Keeping an Editor’s Inner Writer in Check

The daunting task of coming up with a blog post – daunting for me, at least, now that my initial burst of productivity has petered out – reminds me why I am an editor, not a writer.

I like to write, and find that it comes fairly easy to me. But the prospect of writing for a living has never appealed to me.

(All right, it appealed to me when I was 12 and thought that I would be a journalist when I grew up. Upon further reflection, though, it occurred to me that being a journalist entailed talking to other people. A lot. Since that’s not really up my introverted alley, I realized another career would be in order.)

I have a lot of respect for writers, those intrepid souls who routinely stare at a blank screen and manage to tease sentences and paragraphs and articles and books out of the swirls of thoughts in their minds.

I can help them once the piece is on the page (or screen), but I never forget how hard it can be for those words to get there in the first place. I like to think that this mindset makes me a more empathetic editor – and it helps keep me from imposing my own, perhaps quirky, stylistic preferences on someone else’s writing.

In fact, just today I stopped myself from changing “prior to” to “before” – I like the latter’s brevity but know that sometimes cadence is more important.

It is a small victory, of course, but it represents the bigger idea: If I want an article to sound like me, I should write my own.

And then I’d hope for a nice, empathetic editor.

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