Working With Editors

If you’ve ever read a book that was poorly formatted or littered with errors, then you understand the important role editors play in bringing quality books to readers. If you’re a new writer who’s never been edited, or an old pro who’s been burned, you might be wary about letting an editor near your manuscript.

But if you’re matched with the right editor, the editing process should actually be a relief, if not a joy. Finding the right editor is key, and it’s just as important to cultivate a good working relationship.

Find the Right Editor

First, be aware of the different kinds of editing. If you aren’t sure what editors do, or are confused by a lot of editing terms, have a look at the definitions page on the Editors Canada website. There are four stages of editing that a manuscript goes through when thoroughly edited. At the very least, you will need a structural edit and a copy edit.

Second, make sure you ask the right questions to find an editor familiar with your genre and who meshes well with your personality and is sensitive to your style preferences. Many editors specialize, so find one with a background in your subject. If anything in your initial contact with an editor makes you uncomfortable, find a different editor, because you need to trust your editor for the process to run smoothly. Don’t forget to discuss style, because if, for example, you prefer the serial comma and your editor has a sparser punctuation style, it can easily lead to conflict.

Finally, be aware of how a professional editor should conduct their business and what you should expect. Knowing what to expect can help you avoid amateurs and scammers. Anyone can call themselves an editor, but professionals will have training, regularly update their skills, belong to professional associations, and network with industry professionals. There are plenty of professional editors’ associations, like CIEP, Editors Canada, EFA, ACES, and their websites will help you search for pros.

Cultivate a Good Relationship

Once you know what kind of editing you need and have found an editor you trust and who has the right qualifications, you still need to make sure you and the editor understand your roles. Be sure to have a contract that lays out expectations, payment and deadlines.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the editing process, no matter how foolish you think they are. You will feel more comfortable knowing when you will receive feedback, how changes will be reviewed, what kinds of changes to expect and what the schedule is.

Remember that while good editors may seem super-human, they’re not miracle workers. Mistakes happen, but remain professional and courteous. Stand up for your story when you disagree with your editor, but be willing to compromise.

As an editor as well as an author, I’ve been on both sides of the desk and have had fantastic edits and horrific edits in both roles. I’ve found that it’s important to trust your instincts, be prepared, and remember that no edit is set in stone. A good edit by a good editor is rewarding and empowering, so it’s worth the extra research and work to find and maintain a good match.

Visual Writing Prompt

Welcome to this week’s writing prompt. Today there are no rules. You can sit on this email for a bit and think about it or you can simply start writing whatever comes to mind. Don’t be hard on yourself and be confident in your writing. There is no right or wrong answer and best of all, you are not being graded. If you are feeling daring, however, send us what you wrote (yes it can be short)! 

The city of lights. You fell asleep in your cozy warm bed only to wake up in Paris.
How did you get here? Is this real? After your initial freak out what are you going to do? 

Visual Writing Prompt

Welcome to this week’s writing prompt. Today there are no rules. You can contemplate this photograph for a bit or you can simply start writing whatever comes to mind. Don’t be hard on yourself and be confident in your writing. There are no right or wrong answers and best of all, you are not being graded. If you are feeling daring, send us what you wrote or simply answer in the comments.

The Shoe Tree. On a random street, in an unknown small town somewhere in Ontario Canada, is a shoe tree. Some say that a friendly neighbour wanted to liven up the yard, some think that kids were playing a prank. The truth is, no one really knows. One day the shoes were just there. So what is the real story of this magical tree?

Time to Write

Finding the time to write can be impossible, but with a careful look at your schedule and routines, you can learn to make time for it.

Prioritize
Writing has to be a priority. Maybe not the number one — things like family, health and paid work need to take precedence — but it’s got to be near the top of your list or you’re unlikely to make the time.

There are some things that absolutely need to happen in your day, and if these things occupy all your hours, trying to fit in writing probably isn’t realistic. That doesn’t mean your priorities aren’t subject to change. Maybe a promotion or a child starting school will give you that bit of time you need.

So ask yourself: How important is writing?

