Each month, the EFA’s Twitter team hosts Freelance Friday discussions focusing on different topics. All are welcome (including nonmembers)! Join us on March 19 at 3 p.m. ET for the next discussion (you can always check the Events Calendar on the EFA website for future dates). To participate, simply follow the #EFAchat hashtag on Twitter, and join the conversation! If you aren’t already following the EFA on Twitter, we encourage you to connect with us. Our handle is @EFAFreelancers.
Last month’s chat Balancing Writing and Editing, hosted by EFA Twitter team member and Boston chapter co-coordinator Indu Shanmugam Guzman, acknowledged that many editors are also writers—in the case of the #EFAchat participants, of short stories, novellas, and novels in all genres, from middle grade and YA fiction, to fantasy and science fiction, to women’s fiction and romance; nonfiction, including memoirs, family histories, essays, reporting, digital content on topics such as parenting, health, and the environment; and poetry. Participants joined in from all over the US as well as from southwest England and Ottawa, Canada to discuss the challenges of balancing life as an editor and writer as well as building and promoting both platforms.
We share highlights from that February 2021 chat here, but if you missed a chat or would like to revisit another one, you may find the full transcripts at our transcript host Wakelet.
#EFAchat Q1: What do you hope to accomplish this year as a writer?
The pandemic has affected many a writer’s output and ability to focus. As an #EFAchat participant put it “This year, if I can get one piece published, I’ll consider it a win.” Writing goals ranged from more frequent blog posts; to submitting essays, articles, and interviews for publication; to completing novella, novel, screenplay, and nonfiction manuscripts and finding agents.
These were some helpful tips people shared about setting and working toward goals:
- “Having a regular routine definitely helps. I penciled out time in my calendar for my writing time even if it’s 15 minutes.”
- “Self-care and going at your pace is important.”
- “I also realized that I had been writing from a ‘should’ mindset and feeling guilty for not doing so. So I just let that go and decided that I wasn’t going to write unless it was coming from a place of genuinely wanting to.”
- (On more than one individual returning to unfinished NaNoWriMo projects) “Not laughing over here. As far as I am concerned, you’re just looking at it with fresh eyes now.”
#EFAchat Q2: Do you edit the same genre as own writing? Why or why not?
Many individuals reported being open to different editing opportunities—whether reflecting their own writing interests or not. Oftentimes, what they prefer to write or edit may not necessarily be lucrative, so they’ve taken on projects, such as “writing health content” or “editing for business,” to pay the bills. Sometimes, one’s network or current project serendipitously leads to work in unexpected places. For instance, two people mentioned getting started with editing cookbooks when querying media and publishing companies for general freelance work. An editorial business owner thought “we’d prefer fiction, but in fact, we got some gigs from building contractors … And it turns out we LOVE writing no-nonsense nonfiction by people who know their craft.” Of course, it is important to recognize that one may need additional professional development or experience in order to successfully edit a different or niche genre.
#EFAchat Q3: How do you manage your writing time and editing time? Do you find it easy to switch between “writing mode” and “editing mode”?
Most chat participants thought of writing and editing as separate activities, with editing usually being the “easier” mode to get into as it “feels like a more set process.” Although at least one person finds it challenging “not editing my own writing while I’m writing.”
People offered different advice for jumpstarting and staying focused while in “writing mode”:
- “I use a block method to schedule time to write a book and freelance work, editing or writing. Block scheduling is reserving a block of time on your planner/calendar to do certain tasks, just like you would if you had a dentist appointment or an interview. Somehow it makes it more of a commitment, so you’re more likely to do it.”
- “I try to write first thing in the morning but that doesn’t always work out. So, I write whenever and wherever I can.”
- “Writing, for me, is a long-term process; I need the time to think and then sit down and bang it all out quickly.”
- “It’s always easier to do the writing first. Once I’m in editing mode, it’s REEEEEALLY difficult to switch back into a less structured creative space.”
- “I just joined a local writing group, so I hope that will be inspiring.”
- “It’s all about where you find the creativity and what fulfills you. It doesn’t have to be a certain thing all the time, even if you call yourself a writer.”
#EFAchat Q4: Please share how writing has enriched your journey as an editor.
A number of people started out as writers before they became editors or “realized what I really loved doing was editing.” Writing helped them “understand what writers go through to create their work” as well as give edits and feedback more effectively. One person suggested it may be beneficial for editors to let a client know that they’ve been on the receiving end of critiques before and can empathize about what it’s like for a writer. Others made the observation that editing has helped improve their own writing. As one person put it, “learning copyediting though my coursework has made me more aware of the words I choose to put I on the page.”
#EFAchat Q5: Discuss challenges of marketing yourself as an editor and as a writer. Both have two different target audiences. How do you navigate these challenges?
Nowadays, there seems to be more overlap between editorial and writing services, as well as with marketing—especially when working with specialized content such as health or business. While most of the chat participants tended to market themselves as editors first, they view their writing and/or marketing experiences as “value-adds.” A particularly helpful tip was to “target each audience separately by addressing a potential client’s pain points and providing solutions,” perhaps even keeping a few different bios on file. Understanding your target audience(s)’ different needs is particularly helpful when someone writes one genre and edits another. For instance as a novelist, #EFAchat host Indu Guzman targets her readers with a monthly email newsletter focused on the ideas and themes they’re interested in.
#EFAchat Q6: What are some helpful tips you’ve discovered when you are both a writer and editor?
- Read your work out loud: A few people offered this suggestion, especially “BEFORE YOU HIT SEND.” It’s also a way “to get a new perspective on it.”
- “Put fresh eyes on your work and your work on a fresh platform.”
- “Knowing the stages of editing also helps me ignore minor details when I’m still working on the larger structure of a piece, as a writer.”
- “Get moving! I schedule my writing and editing in blocks. When I’m transitioning from an editing project to writing my novel. I take a workout break either with yoga, pilates, a walk/run, or workout. It helps reset things for me.”
- “I highly recommend Passion Planner. This planner divides up goals and plenty of space for personal and work goals. I use personal for writing, editing for work. So I can see it side by side. Helps me manage both my editing and writing life.”