Editor-in-Chief: The Reader’s Advocate

An Editor-in-Chief evaluates what’s best for the reader in ways a writer does not …

Discover why a writer’s “final” draft is different than an Editor-in-Chief’s “final” draft.

In this 15-minute episode, I discuss:

  • Why you need to always delete text from your “final” draft
  • How to keep your readers in your “created reality”
  • How to appreciate (and use) all of your ideas, even if you delete them from where they originally appear
  • Why I don’t care about my audience in order to care about my audience
  • What you can do if you don’t know who your readers are
  • How to write without pressure, regardless of the size of your audience

The Show Notes

Editor-in-Chief: The Reader’s Advocate

Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.

Stefanie Flaxman: Hello, Editor-in-Chiefs. I’m Stefanie Flaxman, and you are listening to Editor-in-Chief, the weekly audio broadcast that delivers the art of writing, updated for the digital age, to help you become a stronger media producer.

I have good news. My toilet is fine, as of now. Right now, my toilet is still fine. In last week’s episode, I was talking about something that was going on with my toilet and how my experiment was like something that you can do when you’re experimenting with your writing. If you have not listened to that episode, you can go back and listen to it now. I will wait. Just kidding. I won’t wait. I will keep talking, but you can pause me at any time. You are in control. It’s all up to you.

Last week’s episode is called “What’s Your Favorite Word?” and you can go back and listen to that. Last week’s episode was about you, about us as creators, and evaluating our choices.

Today’s episode is going to balance that out a little bit, the flipside of the that: our audience, our readers, our listeners, if you’re a podcaster. This is why we do things, in a sense. Or rather, our audience, our readers, or our listeners, they keep us going. They enable us to keep doing what we love to do. So thank you, audience. I appreciate you, audience.

We want to take these people — because ‘audience’ is a little impersonal — these individuals, these people, these motivated, talented, thoughtful, sensitive people, and we want to be looking out for them with what we create. That is a big job for you as the Editor-in-Chief.

When you put on your Editor-in-Chief hat, you become the reader’s advocate. You make sure that everything on the page, all the text that you produce, is there to serve the reader and guide the reader and meet your goals as a writer and help your reader achieve his or her goals.

What does it mean when you have to cut something out of writing? Why would you cut something out of writing? Someone turns in a draft to you, or you are reviewing something that you wrote. You like it. You’re happy with it. Why would you cut something out? It’s done. Publish it.

Why You Need to Always Delete Text from Your “Final” Draft

Editors know that what you have in front of you in a final draft is not always final. ‘Final’ is a little misleading when you think you have a final draft, because that final draft, again, may not necessarily have been created with the best outcome for the reader in mind. So you need to go back and evaluate what you’re doing.

In the first episode of Editor-in-Chief, I said that when I cut something out when I’m editing, it has nothing to do with whether it is good or bad. It’s not bad if something is cut out of your writing, by yourself or your editor, or not good. Those are very limited, narrow-minded ways of thinking of cutting out text from your writing. It’s almost amateurish, I would say, because a lot of good things need to be cut from writing in order for you to guide the reader along smoothly.

I go off on a lot of tangents here on Editor-in-Chief, in an audio context. I don’t think it’s terribly harmful. Listen to last week’s episode. I talk about ‘terribly’ on that episode, too. I’d be happy if you jumped over there and did that. In text, it’s a completely different environment to connect with someone. It’s a lot different than audio, and you need to be precise. You need to not take the reader out of your created reality because they are clicking off on other things. I say that all the time.

How to Keep Your Readers in Your ‘Created Reality’

The concept of your “created reality” I get from my dad. My dad works with screenplays. He helps prepare screenplays so that people can pitch them to studios and things like that — getting them in shape. One of the things that he talks about — and this applies to your content marketing, too, with competing for attention online — is he helps the writer make a screenplay so that every single line keeps the studio reader, assuming it gets to that point, in the writer’s created reality. There’s no moment where you’re out of this world that the screenwriter has created. You are in that created reality.

And I think it’s really great advice for any type of writing, because there are these tangents that we get on, and sometimes they’re not even tangents. They’re just like, “Oh I want to talk about this, so I’ll stick it in here.” But it really trips the reader up. It doesn’t make the journey as smooth as it could be.

So the editor needs to come in and be the reader’s advocate and have this outside perspective of, “You know what? That’s a really great quote, and that’s a really funny story, but it doesn’t have the right place in this piece. It will take the reader out of the created reality.” And you don’t want that. You want to keep them in the created reality.

How to Appreciate (and Use) All of Your Ideas, Even If You Delete Them from Where They Originally Appear

When you cut things out of your text, if you’re editing your own writing for your own website, always keep it, because there’s a lot of value in what you cut. It could turn into its own blog post if you’re blogging. It could turn into a case study. It could be turned into a podcast. There are so many different mediums that you can use that idea for, so never think in terms of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or not working. Something that doesn’t work for a certain piece could be perfect for something else.

