Posted by: Cecily Miniaci
I’m her roommate, so I know her very well. She loves pasta, movies, fashion, foreign men, and social media. We’ve lived together for four years and know things about each other that most people don’t. Although, one thing I don’t know a lot about is the editor inside of her. Her name is Lindsay Dressen and I bet you’ll see her name on a digital version of a women’s fashion magazine someday.
I wanted to pick Lindsay’s brain because I know how much she loves editing and magazines. My insides turn a little when I think about proofreading something, so I am taking this course to ease those pains. I know why we are best friends, but sometimes I think she’s crazy for wanting to be an editor—no offense to you aspiring editors. I admire her dedication to reach her goals, and appreciate her catching my mistakes with the ease of her pen. So I thought there was no better way to learn about editing than from my friend and personal editor, Lindsay.
Q: What editing positions do you currently hold or have held in the past?
A: I was the Executive Editor of Drakemagazine.com last year, and I was the Digital Assistant for Modern Luxury magazine this past summer in Chicago. Currently, I am a Senior Editor for the iPad version of my capstone.
Q: Are you an editor that coaches or fixes?
A: It definitely depends on the stage of the writing process that the writer is in. At the beginning, I am more of a coach, versus a fixer. You want to coach them on how they are doing, and help keep them on track. Let your writer know what to fix, but also let them know what they’re doing right—sometimes editors forget to reinforce the positives. Also, instead of fixing their problems, give them alternatives to help them along.
Q: Do you find yourself sometimes fixing instead of coaching?
A: On deadline, yes. If they don’t accept your coaching or don’t listen after you’ve given them clear instruction, then you have to resort to fixing to make deadline. Yet, if you fix, the writer isn’t going to learn anything. They will keep making the same mistakes, and not grow as a writer.
Q: What is the best advice that you have for students who are aspiring to be professional editors?
A: You need to accept the fact that not everyone shares the same ideas, nor will you make it to the top with a negative attitude. When working on a staff you need to have a lot of patience and come in with thick skin. Everyone will have an idea shot down at some point, and a story that doesn’t run. No matter what title or task you’re given, give it your all—the reward in the end will be worth it. We’re all at the bottom of the totem pole at some point, but that’s the way to work your way up in this industry.
After talking with Lindsay in the comfort of our apartment, I began to understand the role of a coaching editor. I don’t think she is as crazy as I thought before to choose this as her career path. Although, I still prefer to be on the other side of the desk. If you have questions for Lindsay on editing or her experience, visit her website or follow her: @lindsay_dd.
Has anyone else felt that they have had to resort to fixing rather than coaching? Is this acceptable for certain situations?