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Editors: Not the Bad Guys

A large part of writing is being able to see your work chopped in front of you. You’ll see your long beautiful sentences shortened to 14 words or less. Those well-crafted paragraphs will be reduced to a mere 3 sentences. Your clever semicolons will be replaced with blunt periods.

It’s nothing personal. This tactic comes down to basic SEO principles and readability. SEO rules the internet. This set of guidelines helps your article rank higher in Google. Ranking on the first page of Google helps increase the visibility of your article. This can translate into more money for you and your clients.

So what is one of the major principles of SEO? Readability. The general person on Google wants to be directed toward an article they can read. They don’t want to get lost in a sea of text they don’t understand.

If they keep getting directed towards those sites, they’ll click out of them. Or even worse- they’ll use a different search engine.To combat this, Google will favor easy-to-read website content over difficult blogs.

What does that look like?

  • Short paragraphs and sentences

  • Bulleted lists

  • Headings and subheading

  • One topic in each paragraph and sentence

  • Words the general public can understand

So you can forget everything you learned in your English classes. Those fancy hyphens and independent clauses are irrelevant in the modern day.

Sometimes, your work may be edited or proofread to other standards. Editing is a very precise field. Medical writing uses the American Medical Association style

standards. So, your work may sound correct to the general style that you’re used to. But your editor may edit to a very specific guideline.

Other times, they may edit to their own, internal style guide. The style guide is made with the target audience in mind. As a freelance writer, you should have a copy of this document. If you don’t make sure you ask for it. It’ll contain their preference for tone, word choice, and other editorial decisions.

What Can You Do When Your Work Gets Chopped?

It helps to shift your perspective if you’re getting flustered with editing. Remember: the editors aren’t belittling you as a writer. Having your work sent back with lots of suggestions doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer.

Instead of taking those cross-outs as a personal attack, you should shift your mindset. The editors are trying to help you, not discredit and attack your work.

Review your work after each edit to see how your editor improved your content. A good editor is everything. I would much rather have an editor that showed me their edits than one that just published the piece for the internet to view.

Your name is attached to that article. Wouldn’t you want it to be the best

version of itself possible? That’s where an editor comes in. Instead of being defensive, try to be grateful for their effort to polish your piece.

A thorough editor can make you a stronger writer. Sometimes it’s hard to see how you can make your work better when you’re the one writing it. But, lots of editors have studied how to edit your content. They may be able to pick up on things you may have missed.

If you’re paying attention to what your editor is changing, you can work to omit those errors in the future. With time, you’ll start to see a dramatic improvement in your writing as you pick up on recurring edits. This will help you with your current and future publications.

So What Can You Do If You’re Getting Annoyed With Edits?

At the end of the day, it may take a while to shift that mindset and go from defensive to grateful. I know it did for me. There are some coping mechanisms you can use to make sure you don’t snap at your editor. Don’t forget: they’re here to help you. And they’re just doing their job.

You Can Walk Away

Take a break if you’re getting overwhelmed. You don’t have to write and edit on the same day. I know I never do. It’s always harder for me to grasp what I want my finished piece to look like when I’m still in “writing” mode.

If you feel like you still have a strong emotional attachment to the piece in front of you, take a walk. Your connection to your writing will fade with time, and you’ll be able to see with more clarity. Get into the habit of having “writing” days and “editing” days.

Take a Deep Breath Before Responding

Don’t impulsively send out a reactive response to an editor. Take a deep breath and center yourself. Make sure that you’re not going to regret what you’re about to send. If you really want to vent, type out a message and send it to yourself.

Ask For Polite, Occasional Clarification

Do you genuinely not understand why something was edited a certain way? Sometimes it helps to ask. You shouldn’t do this with every single edit. Remember, your editor has a job to do, and it’s not to teach you how to edit or justify their work.

But, if you really don’t understand an edit, and you’d like to see the reasoning behind it, you can politely ask. Make sure your tone is non-confrontational. Let

them know that you’re genuinely curious and you’d like to make your writing stronger.

Once they give their reasoning, don’t argue. This is a learning opportunity. Thank them for taking the time to explain. They didn’t have to. Remember, you’re building a network of clients. You want to be pleasant to work with. Don’t be known as the writer who berates their editors.

Let Go of Right and Wrong

Different publications can edit to different standards. Some use AMA, others use APA. Some will favor the Oxford comma, others won’t. Sometimes it just comes down to the style guide.

It’s helpful to remember that editing isn’t about “right or wrong”. You aren’t “wrong” and your editor isn’t “right”. This isn’t a moral argument. Once you let go of this idea, it becomes a lot easier to accept constructive editing.

How Should You Handle Edits?

You should handle every edit with grace and patience. Make sure you thank your editors for their work. They’re taking your rough stone and making it into a beautifully polished gem.

Submit all edits promptly and address all their concerns. If they leave you a note, acknowledge it. Don’t question their every move. Treat them like you’d want to be treated.


Editors aren’t bad people who are out to get you. It’s the opposite. They’re here to make sure your work is at its absolute best before it hits the internet. Every edit is a learning opportunity for you to grow as a writer.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by edits, shift your perspective out of that “Right Or Wrong” mindset. Take a walk if you feel like you’re still feeling emotionally attached to your content. If you feel like you may snap at your editor, take a deep breath before responding. Make sure you’re clear-headed and calm.

Remember: good editors are incredibly valuable. Don’t scare yours away.

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