Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Should Writers be Editors?
By OFW chief editor: Renée Miller
Published: December 24, 2014


I came across a conversation on Twitter that discussed whether or not writers should have at least some level of editing skills. In short: Should we edit our own work? I was surprised at the number of writers who felt that editing was something we should NOT do. Seriously?

In my opinion, a talented, skilled writer can edit. Perhaps not to perfection, particularly with our own work, but we should be able to edit the major shit ourselves. It’s OUR SHIT. Not the editor’s. Personally, I’m embarrassed to send my manuscripts anywhere knowing they’re not the best I can make them. I don’t care if I’m paying the person who’s reading it. I want them to see the best that my efforts can produce.

One tweep suggested that major structural edits should never be done by the writer; that we should only edit for simple things like grammar and typos. I almost hyperventilated at the very idea of leaving such things to someone else. Major structural problems are things that a writer should both recognize and fix. Not the editor. Sure, there may be a big problem you don’t see. After all, it’s your baby and you’ve been looking at it for months. But isn’t that why we set drafts aside for a few months? Aren’t we distancing ourselves from the story and its characters so that we CAN see any major issues? Surely there aren’t writers out there who send a rough draft to an editor…

While we can’t edit our own work to the point that it’s ready for the big bad world, we should be able to at least polish it to the point that it’s damn close to that kind of shininess.

Writers must read in order to do this. Read published novels, WIPs, and such. Volunteer to beta read someone else’s work. It’s the only way you’re going to hone those editing skills. Sometimes I’ll read something by someone else and be all “That’s it!” and go back to one of my WIPs and fix the issue that’s been eluding me for months.

Should we edit our own work? Not entirely, but a writer that doesn’t strive to be a good editor is like chocolate without peanut butter. It’s like burgers without bacon. Cranberry juice without vodka. It’s just not right.

If you believe your job is to write a rough draft and call it a day, can you truly call yourself a writer?

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