There’s No Need to Fear the Red Pen

A great editor is a gift 

Think back to your very first editor. 

Mine was my mom. Before my teachers read my papers, my mom would look them over, correcting grammatical errors and also spelling.

Yes, unfortunately, I’m so old that spell check wasn’t yet a thing. We did it old school. Sometimes we went so far as to look up words in the dictionary!

Once I started middle school and high school, the dreaded red pen became my nemesis. The only red mark you wanted on your paper was an A at the top. And maybe a “nice job!” for an extra boost of pride. 

By the time I started college, I was well versed in the ways of the red pen, having endured Advanced Composition in my senior year of high school. I was lucky enough to have built a nice repertoire of essays to recycle into my Freshman English class papers. My portfolio served me well, and I earned the only A in my professor’s class. 

As I’ve found my way back to writing as an adult, I’ve learned a few things about editors. I’m grateful for the ones who have worked with me.

I am an assistant editor for Miles and Minutes Magazine, a quarterly publication of the Richmond Road Runners Club, and my editor is amazing. She’s not just a great motivator. Her edits and suggestions have helped me to become a better writer. She even helps me when I get stuck in a piece. She helps me improve the way I articulate my thoughts.

Apps like Grammarly have also been very beneficial. My old college English professor cringed when I told him that I use this tool, but honestly, to have an initial spelling and grammar checker in real time is awesome. I also love the monthly summaries I get which tell me about my writing style and how many unique words I use. (Basically proving that I know how to use a thesaurus!) I guess you could consider Grammarly an AI editor!

Now that I contribute to a few different publications on Medium, I’ve worked with some truly talented editors there, too. Editors make us better. A second set of eyes, a fresh perspective on what you are trying to convey, and guidance to conform to a certain format are all helpful. 

Now instead of a red pen, I get notes in the margins of a Google doc or in private notes on Medium. I’ve learned not to fear these suggestions or changes, but to look at them as opportunities to make my work stronger and my voice more effective. 

After all, this is why we do this work of writing: so people can hear what we have to say. 

So don’t fear the editor. Look at them as your teammates. They are on your side. Editors are indeed a gift. 


Have you ever worked with a great editor? I’d love to hear about it. 

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness, speaking about the human experience, and in fighting for social justice. Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Boco Gear, SaltStick, SPIbelt, Goodr, Noxgear, and Switch4Good.

2 thoughts on “There’s No Need to Fear the Red Pen

  1. Exactly! I work professionally as both a writer and an editor (I ghostwrite and edit books). When an editor corrects me, I say “thank you” and move one. Never get defensive, it’s not professional. And before I take on a client for book editing or ghostwriting, I warn them, I am a tough editor. If they can’t take the heat, they are not ready to write their memoir.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!!! I edit my own publication in Medium and articles I curate for the RRRC’s magazine. Often writers apologize for their minor errors. No need! All writers benefit from an objective perspective!


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