Sacrifice
Do you spend hours on social media or vegged out in front of the TV? Take a look at your leisure activities. What can you cut back on? Are there chores you can scale back or offload to another member of your household (or maybe just ignore)?

Social media blockers like Freedom or Cold Turkey are an excellent way to keep from doomscrolling all day long.

Get Organized
There are plenty of wonderful apps that can help you plan out your day to make you more efficient, freeing up precious moments you could use writing. Don’t let planning and organizing consume all your time, but consider some lists of big projects. It also helps to break bigger tasks down into smaller ones to make it more manageable and less daunting.

Location, Location, Location!
Find a good place to write. This is almost as important as making the time. Maybe you need a cozy corner in your living room. Maybe you need to get dressed and out of your house to be productive. That last one is trickier until it’s safe to go to cafes and libraries again, but maybe you can write in the car or on a balcony.

Play around with location and find what works for you.

Enlist Your Family or Roommates
Make sure the people you live with understand how important your writing time is. If you don’t have the same time every day, find a system you can use to signal to them that it is your time to write, and only dire emergencies are acceptable interruptions. If you’re a parent, writing when your kids are asleep is a fantastic option. If you’re not a night owl, consider getting up a little earlier in the morning to write.

Push Beyond Your Comfort Zone
Join a writing group that holds you accountable. There are so many of them out there — we even have a list [link]! If you think you might have the time, but are a little fearful, check out writing events like NaNoWriMo. Get swept up in the sea of literary abandon, throw your internal editor and your fears overboard, and write.

It’s important to understand that sometimes, especially in a crisis like the pandemic, you just might not be able to make the time for writing. You’re not a time traveller and there are only so many hours in the day, especially if you’re getting enough sleep (and you should!).

And making time isn’t always enough. The number of people experiencing poor mental health is on the rise, so be sure to take care of yourself first. See our last post [link] about de-stressing or resources on mental health [link] if you’re worried you’re dealing with more than stress.

Remember, you can do this! And your story matters. Now go forth and write.

De-stress And Amp Up Your Creativity

Stress is a major reason why our creativity often goes out the window. If you have ever found yourself staring at a blank page or doing everything but writing then you definitely understand what I am saying. The trick to igniting your creativity is to learn to calm your mind so the problem doesn’t escalate.

DE-STRESS AND AMP UP YOUR CREATIVITY

Get Up And Move. When you move your body produces endorphins which are all-natural “happy pills” for your body. Stand up, jump up and down, run in place for a few minutes and before you know it your stress will start melting away. Even better, go take a walk outside. 15 minutes in the fresh air will do wonders for your mental state of mind.

Have A Seat. Yes it’s the complete opposite of what I just said, but sometimes you just need to slow down. Meditate or simply close your eyes and focus on taking deep breaths (inhale for 5 counts and exhale for 5 counts).

Write Nonsense. Take the stress out of “having to” write. Grab a piece of paper and a pen (or crayon) and take 15 minutes to write whatever comes to mind. Yes it can be the same word over and over again. Let one word flow to the next and don’t stop.

Doodle. Have you ever found yourself absentmindedly doodling on a piece of paper? This is actually a way of de-stressing. You don’t need to be an artist, simply let your mind relax as you fill a piece of paper with patterns and shapes and maybe even some colours. You can think of this like cross-training for your writing brain.

Set A Time. If you are always waiting for the muse to hit then there is a good chance it never will. Set aside some time every day to follow your passions (not work or chores). Even if you start by reading a book, you will soon find that great ideas begin to materialize.

Find An Inspiring Workspace. Trying to work in the same place all the time can get boring. Don’t be afraid to change it up. Sit outside in nature, sit at a coffee shop, sit on your front steps. It doesn’t matter where you go, just shake things up.

Welcome!

We’re thrilled to announce our new initiative of offering virtual writing groups during this difficult time of social distancing. We want you to know that we’re here for you. We’re setting up Google hangouts to keep writers connected and help you stick to your goals. Our groups are welcoming to writers of all skill levels and these hangouts are casual and will offer several time slots per week, based on need. So please shoot us an email and let us know if you’re interested and what your availability is so we can add you to the list.

See you online!