Don’t Hit Send!

Edit Ruthlessly

Image via Dan Patterson

Since the first letter was written thousands of years ago, there have been moments of regret and embarrassment over the difference between what one wished to communicate and what was actually written. As technology has evolved, the chance for miscommunication has increased. The printing press begat grammatical errors that were replicated en masse. High-speed printers, copiers, and duplicators have all put our mistakes on public view to a bigger audience. In retrospect, this exposure was nothing compared to today’s e-mail and social media. Everyone I know has had an “AUGHHH, DON’T HIT SEND” moment.

The solution – today – as in days gone by: work with an editor. Editors have three significant advantages:

  • First, they edit full-time. They are a focused factory. Their skills are heightened and sharpened by constant use and application.
  • Second, they, unlike many of us, are naturally talented at editing. They won spelling bees, they longed for more days of diagramming sentences, they attended Latin classes, and they still find the nuances of meaning and punctuation the most fascinating of topics. They instantly see misspellings as a mathematical savant counts matchsticks.
  • Third, perhaps most importantly, they have a fresh set of eyes and an absence of topical expertise. Their perspective is like that of our readers. They identify gaps in our logic and critical details in our descriptions.

This summer, after a particularly embarrassing miscommunication, I have vowed to work with an editor on everything that leaves the office. Let’s hope I can keep this promise to myself. Remember: if I do not have time to write correctly the first time, when will I find time to revise later?

Are you looking for an editor? If so, include these two in your search.

Margo Warren –

Patricia Anderson –



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