I was asked to go through the final proof of an Atlas of the World. This involved looking through large, information-packed page for teeny tiny errors that someone else may have missed. We're talking errors so small that you think you might be imagining them. I was excited by this task (because I'm just a nerd that way), but was a little overwhelmed by it. And then I remembered what my fabulous tutor (for whom I have already professed my love) told us just a few weeks ago.
"There are two things you need to be when you edit: Detached and Methodical."
As I talked about in one of my latest posts, she taught us that it was a good idea to go through a manuscript with one particular editing task in mind. You're not supposed to let yourself edit for anything else, just that one thing that you've decided to focus on. That's what keeps you from being overwhelmed and from missing the things that you need to fix. I thought about that advice a lot as I went through this task: I did six sweeps of the proof, each time looking for something different. And it worked. I wasn't overwhelmed by the bigness of it. And I found a lot of minute errors that I was thrilled to say I'd picked up on.
So here are two things I learned this week: 1) Editing can be a fun and satisfying experience; you just have to take it one step at a time. 2) I need to get a lot more sleep if I'm ever going to do, you know, the writing that proceeds the editing (and so my blog posts start to make sense again).