05 May 2012

Editing, writing, tutoring, and consulting: reflection on connections

One might look at the tabs at the top of this page and think, "What an odd assortment of services. What do editing and writing have to do with tutoring and consulting? It would make more sense to divide them up. Was she too lazy to create separate sites?"

When I created this site I knew I wanted it to serve two purposes: first, to market my services to a wide audience; second, to pull together the fragments of my life and help me see the connections between them.

For this latter reason it was important to have one site that spoke to all the things I do well. But I worried that the second purpose might undermine the first. Would people looking for a writer balk at seeing me market myself as an editor, tutor and consultant? Would people looking for an assessment consultant cringe to see I'm also looking for writing and editing gigs? Could I really be good at any of these things if I claim to be good at all of them?

As I pondered these questions today, searching for connections, I had an epiphany. I finally began to see why I am passionate about and good at all of these things:
  1. They are all about learning, relationships, and changing the world.
  2. They all draw on the same core set of skills: active listening; helping people clarify their values, purpose and goals; seeing connections between the big picture and the details; creative problem-solving; synthesizing and summarizing complex ideas; and clear communication. 
The same skills that make me a good assessment consultant also make me a good editor, writer and teacher. In addition, exercising my skills within one of these contexts makes me better at the others. Writing makes me a better editor and teacher of writing because I am in touch with my process and am learning more about craft and publishing. Editing makes me a better teacher and writer because I'm continuing to learn about the choices that are open to us in writing and which choices are most effective. Teaching makes me a better consultant and editor because I'm learning more about how people think and learn. Consulting makes...well, you get the idea.

Of course there are other skills and knowledge, outside of the ones mentioned above, that are more specific to some of the contexts than others. In teaching and consulting, for example, I draw far more from my expertise in the theories and practices of teaching and learning than I do when I'm editing or writing. And in consulting, my knowledge of English grammar, spelling, syntax and punctuation isn't as relevant as when I am writing, editing or teaching writing.

Nevertheless, the realization that editing, writing, tutoring and consulting are all connected is somehow a huge relief. Perhaps I had been worried that I am lazy, or that the fragments of my life could not form a coherent whole. I am glad to find that, at least in this instance, those fears were unfounded.

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