Good News, Bad News, And True Story on Blogging and Editors

The good news and bad news about blogging is editing and editors.

Good news: anybody can blog without going through an editor as a gatekeeper. Back in the old days we used to strive to “get published.” Now we just publish. Hooray, we’re free.

Bad news: nobody is so good that good professional editing doesn’t make them better. I consider myself a good writer and I’ve been doing it professionally for several decades. But everybody makes mistakes. Everybody who cares benefits from having somebody on their own side, reading, suggesting, commenting, and correcting. It’s just a fact of life. If you think you’re too good for editing, you’ve never had the pleasure of dealing with a good editor. Consider that an extra pair of watchful eyes.

True Story: By the time I was in my middle 20s I thought I was pretty hot stuff with journalism and writing. At that point I had honors degrees in Literature and Journalism. But I learned to write simple English (I hope) from the overnight editor at United Press International (“Berry, you write like a god-damned literature major“) named Norberto Swarzman. And I learned about structure (I hope) from a foreign editor at Business Week named Hugh Menzies, who rewrote every story into nine paragraphs with subheadings after the third and sixth paragraphs, and topic sentences for every paragraph.

And, while I’m on the subject, I have the luxury of editors for this blog, a team at Palo Alto Software, who catch errors and suggest changes.

Suggestion: If you’re out there on your own, with no editing whatsoever, maybe you could find a freelance editor as an ally. Think of innovative compensation, and maybe you can afford the help. I’m just suggesting, so don’t be offended.

Editing is a luxury, not a problem. Who wouldn’t like an extra pair of eyes?


  • Gini Dietrich says:

    I’m a big believer in the second set of eyes. When my assistant started more than two years ago, I had her begin reviewing everything for me. After about a week she said, “I don’t need to do this. You don’t make mistakes.” I told her that there will be a time that I write something in the middle of the night and do make a mistake. But it’ll be a huge mistake, like transposing a client’s phone number in a collateral piece (not that I’ve ever done that, cough!), and we’ll all kick ourselves that we didn’t have a second set of eyes.

  • Daria Steigman says:

    Seeing a lot of bad writing lately? I completely agree, that having an editor makes even the best writers better.

    Have a great weekend!

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