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Blackberry's avatar

Does anyone work (or know someone that works) in the writing/editing/communications field? Could you tell me some things about your daily work?

Asked by Blackberry (29389 points ) July 19th, 2010

Just inquiring….....

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10 Answers

ETpro's avatar

I’m a Web developer and do some content writing plus lots of work counseling clients in how to state their value proposition, how to generate calls to action that really work and so forth. I am also a published author with one book out and some magazine articles. I don’t know if that counts, but I can tell you I love my work and love writing the most. It would be fine with me if I could grow my business big enough that I could pass off the coding and much of the graphic art to others, although I do love knowing how to do thos things and would always want to generate the art or photogrpahy for my writing myself.

Blackberry's avatar

@ETpro Thanks Jim :) I’m just dealing with that whole ‘What am I going to do with my career…’ stuff.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

Do you have a preference as to what kind of writing/editing work you would like to hear about? (novels, journalism, computer coding, scripts, etc…)

Blackberry's avatar

@rpmpseudonym I’m interested in editing novels and journals, and maybe doing research and writing a synopsis about various things.

ETpro's avatar

@Blackberry It’s an exciting time, and a challenging one, picking the education to underpin a lifetime career. What have you done educationally, so far?

Austinlad's avatar

Couple of questions: What writing experience do you have? Any samples? Have you written for pay? What did you study (or are studying) in school. Are you familiar with any marketing, P.R. or ad agencies where you live?

Blackberry's avatar

Yes this is why the decisions are so difficult. I have no experience in this field and I have only taken a few college courses (general education stuff).

ETpro's avatar

@Blackberry I would then read up on the various fields available and interesting to you, and select a college major that will help launch you in that direction. All the general ed stuff you have taken will be of great use. It gets you that much closer to the sheepskin goal. And if you end up choosing to be a creative writer, any knowledge is part of the goldmine you draw on to craft a great book. Even if you are writing or editing a scientific tome intended for a general audience, being able to sprinkle it with germane anecdotes from great literature, operas, plays, sports, jokes and life in general makes your work much more accessible, enjoyable reading.

I’m reading a great book right now by a Harvard Professor in experimental psychology, cognitive science and linguistics, Steven Pinker. The book is How the Mind Works and aside from the subject being intriguing to me, it’s well written, generally easy to grasp, and full of illustrations from every facet of the real world. Before reading it, I read another science-for-the-layman book, I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter. That was even more richly amplified with real-world examples from a staggering breadth of disciplines. and he gave away his secret. When he’s trying to think of an Opera, a Play, a joke or some line from sports to illustrate a point, he emails friends he knows are knowledgeable in those topics and asks them for suggestions. Maybe Pinker does this as well.

But don’t rely on others. If you wish to write or edit, read. Read as widely as you can force yourself to do. The wider your breadth of understanding, the more likely you will remember a clever way to drive home a point or at least think of a topic on which to consult your expert friends, or even Fluther. :-)

Best of luck with finding the right niche, my friend.

Jeruba's avatar

Here are some things I can tell you about my daily work in the field.

As a freelance copyeditor for book publishers, I spent an average of six full-time weeks per title, editing authors’ manuscripts with a pencil. It’s not done with a pencil any more, or so I understand, but the work is probably about the same. These were college and graduate school textbooks, hence at a fairly high level, but nonetheless written by authors who were experts in their subject matter, not professional writers. For the typical job I had the following responsiblities:
— read for sense, continuity, clarity, and overall structure and flow
— write queries to the author and to the production editor
— check grammar, punctuation, and spelling
— ensure compliance with house style and specified style guides
— check all cross-references, tables, and figures
— verify all bibliographic references and glossary entries
— edit bibliographies
— edit glossaries
— sometimes create indexes

As an in-house editor of technical documentation, I handled documents ranging in length from a single page to several thousand. In most cases I was working to a fairly rigid set of specifications or requirements that governed the structure and format of the document, the treatment of technical terms, and a very broad application of style that covered everything from how you use en dashes in text versus in tables to what you do when a software engineer uses an acronym as a verb. There were times when I spent half a day on a two-page document. There were times when I passed a 400-page manual in review in two short hours. The two principal concerns were technical accuracy and compliance with guidelines. Sometimes nobody cared how bad the writing was as long as you signed off and it went out on time. The market for this type of work is disappearing; somehow as the writing goes overseas to non-native speakers of English, the need for native-English-speaking editors is thought to decline.

As an editor of small publications such as club newsletters and magazines ranging in circulation from 25 to 50,000, I had a pretty free hand within the definition of the publication’s function. I solicited, selected, accepted and rejected contributions, wrote content as needed, guided rework, copyedited, dictated page makeup, selected or ordered artwork, oversaw staff, in some cases did the actual page composition myself, proofread, and checked page proofs.

As a freelance editor for private clients, I assessed the needs of the document and ascertained the expectations of the client, estimated the scope of the task, defined our mutual understanding, and edited at the appropriate level for the document and its intended audience and purpose, whether a sales flyer for carpet cleaning or a contributed chapter in a philosophy book.

In all cases I supply clean, grammatically correct, clear and readable prose at the appropriate level of formality for the purpose, an analytic article for an academic journal on the one hand and casual, idiomatic narrative for a novel on the other.

Blackberry's avatar

Thank you, Jim, Jeruba, and Austinlad. :)

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