Part 1 of my editing series
If experience leads to expertise, I should be rolling into Expert at the next exit. With all the time I’ve spent editing my (formerly) 90,000-word manuscript, I am now a maestro using my red pen as a baton. I’ve learned a lot, and I want to pass it on to you.
That experience drives this belief: Natural talent is a big, fat, not-necessarily-Greek myth.
Sure, there are exceptions. Always are. You can squawk about Mozart composing his first symphony at four. Or Bobby Fischer as a chess grandmaster at fifteen. I’m talking about the other 99.9999% of us.
Talent starts your engine. But it won’t take you to the Promised Land. Only work makes that trip. Because you must go the extra mile to reach the Promised Land, and now that I’ve traveled that extra mile, I have good news to report: There ain’t much traffic on this part of the journey.
Think of the superstars from any field you want to name. LeBron James, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett. Pick the skill, from astronomy to zoology, and study the experts. The people who stand out are the people who put the work in. Maybe Einstein said it best: “It’s not that I’m so smart. It’s just that I stay with problems longer.” That extra mile again.
I can look at my manuscript today versus a year ago, and it’s like daylight versus a total solar eclipse. I’m no more talented than I was a year ago. But I’m learning to harness that talent into something much bigger and better.
So Rule #1 for you: Embrace editing. It’s a daily workout for your writing muscles, and you’ll emerge as a stronger writer. It’s hard work though, so don’t kid yourself before starting the trip. Arrive mentally prepared, and you’ll preserver through the difficult parts.
Come back soon for Rule #2–they get more hands-on as we move forward.