I have been putting off writing this post, because I think it will come off as elitist. I’m hoping that by recognising this from the beginning, you will meet me half way.
Part of my job as a professional writer is sending away writing to get approval from people (outside my field). Too often, said people feel the need to change what I have written. And seven times out of 10, the revisions are not only not better, but actually far worse. Grammar problems, poor diction, redundancies, general convolution, nominalizations. It’s just a mess. I spend an hours going through various changes to fix every mistake.
I have commiserated with fellow writers about this, and they have similar experiences. As one of my copywriting friends put it, “No one interrupts a surgeon to offer advice, so why does everyone think they can do a better job than we can?” Granted, we’re not in school for 10 years, so the comparison is weak. But the point is there: writing seems to be underestimated as an actual profession.
Here is my theory as to why I think this happens:
1. (This is a general suspicion) If given the opportunity in a project, people will meddle with anything they can, no matter how small the detail, to put their fingerprint on it. I think it’s a compulsion to feel like one’s efforts were necessary.
2. Because everyone *can* write, everyone thinks they qualify as a writer.In my limited experience, I have found this to be false. Writing is a profession for a reason. It is a craft.
The non-elitist part to this equation (other than me not being perfect) is that writing isn’t magic; if given the proper attention, everyone can learn (even if learning involves reading a lot, regularly). But the fact is, most people don’t learn the craft of composing a written piece. They choose vocations such as engineering, mining, law or whatever, and invest time learning about those things. And even though writing might be a part of a job description, it’s not the same as taking up a career in it.