writing or editing

“How many tablecloths does it take to cover a football field?”

That was the single most interesting (if incredibly bizarre) job interview question I’ve ever been asked. Coming in a close second, though, is the question: “Do you prefer writing or editing?”

Most people might not find this inquiry that fascinating, except for those of us with a deeply rooted love of the written word and all things grammar-related. I really had to take my time and think through the correct response to this question – not “correct” meaning the answer for which the interviewer was hoping, but “correct” meaning true to myself and my passion for written communication.

First of all, there is writing. There can be no editing without writing. Writing requires creativity to come up with an idea, an argument, and a structure. Writing requires research to make the story work and a vocabulary to make it come alive. Writing is creating.

Then, there is editing. All good writing is rewriting. It takes a keen editing eye to tweak and perfect ideas and words into their strongest possible versions. Editing means examining existing thoughts, detecting flaws, imagining all the possibilities, and rearranging writing until it really truly pops.

It was a tough decision – but, ultimately, I chose editing. I love writing, but I love the rewrite more. It can be incredibly challenging but also extremely fulfilling. I love taking my own thoughts and finding ways to improve them – making them clearer and stronger. I love helping others improve their words, as well. From proofreading for grammar and style to restructuring entire arguments, I enjoy working with other writers to strengthen their communications. In the end, editing is a more satisfying experience.

Which do you prefer?