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Why being an editor is the tops

Posted in: Blog, Copyediting, Copywriting, Proofreading by Sally Evans-Darby on 26 November 2013

A happy editor

The alarm goes off, it’s dark and wintry outside, and my hands are stiff with cold as I fumble with the kettle. And yet, it’s another day in paradise. Why? Because I am one of the very lucky people who happens to love her job.

Trust me, it hasn’t always been this way. I’ve had my share of work despair; snippy colleagues, dull-as-dishwater* tasks, slogging commutes. But by some very fortunate circumstances I now work freelance, running my own editorial business, and life has never been sweeter.

I hesitated to take the plunge, as many do. That lack of security that comes from a snug employer and regular payslip was definitely scary. I felt like I was teetering on a precipice, about to throw myself over the edge without so much as an abseil to guide me. What if it didn’t work out? What if I couldn’t pay the bills? What if it turned out I was a big, fat failure? These were all very real worries.

But I did plunge over the precipice (I had a sort of abseil, after all, in that I made sure I had enough freelance work to keep me afloat – just – in the first couple of months). Here are the three major reasons I’m glad I did.

I get to work with words all day

You may have guessed I like words. I wax lyrical about them often. Words are a source of constant fascination to me. In all their different incarnations, whether an academic paper, web copy, a novel – even emails – I love the written word. And as an editor/proofreader type, I get to surround myself with them all day long, adjusting one or two here, adding one or two there. And that is pretty cool.

I get to learn loads of stuff

In the space of one working day, I could be proofreading a book about the philosophy of art, editing a manuscript about the genetic classifications of Lepidoptera, and writing a review of a jazz festival in Gibraltar (this was a real day’s work a few weeks ago). I get to dip my toe into a plethora of different subjects, worlds of ideas, discussions and debates. I like to think this will make me a Trivial Pursuit mastermind one day.

I get to be my own boss

This had to feature somewhere. There’s no denying it, I’m just better suited to being my own boss than having someone tell me what to do. Not because I’m some renegade square-peg-in-a-round-hole who’s too cool for authority. No. More because I simply prefer to set my own goals that I can get truly excited about. I like to have my own deadlines to stick to. I like to be inundated with a variety of things to do rather than twiddling my thumbs. I like to decide what work I will do and when I will do it. Okay, and I also like being able to bunk off on a Friday afternoon sometimes when I manage to turn in a piece of work early.

Everyone works differently, and freelance editorial work suits some people better than others. But it sure works for me. I just wanted to raise a virtual glass to that fact. Anyone care to join me?


*Or ditchwater. I think the jury’s still out on that one.


  1. Well, I’d have to join you in that – been there, done that, written the book. It’s the best, isn’t it – especially when you need to make wrapping paper, wrap presents and go to the post office in the middle of the day … and you can! Cheers!

    Comment by Liz Broomfield on 28 November 2013 at 8:50 am

  2. Sally Evans-Darby

    Thanks Liz! Yes, it’s great to be able to plan my day just as I see fit. 🙂

    Comment by Sally Evans-Darby on 28 November 2013 at 9:05 am

  3. Sarah Dunwoody

    Excellent article!
    I’m on that precipice, 2014 is the year I’m hoping and planning to throw myself off!
    I’m also encouraged by your variety of projects, this would make the work even more appealing.
    (I’m in the ditchwater camp by the way.)

    Comment by Sarah Dunwoody on 28 November 2013 at 9:03 am

  4. Sally Evans-Darby

    Thank you, Sarah! I definitely enjoy the variety in my work, I’m one of those people who is happiest pulling the strings of several different projects at once. Good luck to you – hope all goes well for you in 2014!

    Comment by Sally Evans-Darby on 28 November 2013 at 9:07 am

  5. Natalie Murray

    I will be taking the plunge next year! I’m very excited at the thought of a new adventure! All the best!

    Comment by Natalie Murray on 28 November 2013 at 9:20 am

  6. Sally Evans-Darby

    Hi, Natalie – good for you! Good luck!

    Comment by Sally Evans-Darby on 28 November 2013 at 9:42 am

  7. caroline whitehead

    Would love to do your job! At the moment am working with recalcitrant teenagers, longing to do the tasks they are set, trying to enthuse them with a feeling for, and an understanding of. the power of words…and feeling frustrated! How do I set about it?

    Comment by caroline whitehead on 28 November 2013 at 2:25 pm

  8. Sally Evans-Darby

    Hi Caroline, I sympathise! For some, words come easy, and for others they’re just a pain. The only advice someone like me (i.e. very little experience with teenagers!) could offer is to get them excited about words through things that speak to them – whether that’s music lyrics, a comic, a novel, an advert, whatever 🙂

    Comment by Sally Evans-Darby on 28 November 2013 at 7:32 pm

  9. MD Smith

    What could be better than taking someone’s glorious creativity and refining and polishing it to brilliance? Oh, getting PAID to refine and polish! I love my specialty – copyediting and proofreading for food writers and bloggers – it’s the best!

    Comment by MD Smith on 28 November 2013 at 5:18 pm

  10. Sally Evans-Darby

    Thanks for your comment MD 🙂 You’re so very right!

    Comment by Sally Evans-Darby on 28 November 2013 at 7:33 pm

  11. Great article…inspirational and motivational at the same time. I’m three weeks into freelancing after working as a copy-editor/proofreader in the non-publishing sectors for nearly 25 years now. About time I took control of my own destiny, thought I…!

    I’m still awaiting my first client whilst furiously developing my ‘shop window’ (website) to draw moths to my flame. I should have waited until I had some clients but my last employer took me over the edge…it was leave or kill the unappreciative, egotistical boor and I’m a pacifist and a coward by nature. I left.

    I’m currently being used as hubby’s PA which I’ve told him is both professional and emotional abuse. I’m just praying there’s enough work out there to rescue me … and soon!

    Comment by Jules Hopkins on 29 November 2013 at 3:09 pm

  12. Sally Evans-Darby

    Thanks Jules! Well, with that sort of experience behind you, you’ve got one big plus that a lot of freelancers don’t have starting out. Good for you that you are taking control. I wish you all the best of luck, hope you find that first client soon!

    Comment by Sally Evans-Darby on 29 November 2013 at 6:23 pm