If the year 2020 has taught us anything, it is to be accepting of the things we cannot change. It has taught us to be flexible and embrace the way that life can be messy and unpredictable. Through this, we are learning to accept our circumstances as they are and try to make the best of them. But what about ourselves? Are we willing to accept ourselves just as much as we are willing to accept our circumstances?
Our purpose as editors includes—but is not limited to—ensuring that content follows style guidelines, that grammar and punctuation rules are adhered to, and that there is structure and flow. Some may say it is our job to make writing “perfect”. That notion puts a lot of pressure on editors to not only help make writing perfect, but to be perfect themselves.
There are endless pieces of information that editors must remember and apply. It can be a lot for any person to achieve with utter perfection, no matter if they are an editor starting their career or a seasoned one. We need to remember that we are not always perfect, and that’s okay.
What I hope to evoke here is the idea that we should extend a little grace to ourselves. We are all perfectly imperfect and yes, sometimes editors make mistakes. I am sure I am not the only editor who has had a “facepalm moment” upon realizing a glaring error slipped by, even after a couple of read-throughs.
Here is some advice that I have received over the years that I have found very helpful:
· If you aren’t sure about something, look it up. You don’t need to remember everything. It is impossible to remember absolutely everything there is to know about editing.
· Knowing what your stronger and weaker areas in editing are can help you to be a better editor. We all have weaknesses, and if we acknowledge those areas, we can pay extra attention to them and improve our work.
· Own your mistakes. Sometimes mistakes happen, and as editors it can be painful to realize. We can be our own worst critic. It is important to address any oversights that happen in an appropriate and professional manner. But also remember not to dwell on them.
Fellow editors, remember that there is no such thing as perfect. Do not forget to extend yourself the same grace that you extend others, especially during these crazy times. You are talented, skilled, dedicated—and you’re human too.