Does the thought of having someone edit your writing make your skin itch? Do you have a complicated relationship with writing and editing? Maybe you can remember a particularly unpleasant teacher in school who took delight in marking up the class’s papers with a bright red pen. By the end of their grading, your assignment was almost unrecognizable to you, nearly dripping with red ink.
Or, maybe workshopping your writing feels like it puts you in a vulnerable position, especially within your place of work. As a copyeditor, I know the editing process can bring out some complex feelings around sharing your work. And, as a writer, I’ve even had my fair share of these feelings myself—heck, sometimes I still do.
That’s why it’s my passion at FXN Studio to help rewrite the editing process for everyone. I want to demystify the copyediting experience to show clients that editing can be more like a dialogue between people working together than a prescription as to what’s “right” or “wrong.”
An Editing Analysis
During my first months at FXN Studio as a copyeditor, I attended a brand voice writing workshop hosted by one of our client’s content teams. This writing workshop brought all of the writers and editors across companies together to discuss strategies for creating a more cohesive, accessible voice to revamp the language we use in the messaging, campaigns, and general best practices for this client.
To practice rewriting within the new brand voice, both company teams took passages of text from the client’s website (as they currently existed at that time) as a group writing exercise. We reworked the language on our own time before the meeting so we could present our writing exercise to the group for feedback.
This may seem a little abstract, so let me provide an example. If the original text on a webpage read, “To prepare the future generation of workers, [Company Name] has introduced a new product to continue showing a commitment to improving the lives of others,” we would reimagine the text to read as concisely as possible and with the active voice in mind.
So, we might rework this sentence to read, “We are introducing a new product to prepare the future generation of workers. This product showcases our continued commitment to improving the lives of others.”
Although both passages are “correct” in syntax and they convey similar messages, there are ways in which word choice can affect how a message is received by different readers. For example, breaking up a longer sentence into two shorter sentences can help readers digest the text quicker as well as promote clarity as to what is important within the message.
Editors will spend time thinking about how they would like to read a text if they were the intended audience. This is what I mean by “advocating for the reader.” I want to edit down a text so that if I were to read it, it would be clear, concise, and visually signal what I should take away from the article when I’m finished reading it. Sometimes, this doesn’t even involve deleting or inserting words or punctuation. Instead, it can entail chunking up long paragraphs of text into more digestible, easy-to-scan paragraphs with more white space on the page.
“I’m not a writer, but…”
Our content team of writers and editors at FXN Studio looked forward to participating in this type of exercise. We were excited to share our writing process and editing knowledge with others who don’t normally practice or think much about the nitty gritty of writing and editing.
The other coworkers outside of our company, however, seemed nervous—and perhaps a little embarrassed—to take part in this kind of professional show-and-tell-type exercise.
These feelings of uneasiness became apparent to us (or at least me) when we reviewed their revised passages as a group. The coworkers outside of our writing and editing team prefaced each sharing moment with a confession of, “I’m not a writer, but…” before revealing their reworked texts with the group.
Hearing these confessions was disheartening for me. Anyone can be a writer. Everyone is a writer. And, in fact, many of these “non-writers” had already authored many published articles on their company’s website.
Putting Passion into Practice
Writing happens everywhere, and anyone can do it. Did you send an email today? Or, did you jot down some notes of important information to pass on to someone else later? Even these examples are instances where anyone can be a writer.
My job as a copyeditor is to edit copy—any copy—whether that is text on a webpage, in internal and external emails or printed text on a physical page. No matter what the original looks like or how it reads, I will work with the client to bring it in line with their organization’s branding, quality, and professional standards. All “I’m not a writer” writers can rest assured that I’m here to make them—and their copy—stand out.
Most of the time, the bulk of my editing work comes from people who were not hired as writers, and a smaller portion of my editing takes place between the copywriting and editing team. Regardless of who writes the manuscript to be edited, I approach any project with the same openness and professionalism within my editing process, and I will make sure that my comments for improvement are clear for any level of writer who is looking to improve their text’s impact and overall message.
We aim to make the writing and editing process more accessible and less anxiety-provoking for everyone. If I could rewind time to the day of the new brand voice presentation, I would have asserted my belief that everyone can be a writer, and I would dispel the notion that who is or isn’t a writer is decided by some unknown gatekeeper.
With FXN Studio, workshopping is a dialogue, not a prescriptive formula only accessible to those who have committed years to perfecting the practice. Our content and editing team is ready to lift the veil on writing to make your best message shine through to take your digital marketing campaign to the next level.