Editing is not just for writers

I just became aware of a fabulous company called The Home Edit. Two ladies, Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, run this business where they help people get organized and create lovely, functional spaces. They have a great Instagram presence (#TheHomeEdit) and a new show on Netflix with the same name. What they do is really bring beauty into people’s closets, garages, offices, spare bedrooms and more, through editing, organization, lots of fabulous acrylic bins, and color coordination. They really understand how to display things and put things into “zones” as they call it. The first step in their process is to edit. So let’s talk about what that really involves.

Click on this photo to go to The Home Edit’s website

To edit someone’s writing means you read through a piece of written work and look for mistakes in grammar, spelling, sentence structure and so on. It also entails looking over how well the work is organized in its thought process and how well the writer put into words what he or she was trying to get across. This is similar to editing a closet. You look over the entire closet and examine how well things are organized and how the space will best be utilized by the owner of said closet. If you’ve watch any HGTV you’ve heard this term being used. To edit means you take away things and rearrange things until you’ve got a look and a functionality that wins.

HOW do you edit? I’ve created a little checklist for ya:

  1. Choose an area you want to organize (ie: a bookshelf)
  2. Look at every single item in the area and ask yourself the following questions about each item:
    1. Would I miss this item if it were gone forever?
    2. Does this item bring any value, usefulness or joy to my life or to the lives of those who have access to it?
  3. Anything you answer “no” to needs to be donated, given away, sold, burned, whatever you decide.
  4. The items that remain need to be grouped somehow. Take a look at what you have and come up with categories. The easiest way to do this is to remove everything from the area and put them in piles of categories so you can see how many items you have in each category. If you have one HUGE category, you may need sub-categories for it.

Let’s look at my bookshelf for example. In general, the books are organized by type (see photo). Then scattered throughout I have little nick knacks, mostly around the nautical theme. My husband was a long-line fisherman in Alaska for 16 years so many of these glass balls he picked up on a beach in Alaska.

As you can see I have a LOT of things on this bookshelf. It could use some editing, but 6 months ago, when we moved in to this house, I did edit it to look like how it does now. But as time goes on, things may need more editing, especially if we add to what was there before. Let’s go through my trouble spots on my bookshelf together, and I’ll say what I would do to edit it, and then I’ll show you the before and after!

This cubby was supposed to be the “large book” cubby but if you can see all the way to the right there are three not-so-large books encroaching on this shelf. It means that somewhere else I need to make room for these three books.

These bins down on the bottom shelf house all our kids books, paperback books, and misc books. Honestly, I don’t even know what is in here and I put them there not 6 months ago! So it’s time to go through them because, as you can see, the bins are full to the top and the middle one is about to overflow!

This space is where the TV would go if this were being used as our entertainment center. I have edited this particular cubby about three times and still am not happy with it. I feel like it should have more character than it does. Also, that little short speaker isn’t even hooked up to the stereo! So why is it there!?? Ugh.

I started by looking at each book and asking myself the questions I listed above:

-Would I miss this book if it were gone forever? Does this book bring value, usefulness or joy to anyone in my home, including me? The books I answered no to, were set aside, about 20 in all.

Next, I thought about that middle section. What was it’s purpose? Currently it housed two working speakers and one non-working speaker and that was about it. The two shelves on either side of the large middle space are the perfect size for the two larger speakers, so I moved those there. Then, I remembered I had a floating shelf in my shed so I went out and grabbed that and installed it. I played around with putting the large books under the shelf but there weren’t enough of them to fill the space. Then I stuck the three bins there. They fit there PERFECTLY! I realized that by moving all the books to the top and bottom shelves only, it would create a non-book zone all the way across the middle. (even though there are books in the bins, visually bins are non-books). It feels more cohesive now, although I am still not IN LOVE with the set up. Bookshelves are tough, man. So. Much. Clutter. But it’s a work in progress…

Here is a side by side of before editing and after editing:

The difference between the two is subtle. Editing can either be subtle or dramatic. Here is a dramatic example of editing:

Comment to this blog and let me know if you liked my pre-edited bookshelf better or my edited bookshelf. Thanks for reading! I hope it inspired you to be an editor!

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