How Much Editing Is Too Much?
One of the questions I struggle with as I proofread and edit the blog posts that our team writes is how much I should be editing.
How much editing is too much?
Before a blog post gets published on our Todaymade team blog, I read and proof them. I try to be somewhat systematic in how I go about doing this so that there is continuity to my approach. My decision early on was that the different voices of our team ought to come through the posts they write, because their voices are how our story and culture is told.
When I read other team blogs, I prefer hearing the different voices of each author. I enjoy the difference in style and approach of topics. It tells me that things aren’t too slick and refined, that there is a level of humanity involved that hasn’t been polished down to a homogenous message, and that no PR department is calling the shots and masking blemishes. Slick content is easy to forget. Human content isn’t.
In other words, I wanted to avoid corporate-speak in our content.
Corporate-speak is easy to slip into when an editor begins editing everything to sound as it ought to (according to her preference or an enforced style guide), rather than straddle the difficult line of cleaning a post up and keeping in the voice that doesn’t sound like hers.
The balancing act comes in those moments when I read a post (or a phrase, or a paragraph) and I think “I would like to rewrite this.” Each author has pet phrases that I may not like that I want to be rid of across the board. In my mind, it makes it better. I could argue why this should be so, some of which would be valid. I could say it was for better SEO, or that I was making the copy stronger, more solid.
Am I making it better, or just according to my preference?
By making it a subjective “better” I run the risk of losing some of the personality of the author. Word choices, sentence length, cadence, rhythm, closing statement — should I adjust it so I like it? Should I adjust purely with an eye on SEO? Should I make it align with a predetermined pattern? Should I make it noticeably similar to other posts? Should it fit my definition of good writing?
The answer, some of the time, is yes. And some of the time, no.
There are many famous authors known for excess verbiage and run-on sentences who might not pass such editorial restrictions. Does a blog have room for that kind of flexible creativity, or should that be saved for books only? Should we cater purely to lean, tight writing that’s short and broken into small paragraphs because people won’t read anything else?
I have a kind of informal style guide that includes a few basics, such as how to break before the “read more” link. It’s not a formal (or traditional) corporate style guide by any means.
The purpose of it is more structural and basic, meant to get the content to be similar in the arrangement of elements, along with some basic grammar considerations. It leaves open a lot of leeway for writers. My natural inclination is to edit minimally and let the author’s voice come through. The grammar and spelling, yes, I’ll edit that strictly, but the mechanics, not quite as much.
You will have to decide for your own blog, of course. Is differentiation in style and voice something that would strengthen it and promote the team aspect? Or, do you want only one unified voice? The answer will dictate how much editing is too much.
How much do you edit your posts? Why?