How to Handle Your Edits, Gracefully
When it comes to writing and editing, people love asking me for advice.
And I love giving it.
I’m careful about how I deliver my edits, too. I frame things in a positive way and say phrases like, “you might want to try…” or “here’s how this company does it…”
But no matter how nice I am when it comes to editing, I’ve noticed people can get very defensive.
Here are a few scenarios of what happens:
- The person starts talking immediately — sometimes even before I’m done giving my edits.
- After I’m done editing, they immediately agree with everything I said. That sounds like a weird thing to complain about, but I feel like they didn’t digest what I said, if they agree with me the second I’m done.
- They try to re-explain or justify their work. If they wrote something that wasn’t clear, they make it seem like it’s my fault for not understanding it.
Every time I edit someone, I'm reminded of the first time I got edited. That experience has shaped me into the writer I am today.
Here's what happened:
At my newspaper internship, I turned my first story into my editor. I was so pleased with what I wrote. I was sure she would be, too.
What happened next was a cliche of everything you could imagine to what happens to an intern’s first story — it was ripped to shreds, torn apart, bled.
After she was done, I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t think of anything to say because I was about to cry. I was crushed.
But then, she looked up from my story, looked at me and said, “Take this criticism in the spirit it was given…to make you a better writer.”
When she said that, I started feeling better. I told her thank you. And I started to become a better writer.