Editing makes you a better writer

I may or may not have mentioned it before, but I work as a writer-editor for a government agency. It’s what pays the bills. It also, as I’ve found out in the past year, helps my growth as a writer as a whole.

I also help friends of mine, who are also aspiring writers, edit their work. It has been an eye-opening experience all around, but it’s also part of my own personal growth.

Normally, many people rely on the ever-present and evil “spell check” to keep them on the straight and narrow. The problem with that is it doesn’t always work. When you write “he” and you meant to write “her” it won’t make that change. I also believe that spell check makes you lazy as a writer. As much as I love auto-correct, it sometimes allows me to skip spelling it right as I know it’ll do it for me. Even now, as I write this blog, it’s doing my job for me.

Some say this is the benefit of technology, but I disagree. I started my career as a Navy Journalist, learning on a manual typewriter and editing in pencil. That’s how it was done for decades, and it worked then, so why change now?

Sorry, I got off track there. Technology is a blessing in disguise for writers. It makes it easier for people to edit your manuscript and comment on why these changes are important. It helps in the overall growth of a writer.

At the same time, being a writer and editing another writer’s work has its benefits. You see how others write–a similar benefit you get from being an avid reader–but you also see things from a different perspective.

For example, how many different words are there for the word said and when is it appropriate to use them? These are things that can drive a writer crazy, but it’ll make an editor a little loopy too. I just edited a friends manuscript, and everytime his characters thought something, he wrote “he thought” or “she thought” down. I got to the point I stopped editing it and just made a comment to remind him to use other words for thought, like “wondered” or “pondered” for example. You learn as you edit.

That’s my advice to all my fellow independent and self-published authors out there… Connect with your fellow authors and offer to edit their work. Do it for reviews, exchange manuscripts for editing, what ever it takes. It’ll help you as a writer and your efforts will help someone else in the long run.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

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