If you thought editors are those who just love picking on other people’s mistakes, you may be right. Another very crucial thing an editor often forgets is that it is ok to leave a piece as it is when it has the essence of what needs to be conveyed (of course, correct grammar being a given). But as important as it is to get multiple perspectives and ideas early in the process, when it comes to refining and polishing, it’s hard to replace a good editor.
A good editor is worth their weight in gold, but they shouldn’t be used a replacement for group feedback, they should act as a funnel for it. To do a good editing job, you as an editor need to have excellent knowledge of the subject. A good editor won’t inflate your ego, tell you everything is fine, or defer to your expertise. Good editors give you the freedom to fail fast by picking up on your train of thought and doing their best to clarify it and build a logical argument. Having an editor gives me the freedom to explore new ideas without consequences because I know they will bring out the essence of my idea and make it stronger.

It’s tempting for an editor to take a creator’s idea and make it his or her own, but that’s not the editor’s job. We had several review rounds where the entire team of 25 people were involved in giving live feedback, but when it came to implementing and sifting through that advice, the speakers stuck with one editor. Without a good editor, an article or publication will likely end up half-baked, and nothing ruins a good read like bad editing does. A good editor knows when to coddle an idea, when to convince you to murder your darlings, and how to explain what the piece needs and what it will take to get it there. Sometimes it’s hard to find an editor that’s willing to tell their boss the honest truth—or find a boss that’s willing to accept it. Both advice channels served a purpose, and the result was a fantastic event made even better by the brainpower of the entire team—through the lens of a fantastic editor. Especially when it’s good feedback that forces you to look at the heart of the issue and possibly make fundamental changes that require a lot of work. A good editor will put in the extra effort to explain why he or she made the changes they made.

But being open to constructive feedback from a good editor is necessary if you want to continue to grow. It can be hard to figure out whether your editor is sensing the right path for you because the right path isn’t necessarily the easy path. But if you feel like your editor is stretching you as a creator rather than just helping you knock out your work, you probably have someone worth holding onto. It’s a little hard to believe, but a lot of editors are still not comfortable with computer software and tools that they need to use for their daily jobs.

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