Editing Is Like Peeling An Onion

picture_321.png.scaled5001When I’m editing somebody’s content, many times people get frustrated because they think “you didn’t mark the part before…why are you changing it now?”

What I have found, is that editing text and graphics is like peeling an onion. Often you can’t see small items at first because bigger issues are staring you in the face. As you get rid of the bigger issues, you begin to see things that were there all along….but now you are seeing them for the first time.

It’s similar to entering a dirty room. You may not notice that the mirrors need cleaning and the bookshelf needs dusting if there is a giant mess on the floor. As these areas get cleared, you notice new things that need cleaning.

A writing teaching I know noticed the same thing with her students:

“I’ve also found that focusing on the small issues often prevents us from tackling the bigger ones. When I teach writing, I am always very careful to make a clear distinction between content and communication. I find that student writers must focus on what they’re trying to say before focusing on how they’re going to say it. The minute they start focusing on grammar, word choice, etc., they cease to do the hard work of revision (organization, argument, support, etc.). I suppose that polishing the content masks any problems beneath the surface; however, an empty message communicated very prettily is still an empty message.”

This process is NORMAL. The larger and more important the piece, the more edits you’ll have. Depending on the project, we may go through a dozen or more revisions. (So far, this small post has gone through over a dozen edits!)

Editing is liking peeling an onion for another reason as well…the deeper you go, the more it makes you want to cry : )

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