It amuses me to see how many people have months to write a paper, an article, or a book, and yet wait until the 11th hour to get it edited. In the past few weeks, I’ve received several Ph.D. proposals and dissertations to edit, many of which were due the following week or week after. A few have only needed formatting and cleaning up, but others have required major rewrites and reorganization.
Few people realize that early editing is key. Once the outline is completed and a first draft has been completed, that is the time to get an editor, simply to verify that the paper is on track, to catch errors in organization and presentation of facts early on. Otherwise, it’s like building a car and completing it, down to the leather seats and the hi-fidelity sound system, only to discover that the two front wheels point forward and the two rear wheels point sideways. All that extra work amping up the interior for nothing, because you have to go back to the drawing board on the initial design.
Design, check your design, refine your design, then build. That’s the key to success. Same for editing. Organize, draft, check your draft through editing, rewrite, and do a final edit. Simple.
So, when one is submitting proposals for writing contracts, it pays to do research before hitting the Submit button. I just narrowly missed getting involved in a problematic project, writing a Wiki article about someone who turned out to be, let’s just say “dicey,” at best. Once I had been awarded the job and more information came my way, I realized that I couldn’t in good conscience be a part of the project and would never want any association with the person or his agenda.
The upshot of the incident was my withdrawing from the project, with good will on both sides (I was dealing with an intermediary, not with the subject himself), and a new awareness on my part that I must always ask for the full facts before I bid, even if it means delaying the bid for a short while. Better to take the time and not rue the rush.
On the other hand, I have chosen wisely with respect to several other bids and projects, so I have to expect a dip in the road once in a while.
Having just spent three months working as a contract technical writer, I am happy to report that I completed twice the number of documents they were hoping for in two-thirds the allotted time. I am also happy to report that, having finished the contract with blazing speed and applauded success, I have declined another contract at Sony and am returning full time to my freelance writing and editing work.
I enjoyed the work at Sony, learning four new software programs for which I then wrote online help content for a knowledge base, but I found that I missed the variety that freelance entails. Not for me the monotony of writing about the same subject day in and day out. As a freelance writer and editor, I typically have 5-10 projects in house, which means that I get to juggle what I do on any given day. Boredom is never an option.
“Finishing” is also rarely an option because there is always work to be done. But I don’t mind that. In fact, I embrace the idea of the work floodwaters rising. The more the merrier. I am one of those people who can sit and immediately focus, whether for 15 minutes or 6 hours at a stretch. And, variety being the spice of life, my tastes are satisfied at every moment.
So thanks to Sony for the three-month experience, but welcome me back, freelance life! It’s good to be home!