Editing, speaking generally, is part of any creative endeavor. I have been involved in a variety of creative pursuits in my life (we all have, but that’s another subject) and have found editing to be the commonality between them all.
The first evidence that I would end up in a visual field was drawing. I started with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and haven’t looked back since. A friend once remarked that watching me draw was different than he expected because it was so messy. I would scribble the same form repeatedly layering pencil strokes as if I was looking for the line I liked, commiting only once I’d find it. My drawing process has shifted to quicker varied sketches since that observation but it still relies heavily on repetitive iteration. It’s as if I cannot make a decision until I am convinced it is well informed. I am editing the material I give myself.
During high school and for a while afterwards I regularly played music with some friends. This is the first time that I experienced collaborative editing. It was awesome! We would jam and work through licks and phrases repeatedly, altering them towards a vaguely anticipated goal. We narrowed a broad idea gradually into a defined form. I have since let my musical abilities stagnate and decline. I think one reason for this, besides lack of time, is that I never enjoyed self-editing musically as much as group editing. Most musicians will tell you that collaboration is where the joy is.
I have found that design is all about editing. There are two defining elements that are necessary to successful design; a clear goal and well-defined limitations. These provide the editorial framework for all the varied ideas and concepts that will emerge in the initial phases of a project. By comparing an idea for a design against the project goals and limitations it is possible to narrow the unwieldy array of possibilities into a focused and effective opinion.
Editing is the common activity of every creative pursuit I know. There are some industries where editors are a recognized and distinct part of a collaborative team; film editors take hours of footage and build a cohesive story, book editors helps authors form cogent narratives. Many of us work in industries where you can’t find “Editor” on any business card. It’s not that editors don’t exist, we are just left to do that work ourselves. We are all editors and it is my belief that with that realization we can formalize our processes and nail down the fleeting muse, even if only occasionally.