As a journalism student, my “final draft” is rarely a final draft. Teachers and editors always send things back with edits.
I’m not a fan.
I hate it every time they send me an email and I have to see how they mutilated my precious writing-child. I hate it mostly because I feel like it reflects on my abilities as a writer.
But, every time I open those emails, they are never as bad as I think they’re going to be. Instead, I have the following thoughts:
- Oh yeah, that didn’t make any sense, I’m glad they clarified that.
- Wow, that is a much more direct way to say that.
- Over my dead body will I remove that quote
- Oops! Glad they caught that embarrassingly obvious grammar mistake!
So as you can see, mostly positive. It’s not something I like to do, but I can always see the value of it when it’s done. In fact, when I look at the articles I wrote at the beginning of my program, I am embarrassed for myself. They are rough. I’m so glad they were not shown to the world until friendly but merciless editors set me straight.
Which makes me think that I should let people edit my life more often. As a Christian, I’m supposed to be into this whole “accountability” and “iron sharpening iron” thing. I’m supposed to be glad that I have people in my life who will call me out when I’m doing something stupid. But mostly I’d rather just have them only know surface level things about my life and universally approve of them, rather getting into the nitty gritty and straightening stuff out.
But editing is great, because people on the outside can see things you can’t. In writing, a sentence may have made sense to me, but I was researching the topic for two weeks. In real life, a behavior may seem harmless to me, but it’s really hurting someone.
And sometimes you just need someone else to tell you what you already know. For example, I constantly over-write and end up having to cut out hundreds of words. When I have Anna read my articles to cut stuff out, I already know which parts she’s going to tell me to toss. It’s just that I have grown very emotionally attached to them and don’t want to cut them until she tells me I have to. Similarly, I may be doing something dumb in my life, but as long as no one calls me out on it, I can delude myself into thinking it’s okay.
And again, the thing about accountability and editing is that they’re really never as traumatic as you think they’re going to be. The idea that opening yourself up to criticism will be a soul-crushing experience is a great lie Satan uses to keep us from growing and moving on.
So, your challenge this week is to trade papers with a partner. Let them see your life; look at theirs. Talk about a problem or dilemma. You don't always have to accept edits, but you should be open to what they have to say.**
**Obviously, only do this with people you trust, and don’t rearrange your life just because someone told you so. You wouldn’t have a third-grader edit your thesis; don't let an idiot give you relationship advice. Let’s just be smart about this.