Writing Assignment: Submit A Writing Sample To An Editor

by Randy Murray on June 28, 2013

I have often seen how novice writers detest having someone edit their work. In grad school I taught a semester of Expository Writing and worked in the university’s writing lab. I could see the physical reactions that students would exhibit as I walked them through the problems in their writing. They would cringe, draw back, and grow tense. I could see them experience real pain.

By that time in my writing career I’d been through enough criticism and editing that I no longer tried to avoid it. In fact, I embraced it, required it. It puzzled me why these students reacted so strongly. I tried to help them see the value of editing and criticism.

Editing and criticism isn’t a judgement of you, your writing, or your intellect. It is a crucial tool in helping you to write and communicate better.

I’ll go as far as this: a writer can never reach their full potential without strong editing and criticism.

Those who write and publish without it are doomed to make errors and will not likely communicate as clearly as they desired. And they will slow their growth and limit their potential as writers. Don’t do that to yourself.

For today’s assignment take one of your favorite pieces of your writing and find someone who will agree to edit it. If you don’t have a “favorite,” complete any Writing Assignment and submit that to an editor.

How do you find an editor? You can ask a fellow writer, a friend or family member, or stranger in a coffee shop.

Ask them to read and edit your work, not just for grammar and punctuation, but for clarity, strength of ideas, and style. If you are giving them a printed copy, also supply them with a red pen or pencil and tell them to “make it bleed.”

When they return your copy, thank them, read it carefully, and discuss it with them. Next comes the hard part: sit down and rewrite your work based upon their editing.

When you are finished, read your work again and make a judgement to see if it’s improved. Then thank your editor again and give them your revised work.

If you’re lucky, you’ll develop a relationship that will continue and help you to become the writer that you want to be.

The Writing Assignment: Submit A Writing Sample To An Editor by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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