Writing Coach vs. editor

Some thoughts on these which came up in conversation about a possible project in the future. It seems a useful summary of some of what I’ve done in the past and what attracts me now.

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I’d separate the roles of “writing coach” from “editor”.

As coach, I support you in the process of writing, with you as the ultimate expert of yourself and your work. As coach I’m not signed on for my content or writing ability, but process is my thing.

As editor, however, it’s a different story. Together we agree on process. The agenda is still yours. But the skill I offer isn’t primarily process, it’s editing your content to standards and a style that you and I agree on. That agreement is usually the challenge., and may take a fair amount of attention. I like to work with an agreement on standards and also a process for getting quick feedback as we move from theoretical to practical. One way I do that in editing is to use the collaboration function in Word for Windows. I charge by my time. Then I can give free estimates (including a page or so of edited copy) so we both have a basis on which to communicate clearly what we’re thinking before we make a commitment.

Thanks for giving me a chance to review my history … I’ve been doing scientific research and writing since 1977, though with more volume since I left the university and stopped my own research 4 years ago (August 2003). In the late 1970’s I worked for a publishing company here in Taiwan working on 2 dictionaries and a reference handbook (English /Chinese). Before going for my PhD at the University of Hawaii (UH) I was in Washington, DC working part-time for the Washington Post (I was at the Smithsonian doing my seaweed work) and the Post offered me a very attractive full-time position I turned down to go to UH. This wasn’t writing, per se, but it does give you a sense of what I’ve been exposed to and for how long. Besides, it’s a nice memory to share!

Working on my PhD I had a side business in desktop publishing. One of my projects was finalizing the accreditation report for the University of Hawaii. I am a typo magnet … a couple times I’ve been a professional proofreader but ultimately that’s not interesting work. I was an East-West Center grantee for 4 years and worked with several publications in their Institute of Culture and Communication and Environment and Policy Institute. In Taiwan I’ve designed, filled and edited a university handbook. Two years ago my primary income was final editing of medical papers for international refereed journals. I’ve taught graduate level scientific reading and writing for 10 years. As a facilitator I work with groups to creatively surface and organize their thoughts. Lots of processes for that, like workshop methodologies and various kinds of structured conversations. I hope this gives you a better sense of where I am coming from.

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