in my ability to craft a good sentence for a brief moment. Then my work was returned with scribbles, strikethroughs and corrections in the margins. My voice felt stifled by the edits—my fear and idea of who an editor is and what an editor does was unfairly framed. The budding artist in me wilted and resigned to create privately, or at least in my own tiny space on the internet.
Running my own blog protected me from what I feared most: Criticism and rejection. It didn’t matter if things weren’t perfect, as long as the message got out and hearts were encouraged. I didn’t worry about grammar or push myself to probe deeper. My content was superficial; I was content. But I knew I wasn’t fully doing what God called me to. It was His creation that lured me into obedience.
What if God just slapped a sunset in the sky? What if all flowers were the same shape, size and color? The power of the ocean and the carefully-created ecosystems provoked my heart to wonder: God doesn’t just get a job done to cross it off the list. His work is excellent. A longing began to grow in my heart for more; I wanted to create well in honour of my Creator.
But growing isn’t easy or comfortable.
Growing as a creative means stepping into a new realm of vulnerability and trust. As a writer it means honing my craft—often submitting it to an editor who may select or reject my work. Rejection is sometimes easier, but selection opens opportunities to grow. I began to realize good editors are like personal trainers. They push creatives further into their work. It’s tedious, consuming, difficult and totally worth it.
Here are five truths I’ve learned from working with good editors.
- Creating is a shared process. Regardless of the medium, creative arts evoke a response and require feedback. When we enlist the help of editors, we’re partnering to refine our work so that our audience will experience something specific.
- A good editor will hone your message. An editor’s job isn’t to argue or criticize, but to question and probe. Stepping out of our creative hole to see things from another perspective is grueling, but by doing so our message becomes clearer—to us and our audience. Finding the weakness in our art—and often our hearts—is painful. Digging deeper is difficult, but at the end of the process our message is clear.
- A good editor is trustworthy. Putting my words out for others to read is the equivalent to walking around naked. Working with an editor leads me to new depths of vulnerability. I must trust that an editor will understand the subtleties of my message and advocate for my ideas. She even understands ideas buried deep and is able to draw them out.
- A good editor has a good bedside manner. Most editors are writers and empathize with a writer’s vulnerability. She understands this is your baby and takes care to communicate gently, though clearly. In turn, a good writer doesn’t take things personally (or tries very hard not to).
- A good editor can say it better. Don’t throw tomatoes yet. By the time your work is in the hands of an editor, your energy levels are depleted from incubating, laboring and birthing an idea. You’re fatigued and an editor comes in with fresh energy and eyes for the piece. A good editor doesn’t censor a voice but draws it out and sands the rough edges. In doing so, she may be able to say something better. It isn’t creative treason to incorporate her suggestions and ideas.
Pride distanced me from progress for years. By taking a gigantic vulnerable leap I realized all those red marks are fine chisels clearly defining my heart’s message. I fell in love. It wasn’t love at first sight, but it was a slowly unfurling process as I learned I could trust my work in the editor’s hands.
Are you ready to take that leap? Put yourself out there and find your fullest voice with an editor’s constructive feedback.
AUTHOR: Julie Holly
Julie Holly is a member of Redbud Writers Guild, contributor at Start Marriage Right and writer for Peacequility.com where she nurtures the wellspring of life while tackling the gritty realities life (and sinful hearts) produce. Her second chance marriage has blessed her with an encouraging husband, two vivacious kids and a loving lab that keep her on her toes.