How to Edit Meaningless Text

You’re halfway through an editing project when you realize that one section of the text, if not the whole damn thing, is completely meaningless. Maybe it’s a calorie chart (which isn’t meaningless, just hard to read), or maybe it’s “this business strives to provide customer-centered solutions every single time.” What do those words even mean? How do you get a hold on slippery text that defies even your razor sharp wit?

1. Read extra slowly. You need more time for the words to filter through your numbed brain. When your subconscious is screaming “Dear God, why??” it is hard to notice errors.

2. Take frequent breaks. Read a little George Orwell to clear your head.

3. Have a strategy. Are you allowed to make the text a little more meaningful? Come up with crafty author queries to encourage the author to figure out what the fuck she’s writing about. Active steps toward making the text more meaningful will help slow the soul rot.

4. Stay away from the internet, for it will only corrupt your mind and make you find things that are ten thousand times more interesting than your editing work and you will never finish. This means you will never get paid.

5. Read it out loud. Assume a weird accent if that helps.

6. Keep your eye on the prize. Or, in the words of my father, get in there and fight. That’s exactly what I’m going to go do now.


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