By Martin Wiles
Let’s face it. Not all of us have the luxury of editing full-time. I’m one.
Five days each week, I teach writing and English to 120 rambunctious, less-than-focused middle schoolers—most of whom would rather be elsewhere. Over the past decade, I cannot calculate how often I’ve been asked, “Why do I need to learn this?”
On Sunday mornings, my wife and I travel forty-five minutes to a small country church that I pastor bi-vocationally. Although I am only “part-time,” I still must do the typical pastor things: prepare sermons, keep in touch with the sick and shut-ins, visit the hospital, teach Sunday school, and keep things running at the church.
And did I mention I have a wife who occasionally needs my attention? Our kids are grown and gone, but we still must make time to keep up with the ones who live twelve hours away and the ones who live only one hour away.
Far be it from me to brag about how much I can do in a day. In the past, that led to a bleeding ulcer. But I do have a Type-A personality and am very organized, but that doesn’t mean my plate can’t get overloaded quickly. In fact, it’s more likely to.
Presently, I manage two websites—plus my personal one—and edit for a few small publishing houses. And did I mention that I write monthly for several places and am a contracted writer for a few more annually?
I am quite out of breath—but I imagine I am not the only one. I have a feeling many who read this have too much on their plates too. As with any diet, we must reduce our amounts and watch what we eat more carefully to ensure we eat healthy foods. And hopefully, we have too much on our plates because we have more food choices (opportunities) that we can say “yes” to.
So, how do I make time to edit and do life? I’ll admit my sleep numbers suffer, but I strive for seven hours. Since I’m not a night owl, I’m in bed by 9:15. This means I rise at 4:15 in the morning. Not all of us can do the morning thing, but whatever works, do it. For our eyes to see what they need to see through the editing process—and for our brains to remember all the ins and outs we must recall—we need rest (adequate sleep plus other periods of down time). The early morning hours provide the time I need to do editing before I head to my day job.
I’ve also learned by trial and error to say no. I wish I could say yes to every editing opportunity—especially those that pay well—but I can’t. None of us can. Trying to can entail skipping out on needed sleep and rest, neglecting our families, avoiding opportunities to serve, and most importantly, skimping on our time with God and other believers.
And we should never lose sight of why we edit. God has gifted and called us to this profession—full- or part-time. Doing free edits or some at a reduced cost for the person who truly can’t afford to pay what we’d typically charge helps us maintain our perspective. Although I’m now paid an honorarium for managing two websites, I wasn’t when I initially took the position.
As you make time to edit, make sure you don’t neglect sleep, don’t overload your plate, and don’t neglect God.
Martin Wiles is an author, pastor, English teacher, and editor who resides in Greenwood, South Carolina. He is the administrator/assistant editor for VineWords: Devotions and More, the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions, and the Senior Editor for Inspire a Fire. He is the founder/editor of the internationally recognized devotion site, Love Lines from God (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). He also serves as a freelance editor with several publishing companies. His most recent book is Don’t Just Live … Really Live (Ambassador International). He has also been published in numerous publications.