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Editing as coaching

Editing can be a powerful tool to help a writer improve, but it needs a specific approach to be effective.

Feedback needs to be:

  • Verbose Don't just fix, explain the reasoning behind the fix and give context to help the writer avoid making the same mistake in the future.
  • Timely Feedback is most helpful when the thought process the writer followed in writing is still active, and they can consolidate the editor's input with it.
  • Personalized The writer and editor must have formed a professional relationship based on previous interactions.
  • Supportive Feedback should motivate the writer to improve their skill, not leave them feeling attacked or annoyed.
  • Selective Give the writer feedback in the context of their overall skill level. Don't overexplain something that is clearly a minor, once-off error or a concept that is somewhat nuanced and advanced when the writer is still making more basic mistakes. The editor should choose their battles carefully.

Feedback can take different forms, depending on the extent and type.

  • Suggested edits with comments for minor changes are often sufficient.
  • A recorded video of the editor's screen while they talk through their thoughts while editing the article can be helpful.
  • 1:1 meeting allows the writer to also ask for more context and clarification of edits and is often more memorable for the writer.