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Set Yourself up for Success with your Editor with These Four Tips

If you’ve been around at all, you’ve heard me talk about my nightmare experience with one of my first editors. She marked up my article with so much red, I couldn’t see the black anymore. I felt deflated, ready to quit. And I did quit for a while.

Since then, I’ve learned the beauty and the power of editing, even from a harsh editor. I wish that I had seen her red marks as personalized writing training, specifically geared to strengthen my work.

But the experience taught me empathy now that it’s my turn to pull out the red pen as an editor. No writer should feel helpless, dreading an uphill battle to wear the title “good writer.” Good editing empowers writers.

So how do you set both yourself and your editor up for this kind of success?

1. Get your heart and mind in a good place.

Writers often arrive in an editor’s inbox exhausted. They’ve exposed their heart on the page in the early morning hours or late nights for months. After years of dreaming, they’ve finally worked up the courage to show it to another soul.

And then here comes an editor with her thirsty red pen ready to mark it all up.

It’s disheartening for anyone.

If you’re not ready for editing yet, it’s ok to step away for a few weeks to rest. Give yourself some time and space. And when you do hand it over to your editor, don’t check on the document. Don’t email your editor every few days. Give yourself the break.

2. Know that the work isn’t finished when you submit your edits.

One of the most nerve-wracking parts of being a writer is opening someone else’s feedback. I procrastinate, bury myself in other work, tell myself it was a dumb idea to begin with. When I do finally roll around to it, I take several deep breaths and pray before I open it up.

Feedback is just hard, no way around it.

It’s even harder if you think the work is already finished. But now’s the time to finish the edits.

Remember, multiple rounds and marked-up pages aren’t an indication of your writing. J.K. Rowling edited the fifth Harry Potter book so many times that she hated the thing by the end. Even the “greats” have to edit, edit, and edit again.

3. See edits as personalized writing training.

Your editor will give you feedback that tightens your writing and hones your voice. You don’t get generic writing advice that steers you the wrong way.

The goal is not to make sure you get all of your grammar rules right. The goal is always to clarify your message and remove distractions.

4. Give your editor a whole lot of time.

Rushing a job will give you a less than excellent product. How much is enough time? I’d recommend getting on your editor’s calendar two to three months before you think you’re ready. This is also built-in accountability! If you know you have to submit your draft to your editor by a certain date, you’re more likely to get it done.

Editing does not need to be traumatic. My hope is that you actually enjoy the process!


Hey, I'm Mikaela. 

I'm an editor and writing coach. 
Want to overcome the panic of a blank page? 
Discouraged by negative thoughts? 
Want to improve your writing? 
I'd LOVE to help you. 
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