Category: Experience

The Balance of Editing and Writing with Home Life

The Balance of Editing and Writing with Home Life

How do you do it? I am often asked how I manage to balance working at home and being a mom, wife, and partner, and day-to-day parts of home life.

First, I will say, I don’t honestly know if you can find a perfect balance. Working at home is a fantastic experience, and I genuinely love it. The more office time I get, the happier I am. It has some complicated drawbacks that can be extremely difficult to overcome, and I have found a few things that you can do to help make it easier.

First, before we get into the solutions, let me talk about working at home. I have spoken with many people who do different types of work at home, whether writing, editing, blogging, crafting, business administration, etc. What we all seem to agree on is that working at home takes an extreme amount of discipline. When I started working at home, I had to figure out how to focus in ways I had never experience before.

I had been writing and editing for years. However, most of my projects were either shoehorned into my day or for a job at an actual worksite. When you work at home, you need to focus on your work completely. It required you to learn to ignore the huge “to do” list of household chores, the ease of sleeping in or going out at any time. Self-discipline is paramount. You have unlimited access to the internet without someone looking over your shoulder and 1000 other distractions. It is easy to fall into the trap of having so flexible a schedule that you end up not getting enough done or eating into family time. When I first started, I didn’t manage my email and internet time very well, so I often ran right up against deadlines.

Freedom is a beautiful thing, but boy, can it also be highly distracting. And when you set your own deadlines, you can get far too comfortable moving them around to accommodate this or that.

So, how do you find a balance with working at home? Honestly, you treat it just like a job at an office.

My top tips for creating the most productive environment for freelancing from your home office have served me well over the years.

Have a Home Office

This seems logical to many, but I know several people work out of their bedrooms, at a desk in a corner, or on the dining room table. Sometimes, it just isn’t possible to have a separate office space, and if that’s the case, then make your office/work area YOUR SPACE. Don’t let it clutter up with things belonging to other people in your household. Make sure your office has everything you need for your chosen work, including electronics, books, and resources, a few things that make it feel like your space.

Decorate it soothingly and creatively (favorite paint color, a desk that you like. Make it the perfect, most inspiring space that you can.

Don’t Do Anything Other than Work.

Don’t use your work time (Office Hours) to do other things like work on that household “to do” list. Stick to the idea that you are AT WORK, and if you were working at a job location, you certainly would not be fixing the toilet or cleaning the kitchen floors.

One of the benefits of working at home is that you can intermix your work time with household time. However, one of the biggest mistakes people make when working at home is not setting aside specific office hours. (Also, make sure your spouse, family, and friends understand that when you are working, you are busy. They can’t just drop by or call because you ‘don’t have a real job. Train them well, and you’ll have a happier relationship with them in the long run.)

Keep a Schedule

Set “Office Hours” where no matter what, you are sitting in your office working. Individuals vary, and as such, one person might require a different type of schedule than the next. For example, when my son was in day care three days a week: one full day (Monday) and two half days (Wednesday and Friday.) My office hours are 9-4 every Monday and 9-1 Wednesdays and Fridays. I make a point to sit at my desk during those times and work on something.

If I didn’t have editing to do, I worked on my upcoming poetry book or one of my fiction projects. I tried to keep any phone calls to Mondays, or do that on the off days if the kiddo let me.

He’s in school now, so I work full time and it’s wonderful. As a rule, I don’t have to plan my entire day out, but sometimes that works. You may find that you need to allow yourself a certain amount of time to read through emails, perform website or blog updates, handle phone calls, or do essential office maintenance. Only time and experience will tell you how much you need to schedule your own day.

Track your Time

It is vital to get into the habit of tracking your time when you are working. Often when you get a freelance job, your client will want to know how much time you spent working on their project. If you track all your time working at your desk/in your office from the beginning, creating the habit makes things so much easier when you need to report that information to a client. It is also an excellent way to see how much time you are spending on different things.

I track my overall office time, as well as individual project time. It has helped me become more efficient and a great deal better at time management and awareness of how long a project might take.

Dress to work

This is one of those things that seems to fly in the face of freedom. It goes against the popular idea of working at home in your PJs. I always get comments about how nice it must be to not need to dress up for anyone. While this is true that I don’t have to be as careful of what I am wearing, I do find that dressing for work not only helps my mindset when I work but also means that I don’t fly into a panic when I suddenly need to speak to a client via Zoom. I feel more awake if I go through the motions (and I generally get dressed anyway to take my son to school, so I might as well dress for the day of work). If you can work in your PJs and feel productive and official, more power to you. I find I need a bit more encouragement for my day. My typical attire is often yoga pants, a nice comfortable shirt and sweater, and slippers. It’s a good compromise of comfort and professionalism.

