To edit the writing of someone uninterested in writing is the biggest frog I have to swallow as a content specialist.
Let's call her Baby.
We all squander words, especially in our shitty first drafts. I'm not a particularly good writer so I need both an editor and many edits for something decent to emerge out of the cesspit. Baby squanders with much abandon even after several rewrites. Some of her sentences are downright incoherent.
Part of me thinks she has little desire to get any useful information across; that she fell asleep on her keyboard and submitted whatever her forehead typed out. I'm also pissed she's never apologized for all the extra work I've had to do just to raise her D to a C-.
(Okay, the apology bit is just me projecting what I would do onto somebody else. This whole blog post is a result of me wanting to be angry but having no valid reason to be. Nothing was committed out of spite.)
Generous Me thinks the piece lacks intention because Baby doesn't fully understand what she's writing about. It's simply not her area of expertise. If you haven't guessed, Baby is very young too.
When I was starting out, barely anything I wrote matched what my mentor had in mind. I squandered so many words—most of it intended to make myself sound smarter than I was. You know, to overcompensate for my massive inferiority complex. I believe it's a phenomenon called adəˈlesəns.
For me, the most productive (and humane) way to critique is to: 1. Point out areas for improvement by asking, “How can this be better?” 2. Explain why they have to be improved, with the aim of clear, intentional writing in mind 3. Provide space for the other party to defend their work or come up with their own solutions
I pontificate about this now, but there was a time when I just mouth off blunders based on lofty ideals that I'm not sure I meet myself. I whip out a stick the same length as the gap between the ideal and the actual and then I beat somebody with it. I̶'̶m̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶b̶e̶a̶t̶e̶n̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶a̶ ̶p̶u̶l̶p̶ ̶m̶o̶s̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶t̶i̶m̶e̶.̶
Much, much growing up left to do.