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Editing, What Role Does it Play in Your Life?

Updated on July 3, 2010

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.


photo by arte ram @
photo by arte ram @

Different Scenarios

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.

In Summation

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.

Careful what you think


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    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Winsome,

      I love the analogy you used, a recycle bin in our mental computer :)

      I never thought of it like that, but it definitely makes sense. You are so right about the accumulation. I am guilty of being in arguments that had a beginning, but no middle or end. It seems all the hurts are left smoldering in the brain and come spilling out. When an argument starts, it is about one specific thing, but due to the 'not emptying the recycle bin', all the hurts from the past get thrown in with the current situation. The result? No resolution, no meeting of minds. Just more ammunition to be stored away till the next time.

      I wish it was as simple as a click of the mouse to empty the mind of negativity, however it's not. This is where you state that we should edit the irritations and dump them. Since the mind is such a powerful thing, editing is probably the best one can do.

      Yes, Sally and I have been friends since kindergarten. She is the sister I never had. Our birthdays are a day apart, which I think had something to do with our becoming friends :) I am not sure at what age, but we were very young when we decided to become blood sisters. I'm glad we did. It matters not that we don't share the same blood. We share our hearts. My life was blessed when we met.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I love your way of looking at things, and your insights. I'm even more grateful that you found me and enjoy my work. For that, I thank you :)

    • Winsome profile image


      8 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hey Trish, I see a LOT of myself in your well written, thoughtful and expertly edited article. I try to remember the biblical advice: Quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. (with occasional success, he says sheepishly)

      As I read your words I had this thought--one of the reasons the wrong things slip out during anger is that we have not "emptied the recycle bin" in our mental computer. I often have thoughts about someone's words or actions that, by themselves are not terrible but when they start to accumulate they are a potential weapon waiting to be grabbed and expressed when you would NEVER even mention them otherwise. You really don't mind that much until anger is in the picture--so what I am rambling on about is maybe we should edit a lot sooner the little irritations that float around in our ram or even hard drives of the mind and forgive and dump them.

      I'm so glad you and Sally get to have a real world relationship, I'm grateful to know you both. All my best.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Dobson,

      Well, my feeling is, is if they are a true-blue friend, they may already know how you think, and what you think about them. Should you happen to come out with an unadulterated comment, although it might take them aback, I don't think they would be surprised about the content of what you said, but, perhaps the delivery. Even so, it's an opportunity for discussion, without editing.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, glad you enjoyed this hub.

    • Dobson profile image


      8 years ago from Virginia

      I wonder how our friends would feel about us if we said the first unedited thoughts we had about them. Nice hub to illuminate a true fact in everyone's lives.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi MightyMom!

      Yes, it seems 99% of the time we have to be mindful of our audience, whether in person or through writing. I do think with writing there is a bit more leeway to say what we think, but I could be wrong.

      One thought that comes to mind is the phony person. The person who smiles at you and says, oh I love your hair and is secretly saying yeah, nice hair but what an ugly dress. That said, does that make those of us who use restraint phony? and/or a liar? Hard to say.

      It's great to see you too! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Love your avatar :)

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 

      9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi Trish! So good to see (and read) you again! This is a really interesting topic. What I took away from it mostly is how very little of the time are we really free to speak unedited/unfiltered. I'm glad your relationship allows you to do that. Mine does too (Thank GOD). But other than that, we've gotta put as much thought and self-restraint into our speaking as we do into our writing!

      Great hub. Thumbs up. MM

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi cindy,

      Yes, that's how we become decent humans, building on all that was positive in thought and action and tossing out the negatives.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 

      9 years ago from Cape Town

      Good ideas here Trish, I would say that being reflective is just as important as editing. Looking back and seeing what you said that was good and what you can improve on in the future is the way to go.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      hi muley,

      Yes, I've heard that said as well. However, I think a lot of brains short circuit more often than not. Actually, I believe it's quite an exceptional person who can maintain that kind of control consistently. The good news is, most of us do get better at it as we mature.

      It's so good to see you. Glad you liked this, and thanks for commenting :)

    • muley84 profile image

      Michael A Muehleisen 

      9 years ago from Miami,FL

      A very thought provoking hub Trish. I think your closing statement really rounds out your intent. As my dad would tell me "make sure you engage your brain before you activate your mouth."

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago


      I think that's the hardest one of all, to remain calm in the face of a verbal attack. It's easy to blow up at someone you know, because as you know them, they know you and what buttons to push to get you to a boiling point. If we could count to ten, or take several deep breaths and walk away, or just remain silent, that sometimes leaves an even more powerful message. The antagonist is left standing there acting the fool. They say silence is golden, so I'm thinking in a moment like that, it certainly must be.

      Now, if only it worked every time! :)

      Thanks for commenting.

    • Jaspal profile image


      9 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Another great one Trish! There is an old advice - hard to follow though: Speak not when angry.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Benji, I couldn't agree with you more. I am blessed in that way too. But, isn't it a bit sad that there are only maybe one or two people you can be that way with? I guess we just need to be grateful that there are friends we don't have to walk on eggshells with. :)

      Thanks for commenting, it's always nice to see you.

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 

      9 years ago from San Diego, California

      This is so true. I often edit my words and actions based upon the audience in front of me. Being around different kinds of people definitely keeps a person on their toes. I also have someone whom I don't have to worry about editing my thoughts and words in front of. It's a huge blessing to be able to be vulnerable with at least one other person.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thanks so much! I too find myself at a loss sometimes, and many times people have already said what I was thinking. But, I go ahead and post anyway. It is always nice to hear affirmations :)

      Thanks for reading!

    • ReMarkaBlogs profile image


      9 years ago

      Well, I was going to attempt to make a thoughtful comment, but after reading SallysTrove above, anything I say will sound like a First grader in comparison to her articulate expressions.

      Good Hub, Trish (I'll leave it at that) :)

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Oh ST, been there, done that! You're absolutely right. Like I said, once spoken, it cannot be retrieved. I believe what happens is we get caught up in the moment, and there are no rational thoughts. That's the hard part. Keeping those words in our head is often difficult, and yes, sometimes impossible, even knowing in some recess of our mind at that critical moment that we should just shut up.

      I agree with you about the stodgy etiquette. It seems to be a lost art.

      Can't wait to talk to you! Thanks dear friend.

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      9 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      How many times do I wish I had bitten my tongue? That momentary biting pain is nothing compared to the long-lived emotional pain that comes with realizing I said something really, really stupid (hurtful, ignorant, selfish, thoughtless, insensitive, grossly disrespectful, impetuous...use whatever word fits).

      My dearest friend, you have put a new suit of clothing on what some think is stodgy old etiquette or good manners. Actually, my head is spinning with your words, and lucky me, I will get to share them with you soon in a voice conversation.

      FP's sage advice sits well with me.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Whatever tickles your funnybone :)

    • Itswritten profile image


      9 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      Hilarius !!

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi Feline,

      No, you did not speak out of turn, silly woman :)

      Sometimes, speaking less is very difficult for some people, yet for others, it is not. I've known some constant talkers and it sure can be irritating LOL.

      Personally, I tend to be on the quiet side. One way to get me fired up though is to push me against the wall, or into a corner,,,then watch out! :)

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi Shalini,

      Yes, wouldn't it be nice? Unfortunately, I think it is nothing more than wishful thinking. However, it doesn't hurt to keep on trying :)

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi James,

      I can see how that would not be a compliment! Sad to say, in my life I've known one or two people who did just that, and no, they were not well liked :)

      Yet, a small part of me sometimes wishes I could be like that once in a while. However, it's just not in my nature.

      Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you enjoyed this hub.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 

      9 years ago

      It can be really difficult to weigh and measure every word before it's spoken. Speak less is my maxim, it can save you much heartache.

      Did I speak out of turn there, Trish? :)

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Christoph!! It is so good to see you!

      Yes, there are reasons to edit. I'm not sure ifI would be well received if I were to say whatever popped into my head :)

      You've made my day! Now I know you're not lost somewhere out there in the nether regions :)

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      9 years ago from India

      'Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don't say it mean.' What a wonderful way to live life. If only more editing were done, what a wonderful world this would be! Thanks for a wonderful read, Trish!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      I once heard someone say about someone else, "He has never had an unexpressed thought." It was not meant as a compliment. :) I like your article and I enjoyed reading it tonight.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 

      9 years ago from St. Louis

      Hi Trish! I couldn't agree more. Editing is necessary for the reason...well, you've covered them all perfectly. The less editing you do, the more you will say things that you regret and you can't "unsay" them. Well done!


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