Too many cooks spoil the broth?
Too many decorating experts spoil the walls?
Too many editors spoil the manuscript?!
Yesterday I received decorating advice that sent my head into a spin.
Shop worker: You want primer? Why? Tell me what you’re working on.
Me: I’ve done a mist coat on newly dried plaster and I’m ready to prime it. [Following YouTube tutorial advice.]
Shop worker: Well, your mist coat is priming it, so you don’t need primer. But, are you sure your plaster’s dry?
Me: Yes, it’s changed colour and it’s good to go. [Following plasterer’s advice.] It was only skimmed and it was finished Thursday morning.
Shop worker: Even if it looks dry, it won’t be. Leave it till next week. Your paint’ll flake off otherwise. Or, buy this paint for new plaster. You can even use it on wet plaster.
Me: But I’ve done my mist coat. So, will that flake off? And if I use new plaster paint over my mist coat, will it stick with a layer of something underneath it?
Shop worker: Well, that’s the conundrum. I’ll leave you with that one…
Eek. All I asked was, ‘Where’s the primer, please?’ and now I’m doubting my whole approach.
Shop worker was trying to be helpful but I’ve had so much advice this week (much of it contradictory), it’s hard to know what to do. I’m at sea with this stuff and, while I am not totally sub-par (I can wield a paint roller well enough), I am no expert so I get a bit lost in the jargon of mist coats, priming, caulking and the rest of it. It makes me lose my confidence.
It must be similar if you’re a new writer approaching seasoned editors for advice. You come across different approaches and jargon which can send your head into a spin.
I’ve compiled a list of musings on my sojourn into the decorating world which may help new writers approaching me:
– Paying someone to do it for you is a lot less stressful. However, timescales and budgets don’t always align, so…
– If you’re self-editing, choose a source of advice you trust and respect, ideally someone you’ve been following for a while. Make sure there’s proof of the pudding in the form of successful completed projects and positive reviews and testimonials.
– Be wary of chopping and changing between sources of advice. In a flow chart of things to do, plucking one piece of advice out of context may complicate matters if you listen to one stage from one person, and another stage from another person.
– Whatever happens, you will learn from the process. If it doesn’t work, chalk it up to experience. You can save and pay for help further down the line if you still need it. And, if it does work for your purposes, hurrah! Well done!
My aim as your editor is to be a one-stop-shop for advice. Ideally I’d like to save you the stress and do your edit for you, but I know some of you are either: 1) not yet at that stage of paying for a professional, or 2) working to a tight timeframe that does not allow you to secure an editor when you need one, so I’m in the process of creating content to help you with all your writing and self-editing questions.
Everyone has a teacher whose style most suited them. More than one person can try to explain the difference between who and whom to you, or when to use (or not use) semi-colons, but there’s usually one explanation that sticks. And, it’s important to identify who it is that most speaks to you
If I’m that person, stick with me. I am building up a bank of helpful #writingtips on my website. (So far, 36 #Writingtips.) Follow my blog so you don’t miss out. If you have any suggestions for future topics, drop me a message.
I know that too many cooks can spoil the broth. Could I be your go-to cook? Could I be your go-to editor?
If I’ve left you on tenterhooks regarding the decorating, I’m going back to my most trusted source. Graham, the guy to whom I’ve entrusted most of my home improvements. He couldn’t do the work for me this time as our schedules did not line up hence I’m having a go! But, he’s still happy for me to ask him the odd question. So, Graham, are we sure my plaster’s dry? I’ve done a mist coat. What’s next?