Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

An Editor for Six Days: What I’ve learned and how I hope to apply it to my life as a writer

This post is a bit overdue, but I really wanted to get it out to you, so here goes… Three weeks after my Patch.com experience…

It was a blizzard of a week — six days, actually — of “babysitting” a news website for www.patch.com, a hyperlocal news organization now owned by AOL. For six days I put my life on hold, to chase down breaking news stories, delegate story assignments to freelance writers and photographers, edit stories and keep an eye on people’s comments, among other things. For six days, people, I was AN EDITOR.

I was afraid this was going to totally mess up my life. My writing schedule. My family. I was afraid I’d get overwhelmed, tired. Instead, I got sucked right into the website, the town, the news, the Patch planet. I got addicted. I found myself exhilarated. I’ve managed to find time for family. And to walk the dog. And even to check into Facebook a few times. Not to write. I didn’t manage that — not this time. Still, at the end of six days, I found I have learned a lot — I found that Patch taught me things that could in the end help make me a better writer.

Here is some of what I have learned:

1. You can do more than you know.

Writing five to seven stories a day sounded insane to me a week ago. Now it sounds normal. And yes, you really CAN wake up at 5:30 a.m. and go to sleep after midnight, and then wake up early the following morning, and still be okay. Who knew?

2. Fight for perfection, but then let it go.

The hardest thing for me to get used to was clicking on the “approve” button. It was scary, because I was the editor now, there was no one above me who could approve or disapprove my approval. But the clock was ticking, more deadlines, more stories awaiting, not to mention the readers wanting to read the one I was about to post. I think the six days helped me with that “perfection vs. letting-go” balance.

3. So this is what being an editor is like

I always wondered, with editors pouring so much of their time and heart into their authors’ stories, how does it feel to have your name in the background, as though you had nothing to do with the story at all? Now I know how it feels — it feels great! As an editor, I loved helping make the writers’ work shine brighter, helping to bring out their best.

4. When you step away from the desk, be away from the desk.

With such a torrent of work, I had to learn quickly how to turn the off switch in my brain. When I was away from my desk, I easily shifted gears and focused just on the family — or the sunshine when I was out walking. Whatever. Sometimes that’s a hard one for a writer to achieve, and not always desirable. But sometimes it’s good to just be with the world, and step away from the work in every sense of the word. Then, when you return, you’re fresher than ever!

5. What’s hot today is old news tomorrow…

When as a writer I work on my stories or stress over when I would achieve my goals, or when, as a person I wish I could take back something I have said or done, sometimes it helps to remember, this too shall pass. Watching the stories on the news site glow, then fade like fireworks in the nighttime sky really drove the point home. 🙂

Coming your way next week: a final installment in my series on the awesome New Jersey SCBWI conference, and a special Flux giveaway!

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July 9, 2011 - Posted by | Personal Mirror, Updates, Writing Mirror | , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. Excellent post, Katia! I liked your insight into the editor’s role. Looking forward to more about the SCBWI NJ conference. Write on!

    Comment by Clara Gillow Clark | July 10, 2011 | Reply

    • So glad you liked it, Clara! Writing on!! 😉

      Comment by Katia Raina | July 10, 2011 | Reply

  2. I’m glad it was just 6 days. You seemed to learn a lot, though. It’s amazing how certain situations bring out the best in us and stretch our abilities.

    You can rest now, right?

    Have a great weekend.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | July 10, 2011 | Reply

    • Yes, Medeia, I rested. Disneyworld was my great reward 🙂
      But keep in mind, some people do this full-time!!

      Comment by Katia Raina | July 10, 2011 | Reply

  3. What a great attitude about being in the background and helping someone else to shine! I do think editors should get more recognition though!

    And I really like your point about stepping totally away and doing something very different from the writing work for part of the day. The people in our lives deserve that. I have to keep reminding myself of that but honestly I am getting more and more hungry to get away from BIC and be actively engaged with other things and with people!

    And yes, we can go to bed late and get up early. For awhile anyway. Maybe not forever.

    Great job, editor!

    Comment by Joyce Hostetter | July 10, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks Joyce. “For a while,” you say, ” not forever.” I wish I could keep this up forever, just plow through any work, fiction writing or otherwise, and have tons of energy left over for anyone or anything else. This is my greatest ambition — which is probably impossible, but hey, a girl can dream 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | July 10, 2011 | Reply


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