The Moving Word

Writer, Preacher, Bookworm, Student of the Word

A Simple Lesson on Editing

Decades ago, I worked at Walmart and performed various duties during my five years on the job. The most practical of these tasks applies to writing and editing.

Zoning is the act of straightening the shelves, so the store is presentable. In those days, Walmart stores closed at night and we had to prepare the store for the next morning. We served in different departments and were responsible for our areas. However, many of the other associates walked around and talked while I zoned their departments, so we could go home earlier.

I became quite adept at zoning. When I approached shelves of shampoo, for instance, I would pull all of the items on the shelf to the front and straighten them. That was where most stopped. I went further. When I looked at the shelves, if something caught my eye, it had to be corrected. Standing at the end of the aisle, the eye must see only uniformity.

I spent more time going over the shelves, catching more mistakes than anyone on the crew. I was not superior to them. I just took the extra time and trained myself to be more observant.

Years later, serving as Managing Editor of Forthright Magazine, I applied the principles I had learned at Walmart. I became more involved in editing my own articles, as well as those of our columnists. My writing vastly improved and now I am not ashamed to look back at my older work.

When we complete our article, we pore over every word and line, to remove every mistake. Our eyes become insatiable for details.  We purge every error and create a perfect zone.

Successful writing comes from a rigorous editing process. Obsessively, we edit the piece until all the mistakes disappear. We must be ruthless and spare the feelings of no one. A successful zoning take all priority.

Give each paragraph a zone and master that one before moving on. We cannot skimp, to save time.

At Walmart, when we zoned on an average night, associates were lazy and tried to get away with not doing anything. They would call the manager to examine their area and would only fix what was wrong. However, when the district or regional managers were coming, we had to stay a lot later because people were not accustomed to taking extra care. They had no pride in their work.

We must be willing to pay the price, if we will be the best. Great writing cannot occur without relentless editing. We scour our zones and eradicate every impurity until the work is flawless.

This method will make the writing smoother and more rhythmic. Treating each note with care, we get to the end and find the music is beautiful to the ear. At that point, we will forget about all of the hard work and bask in the joy of a job well done.

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2 thoughts on “A Simple Lesson on Editing

  1. Pingback: Interview with Richard Mansel « The Moving Word

  2. Pingback: Writer’s Group (1) « The Moving Word

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