The Pitfalls of Loving Your Work
For months, I’ve poured my blood, sweat and tears into my work. And now, you want me to hand it over to a complete stranger to dissect? I’m not sure how I feel about that. Besides, I’m an excellent writer, and I know my grammar!
No one is doubting your writing skills. You are a writer—you have vision, you think outside the box, and you are a great communicator. These attributes, combined with your extensive vocabulary and knowledge of grammar, allow you to easily put pen to paper and communicate with readers.
You diligently work many hours ensuring the right words make it to your page. You become engulfed by the writing process—and rightfully so. However, this can cause you to become too close to your work.
With this close attachment, some issues can creep up on you:
You know what your writing is supposed to say, so that’s how you read it.
It’s kind of like your knowledge of your subject matter has hijacked your brain. You can read an incorrect word or phrase the way you think it should be read, discounting what is actually written. You can liken this phenomenon to someone who hears only what they want to hear during an argument, and not what is being said.
A fresh pair of eyes can take a look at your work and see those things you can’t.
You have a full slate of information, and you like to share!
You are excited about your subject matter, and you want to share your knowledge. However, sometimes your readers just need to know the basics. An objective editor can keep your words pertinent to the task at hand.
For example, you are proud of that really well-written paragraph on how the elephant is a capable swimmer. However, that information is not necessary to inform your readers of conservation statistics. You may be reticent to discard it because you find it interesting and, well, it’s just so well written! As there is no emotional attachment on the part of an editor, he has no problem leaving it on the cutting room floor (as the saying goes). Believe it or not, this does you and your readers a great service.
And speaking of that full slate ...
Your slate is full of an immense amount of information on your subject. But remember your readers are probably starting with a blank slate.
Be aware that you may use some jargon your readers are not familiar with, or you may explain a concept but forget important background details because they are ingrained in your thought process. Having an editor look at your work provides an outsider’s point of view—the ability to catch gaps in information or potential questions before your work goes to print.