Over the past year, I’ve started sharing my writing more than I ever have in the past. Whether it’s been for my regular job, or an article I recently wrote about the clothing store I work for, or the free-lance articles I’ve submitted to online blogs, I’ve been braver about getting my work out there. Although this process of pitching ideas, writing them out, and sending them off has been fun and rewarding, it’s also come with a few learning curves and has taught me a lot about the editorial process.
If you’ve never submitted your work to an online blog or magazine, then you wouldn’t know this — your writing will most likely be HEAVILY edited. This isn’t because your writing is bad or your style of writing is fundamentally flawed, it’s easy to feel a little hurt when someone wants to change or even worse eliminate some of your words and ideas. But here are some ways I’ve gotten better at accepting and understanding the criticism (which often times isn’t even criticism).
Remember: No one has cut off your arm!
Your writing is not you. When someone shifts your phrasing or cuts a sentence or two, they are not stealing a part of your body or telling you that you are not good. They are neatening your work and making your work make sense to them and make sense to the type of person that they understand to be their readership. So suck it up and quit being so sensitive. Your work might feel close to your soul and that’s a beautiful thing, but in reality it isn’t your soul, so don’t mourn a word like you would a piece of yourself. Begin to divorce yourself from your work – not entirely but just enough so you don’t feel so close to it that every thing someone says about it makes you feel like you’re being poked.
Be honest with an editor.
If it feels like an editor wrecked your idea or made your work something you REALLY don’t want your name attached to you need to say something. Not all magazines and blogs are lovely, but sometimes they are, some editors will take the time to explain their edits. If you can find the appropriate and polite phrasing, get in touch with an editor and let them know that your work doesn’t feel like it’s yours anymore, or maybe they misinterpreted your ideas. You can even ask them to explain where your voice differs from their magazine and if you can try to more closely align your ideas with something their readers would like. But if you don’t want something to be published under your name – it is OK to stop it. Maybe you try to publish somewhere else next time or maybe you work with the editor to get across whatever it is you intended your writing to mean but honesty (gentle honesty) is often the best policy and sometimes it’s ok to ask to stop a story.
Don’t get discouraged.
This is similar to not taking things so personally. Don’t let one heavy hand ruin your feelings about writing or your writing. Remember, most magazines or blogs or even publishers are normally trying to create or already have an established brand and an expected readership. Their edits to your work are most likely not your mistakes or poor writing, they are efforts to match your tone with the rest of their articles and make your writing match with their intended brand. Which leads to my next point.
Move on if you must!
If you are getting edited too heavily with a particular blog or website or whatever after multiple contributions, maybe it’s time to start looking for another site. It’s important to write for an online blog or magazine that you actually like and one you think your style and interests seem to match. If you really, really hate men and writing about men and their interests – don’t write for a men’s magazine, you will be miserable and you might experience this heavy editing. So don’t get discouraged, try a few more times with the blog or magazine you are currently working with but if it doesn’t feel like a great fit it might be time to move on.
Keep being creative. No matter what.
Maybe you keep getting edited or maybe you just have a weird and quirky style, and you don’t know where it would fit but you want to keep writing. This is the time when you can decide why you write and who you write for. If you keep having trouble but still like writing and are fond of your own writing or just want to continue to grow as a writer — keep writing. Maybe you should start your own blog, or just write a little bit for yourself before you dive back in to your attempts at getting published. Enjoy writing again and take the stress away, sometimes free writing can yield stronger results because the pressure is off. Whatever the case, if you love writing, keep at it.
I guess that’s all for now! I wish you luck with all your writing endeavors. It’s hard work and sometimes it takes a lot of tries – I can certainly say it has for me, but it’s really satisfying when your work is well-received and when you feel proud of something you’ve written!