Getting a graded paper back from your prof can be a frustrating experience.
You get an essay back from a teacher with a grade written clearly across the top of the paper, but little is written elsewhere to indicate why you received that grade.
There’s no real explanation of what you’ve done well or what you’ve done badly. And so there’s little indication of how you can improve and be a better writer.
It’s not all the teacher’s fault. Many teachers are incredibly overworked with hundreds of students, kids of their own, and sometimes, second jobs to make ends meet.
Can you imagine working all week and then spending your entire weekend grading hundreds of essays while juggling these other responsibilities?
And for many students, it’s not much easier. Going to school is a full-time job for those who want to get the most out of it. Many students also have a part-time job (or two) on the side to support their own families or, if in college, to pay for school.
Those students who are lucky enough to not have these extra responsibilities may have the time and flexibility to track down a teacher after school or during office hours.
When that’s possible, students can find out what they did wrong on their essays and how they can improve to be a better writer.
But if you don’t have this luxury, how can you become a better writer?
While reading a ton of example essays is one option, the clearest way to become a better writer is by simply writing yourself. But that seems too simple, right? I mean, you can type out essays all day long.
But unless you have some indication of what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong, it’s hard to ensure that the next essay you write will be better than the last.
However, I still argue that the best way to improve your writing is by writing. The problem is that many people don’t understand what “writing” is.
Writing is not just typing words. It’s a process. Writing is thinking and researching. Writing is outlining. Writing is formulating a thesis. Writing is, yes, putting the words on paper. But writing is also revision.
Actually, it’s mostly revision.
The only way your first draft will be your best draft is if it is the only draft you write.
To produce the best essay, you need to write and rewrite it until it’s the best it can be. But here we are back at the beginning–how do you improve the second draft if you don’t know what’s wrong with the first?
One way is with an editor. An editor is like your own personal teacher, identifying your mistakes, both big and small, and teaching you how to fix them in your current essay and avoid them in subsequent ones.
Want to become a better writer? Let’s take a look at six ways an editor can help — plus feedback from students who have worked with Kibin editors.
1. Seeing What You Don’t
First and foremost, an editor provides a fresh set of eyes for your writing.
Moreover, an editor has the eyes of a word nerd who understands the micro elements (punctuation, grammar, word choice, sentence structure) and the macro elements (thesis statements, style, essay structure, formatting) of writing.
If you feel a bit lacking in your knowledge of one or more of these areas, an editor can spot your mistakes, draw your attention to them, and show you the correct way forward.
Even if you feel as though you have a strong understanding of each aspect of writing, you’re still going to miss some things along the way. When you stare at something long enough, you become a bit blind to parts of it. An editor will catch the mistakes you missed.
And it’s not all about catching mistakes! Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with your writing, but an editor can make various suggestions on how to improve it.
Maybe you will ignore some of those suggestions, but if even one of them resonates with you, it can turn your good essay into a great one.
Thank you again for a prompt and thorough review of my document. I truly appreciate your honesty. Sometimes you just need a second set of eyes on something to make sure you are on the right track. — feedback for Bethany R.
2. Identifying Frequent Errors
An editor is not only awesome at seeing errors and ways to improve writing but also incredible at seeing the patterns in your writing.
Some editors at Kibin have edited millions of words (literally!). With all of that practice, they have become adept at noticing recurring issues in your writing.
A good editor will point out these areas and give them extra attention so that you can learn from them and correct your negative habits.
On the micro level, negative patterns can be found within one essay. An editor will notice grammatical errors that recur and teach you how to correct them. On the macro level, editors can identify frequent errors in structure or style over the span of several essays.
At Kibin, you can request to work with the same editor who worked on your previous essays. This offers a great opportunity to build a rapport with your editor and for your editor to teach you how to improve your essay-writing abilities over the long term.
In 2 days, Dan has taught me more than 4 years in HS and a semester in college. He is very patient with my mistakes and takes time to thoroughly explain what I can do to improve!!! BEST editor EVER! — feedback for Dan C.
