On writing: when hatchet jobs are a good thing

I’ve mentioned before that good editors will almost always improve your work. Writers (myself included) are often too close to their own work to be completely objective about it. It’s difficult to get outside your own head and read your work the way a reader would — and that’s a vital part of the polishing process. After all, if you’re not writing with readers in mind, you may well be writing crap.

Another blogger recently made an excellent post about working with editors, specifically newspaper editors. That’s what I happen to be Monday through Friday, so I was especially delighted to see that this guy got it.

He stood there, reading the draft, occasionally eying me over the top of the page, then pulled out his red pen. My fellow reporters looked on. He made a few quick, emotionless swoops. Then, he turned the printout around to reveal two entire pages that he’d just struck from the draft.

“Who the hell cares?” he said, tossing the pages in my inbox. “Always remember that.”

And then he shrugged and walked away.

That might sound callous to you. It shouldn’t. All writers, newspaper or otherwise, should read his full post.

Learning to toss your words in the trash is something all writers need to embrace. Learning to deal with criticism is essential. Learning that not every word you pen is gold is vital. Having a total meltdown because someone doesn’t like your work is a bad idea. But most important of all, the criticism of someone tasked with improving your work isn’t something to be frightened of, it’s to be embraced. These folks are there to make sure your story or article or book or whatever is ready to be embraced by readers. By extension, cutting up your current work will also help to improve all your future work because you’ll have those harsh lessons in mind next time you write.

That’s not such a bad thing, is it?


  1. Muse of Doom

    It's a shame most people adore the Simon Cowell model but mainly would never choose to follow his lead, huh?

    Please keep flogging the message, sir! There are fewer more valuable where writing is concerned.

  2. Pingback: Stuff Every Husband Should Know reviews are in – Your AWESOME Editor

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *