Editing, What Role Does it Play in Your Life?
We all do it, whether consciously or subconsciously. In our thoughts, our speech, our writing and our actions.
The question becomes why? Why do we do it? Well, the reasons are many.
And the Brain Keeps Spinning
Sometimes, even to ourselves, when deep in our thoughts, we tend to edit and re-edit our thought process. It becomes no, don't think of it that way, then, ok, how about this way? What will he think? What will she think? And so, the thoughts begin to spin around and around in our brain till it comes out sounding like something we can live with. Satisfied, we continue on with our thoughts. However, our thought process is who we are and controls how we behave. Shouldn't our thoughts be free of self-doubt and criticism? By editing, are we disguising the person we really are? In my opinion, to be totally free in our speech and actions can lead to chaos and turmoil. Certainly, there are proper ways to speak and act if our society was such that it mattered not what anyone said or did, I hate to think what the world would be like if that were the case. Therefore, to my way of thinking, editing is a necessary part of life.
In our writing, it is so the audience can read flawlessly through the book/article/letter from beginning to end and come away with a complete understanding of what was written. A plus is to make the reader feel as though they were right there.
However, in our speech and actions, it becomes complicated. It is all based on the audience and their reaction to what we say or do. The personality of the audience plays a big role. Are they the sensitive type? Are they prone to dissolving into tears? Do they pick apart every word stated? Do they take things personally? Do they go on the defensive? Do they challenge everything you say? Do they become confrontational? I'm sure there are as many reasons to consider as there are types of audiences.
Using my own life as an example, I found that I was guilty of editing my thoughts before I spoke. This was my way, so I thought, to be gentle about getting my thoughts out. Yet, when I was raising my children and needed to discipline them, I was a yeller. In retrospect, it did nothing, solved nothing. It was not until my children were grown, upon looking back, that I realized there was a better way. I just didn't know it. Even now, in their adulthood, I do not edit my thoughts. I get my point across by talking to them in a way that is not accusatory or demeaning. We still may disagree, but at least what I really felt and thought at the time comes across.
I am fortunate to be in a long term relationship with someone where through time, I am free to speak whatever is on my mind. There is no need to edit, sugar-coat it, or even say it in anger. I simply can say whatever it is without it being scrutinized for a hidden agenda. This is so liberating. Yet, the mind works in mysterious ways. When a train of thought comes to mind, I still find myself choosing my words carefully. This is not to say I am doing it out of fear of the reaction, nor am I choosing not to say parts of the thought, but simply to state it in a way that is most comfortable for me.
In our varied relationships, there are times when something needs to be said, or asked. I found that, in a lot of cases, I would preface what I wanted to say by saying, I need to ask you something, or, I need to tell you something. I am stating this because I feel the need to bring something to your attention. Whatever it is, usually what follows is an exchange of thoughts, which often leads to a very enlightening conversation. And often, either the asker or askee is the one who walks away knowing more than they did before. So, in most cases it is a win-win situation.
There are times, though, when no rational thought is possible, such as in the cases of anger. Words come spewing out without a thought or care as to the effect it will have on the person or persons on the receiving end. All we know is that we get that immediate knee-jerk reaction and our intent instantly becomes to verbally abuse and hurt the person or persons we perceived to be attacking us. We really do intend the vulgarity and the barbs that come from knowing just who the audience is, in a vain attempt to prove our self-perceived superiority and self-righteousness. These instances are always ugly because of your knowledge of the person and/or situation. You can attack appearance, choices in life, spouses, children, whatever it is you know will hurt that person. Once the storm passes, it is only then that we stop to think. My God, did I need to react that way? Did I need to say those awful things? Did I really say them?The really sad part is, once words come out, they cannot be taken back. There is no re-wind on speech.
On the assumption that most people know how to behave around other people, editing action is rather simple. For example, unless it's an emergency, a rational person would not think to interrupt someone talking on a phone, or grab the last seat available on a bus when clearly there is an elderly person standing there loaded down with packages as well. Mostly, common courtesy dictates action. Then there are the times when immediate action is called for, such as saving someone from harm, getting that report to your boss before the deadline, and other life situations.
Here is my take on editing. Borrowing an expression:
Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don't say it mean.
Act in a way that others will admire.
Write in a way that expresses you and your thoughts, and be mindful of your audience.