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The Magic of Copy Editing and Coaching

In my humble career as a copy editor and writing coach (academic and commercial), there are actually moments when it can feel like being a movie star...

Whether I am working with a client on an executive master’s thesis on coaching and consulting, or a speech on championing female potential, I undergo an invisible, below-the-surface transformation. I suspend my own identity and "become" someone else. For I have to enter my clients' world, immerse myself in it, see it with their eyes, feel their excitement, and apprehend what drives them to embrace their topic. When I am as excited as they are, that's when I am most effective in enabling them to express the essence of their writing.

Of course, I am exaggerating about my transformation. After all, my clients turn to me for my writing expertise. Nonetheless, I do straddle two roles and two worlds — theirs and mine — when I engage in a dynamic back-and-forth exchange of ideas with them, in which they are experts on their topic and I am the expert on writing.

With a flurry of thoughts and perceptions bouncing off the wall, this collaborative process is challenging and stimulating. It could involve articulating the research aim precisely in order to delineate the scope of the research study, finding the combination of words to get to the heart of a seminal concept, or mapping out the direction of a peer-reviewed journal article.

And it never ceases to amaze me, the magic that emerges from it. Amidst your attempts to make sense of the creative chaos, the very phrase that you have been looking for, an inspired theme that presents the breakthrough you need, will just come to you, out of thin air. At that moment, my client and I will smile at each other, knowing that it is just perfect, without speaking a word.

This is when I feel a warm tingle of joy and see the goose pimples bursting on my skin in celebration. I could almost leap out of my chair and break into a dance. You see, writing can make you feel a groove that is just as cool as any rock song, a high that is as euphoric as winning any prize. Perhaps, this is why, even though the grades are not mine, I can still feel so delighted when my clients inform me about their distinctions or the grades that have surpassed their expectations.

And then like many movie stars, I would say this about my work: “I get to do what I love and get paid for it!”

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