I keep a document that actually has things that I cut out of my own writing, because I don’t know where it’s going to fit in this creation process. You probably have your own system of how you keep track of things. But I appreciate all of my ideas, even if they don’t work out in the way that I thought that they would, and I hope that you do that as well when you’re creating.

It takes a lot of pressure off of you. We have enough pressure to do things that we want to do and that are meaningful and that we’re passionate about. There’s a lot of pressure in being the Editor-in-Chief of your life and career, so you don’t need more pressure by thinking, “Oh, this idea was bad,” or, “This idea was supposed to work, and then it didn’t.” Appreciate what you create, but when you put on your editor-in chief hat, you just might have to put it in a different compartment than you originally intended.

Going back to audience again, I was thinking about when you start creating content online and you’re writing and you’re editing yourself, and you’re producing work consistently. You’re doing that, right? Well, if you are doing that, you may be interested in checking out the Rainmaker Platform. Editor-in-Chief is brought to you by the Rainmaker Platform. It is the complete website solution for content marketers and online entrepreneurs. You can find out more and take a free 14 day test drive at Rainmaker.FM/Platform.

Why I Don’t Care about My Audience in Order to Care about My Audience

When you’re creating content online and you’re in the thick of it — you’re producing, producing, producing — who are you doing it for? You may not know your audience yet. We talk about audience a lot, but you may not even know who your audience is yet.

How do you find out who your audience is? How do you connect with those people who could be reading your writing, but maybe they’re not, and you want to get in front of their eyeballs? How do you break through to the point where you do have an audience that you can serve? There’s no easy answer to that.

This is counterintuitive, and I like counterintuitive things a lot: I don’t care about the audience to care about the audience. Let me try to break it down.

What You Can Do If You Don’t Know Who Your Readers Are

I produce what I think is going to be the most valuable, the best piece of work that I can, without thinking about who is going to read it. I could have an audience of zero or one, or I could have an audience of 1 million, and it’s not going to change the quality of what I put out.

I am not satisfied until I know it is the best it could be under the circumstances in which I am creating that day. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be good. It could be terrible. I might produce something that’s just not good at all. But I have to feel good about it in order for me to let it go and then move on to the next piece of work.

I have been creating with that mindset of, “As long as I am producing the best work that I can produce, I’m not going to get tripped up over what the audience is going to think of it. I’m not going to get tripped up if no one reads this. I’m not going to get tripped up if a million people read this. I am going to consistently do what I think is right.”

Sometimes when people know that they are going to be in front of a larger audience, if you’re guest blogging for a bigger site, sometimes you get tripped up. You freeze up under that pressure of, “Oh my gosh, so many people are going to be reading this, and I’m nervous about creating my best work.” But if you get in the habit of always doing what you do best, of crafting something that you’re really proud of because you know it provides value, you do that no matter who your audience is.

The counterintuitive thing, coming back to that, is that you really end up serving your audience better. If you’re writing for a site and your piece is going to get a lot of exposure on that site and you’re not worried about creating something that’s going to impress people, you are going to probably impress people more.

If you’re natural and relaxed in your writing and doing what you do best, your voice is really going to shine through. You’re going to do something that’s going to serve that audience, and they are going to spread your content around more when you’re in that frame of mind. You can practice that when you have no audience or very little audience.

How to Write Without Pressure, Regardless of the Size of Your Audience

Pamela Wilson, on her podcast Hit Publish and in a lot of her writing, she talks about — and I love this idea — that you have such an advantage when you have a small audience because you can experiment and you can do different things and see what works. It helps you find your people.

And then slowly … it’s a slow process. If it wasn’t a slow process, it wouldn’t be real, because anything fast seems so scammy. So this is a slow process, but with that small audience you can help attract your real people. It’s more fun creatively. You can create in a lot of different ways.

So take advantage of that if you don’t have a big audience. Then, you build on that, and you get in the habit of creating this consistent, helpful body of work no matter what eyeballs are on you. If there are a lot or there are a few eyeballs. We are talking eyeballs.

I have a quote. It is a quote from Thoreau. I know the last thing you need is another quote from Thoreau. I might as well email you, because we all know that you just want to get another email. I don’t want another email. Who wants another email, and who wants another quote from Thoreau? I was like, “I don’t know if I want to share this.” But it has a strong essence of what I’m talking about and has some interesting things to think about as you are going along your Editor-in-Chief journey and you assume that mindset for the content that you create.

So the quote from Henry David Thoreau is, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving …”

Did I mess that up? Man, you know what? I might have messed that up. When I talk slowly — you obviously see I am comfortable talking fast. I’m just going to do it again. I’m not going to be an editor right now. I’m going to be a creator, so I’m just going to talk a little bit more fast so I don’t trip up my own words. All right, here we go:

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

Thank you for listening to Editor-In-Chief. Now, go become one.