Find Your Routine 

Finally, one of the most important things that I do every day follows a routine. This is a nice mix of many of the other parts covered in this post, but it entails a bit more. When I worked in a big office building, I did certain rituals every day to make my work time better. I do the same at home. I get home after dropping off my son, grab my breakfast (English muffin or bagel), make my tea (TEA IS LIFE!), eat while the tea is steeping and check emails via my phone, and then once the tea is ready, I head upstairs to start my workday. I usually spend about half an hour sorting through things before I dig in and get to work on whatever the ‘project of the day is. I take at least 2 more tea breaks (As I said, tea is life!) as well as a lunch break. I try to move around a bit every hour or so (this is important if you sit at a desk most of the day).

These habits or routines are part of what makes my workday productive. Because I have them, my brain clues that this is what we’re doing, and I get more work done if I keep up my little rituals. Every part of the puzzle helps you become more productive and helps balance the freedom of working at home with the discipline required to do so well.

Until next time,

Have a great day!


Poetry as an Editing Niche

Poetry as an Editing Niche

A few months ago, I talked about exploring and Finding your Niche in the editing world. One of those very niches that I stumbled into was editing for Poetry.

Poetry is a unique form of writing. With that incredible depth and variety comes a world of different types of editing required to produce and publish poetry successfully. Editing poetry means that you must have such a technical understanding of language and words and how to manipulate them. You need to know when to ignore all the rules. Embrace the intent of the poem and poet.

Whereas some poems have precise rules that the poet follows, other free verse poetry can ignore the rules. Often, the poets are encouraged to step as far away from them as they can. The trick here for an editor is that you can find a blend of structured, free verse, and avant-garde poems in a single book. The question, then, is how one customizes the edit to the poetry in the book.

As a poet myself, I admit that I am one of “those poets” who bounces around between genres and styles. I don’t limit myself, and for the most part, that is a strength in my life as a poet.  As an editor of poetry and poetry books, I approach the relationship between myself, the editor, and my client, as a partnership. This editor/author partnership is even more true for editing poetry than other manuscripts.

To serve your client well as their editor, you must get to know them, learn from them what they want with the book. This understanding of continuity and message is not much different from what you need for any manuscript you are editing. With a book of poetry or even a poem, however, you need to understand the overall picture and each poem. Most poetry books contain somewhere between 25-60 poems. Often part of my job is to let my client know if things flow well, if the poems all fit together, and sometimes, even to help them figure out what a theme might be for them (depending upon the stage of the manuscript when I see it.)

You also need to take each poem and look at it critically to decide just how much of it you will hold to standard grammar rules.  Poetry can often be perfection WITHOUT punctuation or with limited punctuation.  You could easily have several poems that have no punctuation, or like E. E. Cummings, be all lowercase, and then in other poems in the same book, you’ll have poems asking to Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

When working on poetry, you must understand what the poet is trying to achieve. I find I talk more to my Poetry clients even more than I do to my Academic clients. Each experience that I have with a client is gratifying because of this.

Also, poets do prefer to have someone well versed in poetry editing their manuscripts. If you think about it, though, that’s not as strange as it seems. Academics want people to edit their work with experience in their field or with the Style Guide they use. Just so, poets need to know that the person editing their manuscripts understands the world in which they live. There is an impermanence to poetry, and that magic sometimes needs the rules to bend.

Are you a poet? Have you ever had someone edit your poetry? What are some of the things you experience?


The editing/author partnership

The editing/author partnership

I enjoy editing, but what I love most is the potential each experience has to develop into a long-term relationship that can last for years. Working with an Author long-term can be an incredible ride where you both share in the process and create a give-and-take relationship.

Years ago, I stumbled across one of my dearest friends Rickey via an e-mail fan group. We connected with our love of writing; we read each other’s work and gave gentle critiques. Over time, she decided to retire from her “day job” and try her dream job writing for a living.

Our partnership started out as writing partners, slowly putting together a series of books while I worked 40+ hours and she tried to figure out the publishing world. It grew rather organically to my reading her manuscripts for fun, and eventually, our ‘mutual admiration society of two became an editor/author relationship.

Today, she writes as Mallory Kane and has published over 30 books in the last decade and a half. Most of what I do for her now are Developmental Edits. She is one of those lucky few who just don’t need that much in the way of copy-edits.

