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6 things a disgruntled writer can’t help editing

by Rachel Smith
08 June 2018

I was just eating lunch with a friend who was telling me a lovely story about how he MC’ed a friend’s wedding.

“The speeches were ridiculously long,” he began, “so I made them all hand over their speeches before we started that part of the night, and I edited them right down to 5 minutes long apiece.”

Oh, the vision of cranky, on-the-warpath bridesmaids who’d spent hours on their speeches only to have a disgruntled writer slash the waffle with his red pen. I could picture it now: him saying sternly, ‘What’s this bit here for? This isn’t about you – it’s about the bride and groom, so that story about you and your husband can go… nope, no one wants to know that funny anecdote about your kids… that bit is just irrelevant… oh, and I’m cutting a few lines from the end here…’

“Was I wrong to do that?” He wondered, probably because I was laughing so hard I had nearly fallen off my chair.

But at the end of the day, I’m no better, really. I nearly started a side business approaching restaurants and cafes offering to fix up the grammatical errors and typos in their signs and menus, because I figured I was doing it so often while eating there, I may as well make it official and get paid for it.

6 things a disgruntled writer can’t help editing(Then I realised most hospitality owners just didn’t care like I did, and would probably laugh me out of their restaurant / cafe / shop / pop-up takeaway caravan / etc, so I canned the idea).

I wouldn’t go so far as to edit down someone’s speech at a wedding (my friend is particularly pedantic, even spelling out ‘you’ instead of using ‘u’ in text messages), but here are things I do confess to tweaking constantly. It’s a curse, I tell you.

  1. Editing my comments on social media. The amount of times I go back in and sub my comment because there’s a word that doesn’t sound quite right is frankly ridiculous. Ditto typos on Instagram posts I’ve had to write really quickly. And if a rogue typo just so happens to sneaks into one of my tweets, you can bet your bum cheeks I will delete that tweet and start again. Damn you, Twitter, for not supplying an edit function.6 things a disgruntled writer can’t help editing
  2. Editing my clients’ posts. I have one client who hires me to write content for her site – but she does all her social media. Every post she writes upsets me. Spaces between words and commas, typos, weird grammar. Luckily I’m an admin on her FB page so I find myself feverishly editing most of her posts. (She never says anything.)
  3. Mentally editing billboards and ads. Is the apostrophe in the right place? Usually, no.
  4. Marking up magazine features. I’ve been known to grab a pen and sub a feature while reading it. I know, I should get out more.
  5. Editing people’s text messages. If someone is using ‘your’ incorrectly, I just can’t help myself. And there’s even an app to help if you’re a real pedant wanting to make a point.
  6. Sharing subbing fails. The sad thing is, there are too many these days. But any that cross my desk I can’t help but share on Instagram. Feel free to send me any you see, too!

Do you mentally edit everything you come across?

Rachel Smith
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Rachel Smith

As a kid, Rachel used to carry around a little suitcase of pens and paper so she could stop and write stories whenever inspiration struck. These days, she writes for a living, in between running the show at Rachel's List. Some of you may actually believe she looks like a megaphone in real life, but it's not the case. Honest.
Rachel Smith
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6 responses on "6 things a disgruntled writer can’t help editing"

  1. Penny Carroll says:

    That’s hilarious – I’ve had the exact same side-hustle idea, and followed the exact same thought process to can it. If only they cared!

    1. Rachel says:

      Breaks my heart, Penny… I live to find a menu that’s mistake-free 🙂

      And just today I was interviewing an expert who had apostrophes in ALL the wrong places on her site. I was ITCHING to tell her but we ran out of time. I think I may have to send her an email or I won’t be able to sleep tonight. Hah.

  2. I’m a pedant, Rachel, I see absolutely everything that needs editing and I itch to correct it. I’m glad you shared that app and I, too, wish Twitter had an edit function – just occasionally

  3. Too funny. I’m guilty of most of these – especially putting words out in full when texting.

  4. Rachel Smith says:

    Just occasionally, Jeanette? 🙂

  5. Rachel Smith says:

    Oh, you’re one of THOSE people Darren… 🙂

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