3. Pointing Out Successes
Editing isn’t all about pointing out the errors that you’ve made in your essay. A great editor will also take note of the things you’re doing well!
Sometimes you don’t even realize how good a word, sentence, paragraph, or essay you’ve written is.
It’s important to have a professional set of eyes who can look at your writing without any bias. That allows an editor to tell you not only where you need to improve but also where you should give yourself a pat on the back.
This is one area where having an editor you don’t know can help.
You never know when a friend or family member will be afraid to tell you when something is wrong. Moreover, sometimes it’s hard to tell when positive feedback is honest and when it’s flattery.
The perfect editor is one who points out both the positives and the negatives in a clear, honest, and constructive way so that you can become a better writer.
Your feedback and encouragement are invaluable. I am learning grammar progress in my writing while working with you. You always ‘get me right.'” — feedback for Crystal W.
4. Teaching in an Approachable Way
Getting a friend, family member, or classmate to review your paper is better than nothing. However, there are some ways in which an editor is better.
Most importantly, editors have experience on their side. This means two things:
- They have an incredible knowledge base from which to draw.
- They have the ability to provide that clear, honest, and constructive feedback you need to improve your writing.
While your buddies might be able to tell you that something is incorrect, they might not be able to tell you exactly why it’s incorrect.
An editor, on the other hand, is a teacher. An editor works to not only find the areas of your essay that need improvement but also is skilled at explaining why it needs improvement and how you can improve it.
I was very pleased when I received the edited paper this morning–it wasn’t so much an editing job as a teaching job. I will use this service a lot! — feedback for Alex L.
5. Providing Suggested Edits, Comments, and Feedback
One way that an editor at Kibin teaches you to be a better writer is through comments, feedback, and suggestive edits.
While some editors may just find and fix your mistakes, a Kibin editor will instead highlight your error and suggest a way to improve it. In this way, you will see what you did wrong and how changing it improves your writing.
Furthermore, if any explanation is needed on why it’s wrong and the various ways in which you can improve it, you can expect to find a detailed yet easy-to-understand comment to accompany the suggested edit.
Moreover, it’s important for an editor to comment not only on the micro-level mistakes made in your essay but also on the overall strengths and shortcomings of your essay.
This is provided through feedback at the end in which the editor points out what you’ve done well in your essay and what you can work on in the next one.
So a Kibin editor works to improve your writing ability on three levels:
- Finding errors and suggesting edits
- Explaining those suggested edits
- Giving macro-level feedback on your essay as a whole
She has done a tremendous job with giving feedback and suggestions, and I look forward to using her again in the future. Jane provides top-notch quality editing, and I am grateful for her valuable and intuitive thoughts/comments. — feedback for Jane J.
6. Modeling Revision
As we talked about in the beginning of this post, one of the most important aspects of the writing process is revision. Unfortunately, you’re not done writing when you write the last word of your essay.
I know it’s a bit like finishing a 10K and then being told you’re running a marathon, but revision is key.
You must read, analyze, and revise your draft in order to get the most out of your essay. And guess what? That’s exactly what an editor does.
Editors read, analyze, and find ways in which you can revise your essay to make it better. And along the way, they can make you a better writer.
Thank you so much for all your help! I am forever learning this art that you have mastered. — feedback for Susan S.
The Takeaway: An Editor Can Teach You How to Be a Better Writer
I like to think of Kibin editors as revision coaches.
Their job isn’t to simply improve your essay. Their job is to show you how to improve your writing. They do that by modeling and explaining the revision process. In this way, an editor shows you exactly how to be a better writer in the future.
More specifically, editors help you to identify what you’re doing right and wrong at the micro and macro levels. Editors teach you how to correct the errors not only in one essay, but also in future essays.
In other words, they show you the proper way to revise your writing so that you can do it yourself in the future.
In these ways, an editor can help you to be a better writer.