What working with her has taught me, however, is that when you work together as long as we have your relationship, the partnership that you build often resembles a marriage. There is a level of trust and communication vital for a long-term editor/author partnership to succeed.

I live by real-world examples, so here is one:

In 2005, Mallory sent me a manuscript she was working on for Harlequin Intrigue. It was giving her some trouble and needed both a developmental and copy edit. I had looked at and edited at least half a dozen books for her already, and at most, I would fix a few grammar issues and sometimes suggest she add a prologue.

This book presented a more complicated issue and one that I thought would preclude it from being published. How in the world do you tell a fellow writer that they can’t publish the book as it is? I won’t go into details as for this discussion, they are unnecessary, but as an authentic myself, I will own that we ALL have these moments, scenes where our great idea just doesn’t work. The benefit of having someone do a developmental edit when this happens is that a good editor will not only point out the issues but give solid suggestions on how to fix them.

I know that I spent hours writing up solutions for Mallory. The phone call to her was so hard, probably more difficult because we are so close. Working with a complete stranger can be less traumatic, but my rule of life is to treat even strangers with respect and compassion and understand that they are trusting you with parts of their heart and soul. Be supportive and understanding yet firm, and remind the author that you want them to succeed. You are there to help make that happen.

I have often likened my relationship with Mallory as not just a friendship but something akin to marriage (a successful one) because of the level of trust we have developed with each other and how hard we have worked over the years to communicate with each other.

I hope if you are an author or editor reading this that you someday get to experience the wonderful partnership with someone like I have with Mallory.

Oh, and after setting the book aside for about 5 months, Mallory finished the book. It became one of my favorites that she wrote for Harlequin Intrigue– A Father’s Sacrifice.

She nailed it.

— Galen

You can find many of Mallory’s books via her website or her page on Amazon.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Galen Scott on various projects over the past 20 years. During that time, Ms. Scott has line- and copy-edited numerous fiction and non-fiction manuscripts, edited personal and business correspondence and handled website creation and maintenance for me. I have found her to be consistently accurate, knowledgeable, comprehensive and professional. In addition to those skills, it has been my experience that Ms. Scott is the single best continuity editor I have worked with in the field of fiction.”

–Mallory Kane, Multi-award-winning, internationally best-selling author of more than 50 novels.
Education vs. Experience: Knowing the balance…

Education vs. Experience: Knowing the balance…

So, given that I have been editing professionally for over 20 years, I have been asked what my educational background in editing is, more often than I can count. I didn’t come into this academically, however, at least not directly. Instead, my journey into the editing world started before college. My father, a Biochemistry Professor, had a grad student who asked me to examine one of her papers; it was my first academic editing experience. I was very flattered, given my age, that she asked my opinion. Meanwhile, I often read over English papers for fellow students at school.

Once I moved on to university, I continued the trend of looking over other people’s work. However, I did not consider it something I would ever do for a living. As a teenager, I had no confidence in the editing that I did of my work. I assumed that since I struggled to edit my papers, I was probably doing a piss poor job of editing the work of others. Many years later, I found out that my editing of other people’s papers was nearly flawless. Upon finding that out, I realized that there is a fundamental difference between editing your work and editing someone else’s.

During my time at university, I studied for a BA in Research Studies: Folklore and Anthropology with minors in Abnormal Psychology and English Literature. I also worked forward by taking several years of Masters Level Anthropology classes. At heart, I found myself to be a researcher, and in the field of research, I discovered a great need for editing. So, slowly, in between my day jobs, I began editing academic papers. As the years progressed, I also started writing and editing fiction too. Some years I worked more on fiction, others more on academic papers, until suddenly, in 2008, I realized I had been moonlighting as a freelance editor for well over 15 years. My husband and I talked and decided we could work out our finances in such a way as to let me retire from my day job and start working full-time as a freelancer.

So, my experience weighs much heavier than my specific editing education. For Freelance Editors, that works well, given that you tend to get most jobs in the freelance world based upon your reputation, skill, and word of mouth (networking). How many years you spent at a college or university studying to become an editor becomes less critical very quickly. Working at a large publishing company is a bit different. Often some level of educational background is required, many times with a specific focus. The professional editing world is a very competitive one. Thus most editing jobs with professional publishing companies require a BA/BS in Journalism, Communication, or English to get in the door.

As food for thought, another part of the process, no matter what area your plan to try to break into, publishing or freelance, is knowing how to market yourself.

That, however, is a post for the future; otherwise, we’d be here all day.