Throughout my editing career, I’ve been tasked with rush editing projects. The term is defined differently depending on who you ask, but it typically means a project that needed to be completed yesterday.
I’ve taken on a 50+ page marketing project with a next-day deadline. I’ve also tried my hand at news editing, with an ideal turn-around time of 20 minutes per article. I loved the site, the people connected with it, and the idea of trying something new. And anyway, how hard could it be?
Well, as it turns out, pretty darn hard. See, the problem with rush edits isn’t the editing itself. Rather, it’s being able to edit well. Catching misspellings and punctuation problems is easy. But pondering the overall scope of the project, along with its intended audience, its flow, and the best way to get its message across? Those things take time, and they matter.
In life, I can move swiftly when I need to. I recently went on an impromtu out-of-town trip to the Huntsville Space & Rocket Center, taking a mere 10 minutes between coming up with the idea and climbing into the car. And once, when a friend fell off the roof, I was able to act instinctively and quickly, getting him to the hospital in less than 20 minutes.
But haste in editing? Not anymore.
My resume used to contain the phrase “thrives in fast-paced environments,” but that’s gone now, replaced by “implements unconditional quality while consistently meeting deadlines.” I think that better describes what matters to me, namely quality vs. quantity.
Thankfully, it doesn’t take me an enormously long time to do my best, and I know now that to compromise in that area is to invite disaster. Rushing breeds mistakes, and editing’s first rule is “do no harm.”
I can certainly charge more for taking on a rush project, but my sanity is no longer for sale.