7 Things About Editing That Aren’t Pet Peeves

by jen on February 18, 2015

sidoncounterI started to compose a list of my biggest editing pet peeves, and it got me thinking about how much I focus on the negative.

When I was in middle school, I had a friend whose mother didn’t like me. I really couldn’t understand why. I was polite and I got good grades. My friend told me it was my “negative attitude.” I had no idea what the heck that meant as a kid. I guess this woman didn’t find biting, sarcastic wit adorable on a 13 year old.

This idea of having a negative attitude didn’t seem as bad as say, pressuring her kid to do drugs or skip class. I mean, I dressed as an archaeologist for Halloween in sixth grade. Who would prevent their child from spending time with someone like that?

But you know, this girl’s mom was right in a sense — I have an outlook that does favor the negative and that shaped me into the editor I am today. However, I now have a positive attitude toward my razor-like negative focus. Rah Rah, I’m critical! I’m judgmental! I often feel like I’m living my best life when I’m finding mistakes.

Here’s the thing that my friend’s mother didn’t know. It’s one thing to find the fault, but it’s meaningless if you can’t think of a better way. Pointing out the problems is just one step. The little known secret to being an editor (a good one) is being an idealist. I might find the fault, but I also imagine how it should be.

So, instead of that deliciously mean-spirited pet peeves list I originally set out to write, here’s a list of things about editing and writing that will never end up on a pet peeves list:

  1. The English language is a living language, and it’s flexible enough to change and take on new words — like selfie.
  2. You don’t have to follow all the grammar rules all the time. End your sentences with prepositions. Go wild.
  3. Getting a turd of a piece and helping it transform into gold.
  4. Finding the shortest, pithiest way to convey something. This is the most fun you can ever have.
  5. Typos are easily corrected. However, “pubic option” is the best typo ever and should not be corrected.
  6. Flawed copy equals work for me, which equals good.
  7. Getting to be the first person to read something really, really good.

So what are some of your positives about editing?


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