Tuesday 9 December 2014

How an editor is like a cleaner...

It's been a while since we've had a cleaner at our house, and to be honest, I can't wait until our new cleaner starts. We have been madly tidying up so they can get through and give our house a good clean before Christmas.

Last week, I received back the first round of edits for my second book from my editor, full of things for me to clean up in my manuscript.

These two things may not obviously go together, but when we were tidying the house, the similarities struck me. Here are a few ways that an editor is like a cleaner.

  • It is possible to clean my own house and edit my own manuscript. Neither are tasks I particularly enjoy, so it's nice to get someone else to do it.
  • Editors and cleaners don't have the same investment in your manuscript/house. They are dispassionate with their work to get things done.
  • Editors and cleaners are both experts. Often what will take me ages will take them next to no time (at least it seems that way). They are also able to see things that need doing that I may miss. 
  • When they are done, you can see the effect editors and cleaners have. It's wonderful coming home after the cleaner has been to a lovely clean house. I also love it when I've been through and made the edits suggested by my editor as I can see the effect on my book.
  • We tidy up first! Before I send any manuscript to my editor, it's not the first draft. I will go through and tidy it up once or twice before I send it to her so that she is not spending time fixing up silly mistakes, instead she can focus on making sure the story flows. We do the same for the cleaner. We tidy the house so they can get to the floor to clean.
A good editor, like a good cleaner, is worth their weight in gold.

Melissa Gijsbers lives in Melbourne and writes in between working as a bookkeeper and being the mother of two active boys. She is a blogger and author of flash fiction and children's books. Her first book, Swallow Me, NOW! is now available.

Follow her writing journey at


  1. Hi Melissa

    What a positive way to think of editing. When we writers start out editors can be very scary but as we go on we begin to appreciate what they can do for us :) Congratulations on having your second book getting ready for publication :)

  2. Hi Melissa,
    I love the analogy. Neither of those two things come easily to me either. Not as easy as writing and making messes anyway. Good on you for pushing through.

  3. Great analogy, Melissa. Personally, I'd rather edit than clean!

  4. I'm another one who prefers editing to cleaning. It's a good analogy, because while I might not enjoy cleaning, I enjoy having a clean and tidy house, and I enjoy reading well-edited writing. Excellent post.

  5. Melissa, great analogy :) Many writers who are on deadline, myself included, have lived in houses that are less than pristine in appearance. House cleaning and tidying is pushed down the priority list when a writing deadline is looming. Our houses and our mss definitely need a good polish and clean up before they're ready to be presented to the world.

  6. Thanks everyone - I'm also one who prefers editing than cleaning, and I know that I need help with both :) I also like a well edited manuscript - and a clean house ;)


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