The copy changing magic of editing

The power of editing

This week, I’ve been reading Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying. As a fairly (ahem) messy and untidy person, I’m yet to put her method into practice, but a third-or-so of the way through the book, it’s apparent that the KonMari method is essentially about reducing your stuff. Or to put it another way – editing your possessions.

Editing creates space

Marie Kondo says that by getting rid of possessions that you no longer need and that don’t give you joy, you create space in your life for the things and activities that do matter to you. It’s an intriguing idea in our busy-busy-busy society where the refrain of “I don’t have time” is almost seen as a badge of honour.

And while I’m yet to start culling my possessions, the concept makes sense to me. After all, I know that as a writer and editor, editing is the difference between an ok piece of writing and a great piece of writing. Editing allows you to focus on what it is you REALLY want to say and communicate, and strips away anything that doesn’t serve that goal. Editing allows you to choose the words that say what you REALLY mean. Editing gets rid of those spelling, punctuation and grammar errors that cause confusion and cloud your message – or just make you look unprofessional.

Don't fear the red pen! Editing helps to clarify your message.

Don’t fear the red pen! Editing helps to clarify your message.

But I’ve just got so much to say!

Awesome, having a lot to say is great and can help you to develop a strong pipeline of content. Editing will just help you to structure that content in a way that is focused, structured and makes sense for the audience.

Think about Game of Thrones – the TV show – versus A Song of Ice and Fire – the book series. George R.R. Martin’s saga, with multiple volumes each spanning a thousand or so pages, is a fairly niche read. It’s complex with many story lines. In comparison, the Game of Thrones TV show is still complex, but a lot of the detail and side-plots have been stripped away. The overarching story – the key message, if you like – remains intact, but there are less distractions for the audience. If they want more information, there’s always the possibility to read the books.

Similarly, with your content, if you find yourself trying to fit too much in, or going down tangents, editing can help you to bring your focus back to the message and goal. It might be that those tangents would be better served in a separate piece of writing.

Killing your darlings – or why editing can be so damn hard

Writing can often be hard work. You sit there starting at a blank screen for ages waiting for inspiration. When the words do come, it’s like opening a door to your thoughts and exposing them to the world. I get it, to then have someone come along and rip those words apart can be painful.

Or you hastily bash something out and quickly post it on your website without reviewing because you know that blogging for your business is something you should be doing, and you figure that anything is better than nothing. But are you saying what you really want to say?

Editing can help to structure your words and just make everything a bit more clear and shiny. It doesn’t mean that it will lose your personal voice or that everything will be rewritten. Sometimes some simple tweaks in structure can make a world of difference to the flow and clarity of a document. Equally, a few word changes and a check for spelling and grammar errors can make your copy sound more professional and appealing to current and prospective customers.

So don’t fear the red pen, embrace it. If you’d like to find out more about my editing services, I’d love to hear from you.

Over to you

Have you ever used an editor and did it help to make your message clearer? Equally, did throwing out your excess possessions improve your life and make you happier? I’m really keen to know. Give me the encouragement I need to declutter my life! I’m much better culling other people’s words than I am my stuff, clearly.

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