I used to love writing alone. I didn’t like being judged. But my hunger for feedback eventually landed me in a position where working with people was a daily necessity — and that’s how I got to where I am this moment.
(Not that I’m anywhere near the top of my game yet — but I’ve come a long way since 2009.)
Writers cannot succeed alone. They need support, feedback, and encouragement. They need someone to push them to be better. They need an editor.
More importantly, they need a good editor. Someone who doesn’t just care about the product, but also the person creating it.
It’s not enough for an editor to mark up your work and simply send it back to you. It’s not just about knowing a lot about grammar and style and what separates good writing from exceptional prose. It’s about mentoring, and it’s about caring. At least, it should be.
You really can’t, or shouldn’t, be in an editorial role if you aren’t passionate about helping writers learn, grow, and succeed. The title of “editor” means so much more than most people realize. You’re not just the grammar police. You’re a teacher. A leader. Sometimes, you might even become a friend.
I’ve held many roles as an editor. There are copyediting jobs that just ask you to correct spelling and grammar, and that’s understandable — it’s the job description. But my favorite editorial experiences have all involved being able to coach writers through their creative struggles and make them better at what they do. People on the outside don’t get to see that transformation, but we (the editors) do. Not everyone loves that part of the work. But more of them should.
Do editors always get the credit they deserve for the amazing work they do? No. But the good ones don’t mind. Their job is to help turn good writers into better communicators and storytellers. On the writing side, I’ve worked with some of the most selfless people on the planet, and I haven’t appreciated them nearly as much as I should have.
To all the amazing editors out there — thanks for doing what you do. Though you may not hear it enough, there are so many people who depend on and appreciate you. Your job is far from easy. It’s exhausting, caring so deeply about those you work with. Just know we’re glad you’re here. So many of us wouldn’t have achieved so many of our writing goals if it weren’t for you.
If you want to be an editor — just know this. It’s a tough job. It has its ups, and it has its downs. But it’s worth every second. It really is.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.