Continuing professional development (CPD) is important, and in many fields (such as medicine, law, accountancy) it is even required that practitioners complete a set number of hours of training per year. Editing should be no different, says Eva Machicado.
Even if you land a steady job right out of the gate, there are going to be certain skills you use more than others, and the less used ones are going to become dull. So, after finishing up your education, it is a good idea to have a continuing professional development (CPD) plan in place. CPD might involve keeping your existing skills sharp or learning brand new skills.
The skills you already have must be kept fresh. Our brains will forget things that are no longer useful. It is just your brain clearing room for new, relevant information; in fact, there is a scientific theory for this called the "forgetting curve," which mathematically describes how quickly information will be lost when there is no attempt to retain it. It is estimated that people forget up to 90 percent of the information within one week of learning it. But you never know when you might need those unused skills, so make sure your brain doesn't dump the knowledge.
Though some skills will always remain relevant, things can and do change in the editing world. The things you knew yesterday may not apply today. For example, dictionaries and style guides get updated to more accurately reflect modern word usage. In the seventeenth edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, there were well over two dozen changes made from the previous version. Technology is the other area of very rapid change that affects us editors, and we should be continuously building on our knowledge of the digital tools of our trade.
If you're worried about losing your editorial edge, here are a few suggestions for places to look for CPD opportunities.
Many professional organizations offer continuing education, and you don’t necessarily have to be a member in order to take participate. These take various forms, such as online classes, local meetings, or national conferences. Here is a short list of organizations you can start with.
• The Editorial Freelancers Association
• American Copy Editors Society
• Editors Canada
• Society for Editors and Proofreaders
• Northwest Independent Editors Guild
A lot of editors provide resources and classes that help you expand your skill set. Take a look at the following:
• Liminal Pages
When it comes to expanding your tech-savviness, look no further than YouTube for great, easy-to-follow tutorials.
Revision is also a simple, inexpensive way to brush up on your skills. Re-reading the textbooks you went through in school, such as A Writer’s Reference by Hacker and Sommers or the Chicago Manual of Style, can help to solidify or clarify what you previously learned. Bedford St. Martin’s press even has an online tool to accompany A Writer’s Reference where you can study on line and complete drills on the material covered.
Never stop editing
Even when the paid work stops, keep working. Find internships or volunteer opportunities or practice on unedited material, which can be found in places such as Watt Pad, blogs, or websites. If you're feeling bold, why not reach out to the author with a sample of what you’ve edited? You never know, they may want to hire you!
Whether all your CPD should be shown off on your resume is up to you, but don't do it to look good ... keep learning to FEEL good, because the best reason to continue your professional development is to raise your confidence in dealing with whatever new project comes your way.
Got any other ideas for affordable CPD for new editors? Share them in the comments below.