We asked PEGgers why they edit and what keeps them editing. Responses were received from members who have been with PEG for 30 years to members of just two months. Let’s look at their reasons for editing.

Joy, passion and purpose

Among my many reasons is the joy I get out of being part of the academic project and helping students and academics to make a mark in the world (even if my contribution is very small). And I learn such a lot! (Tanya, more than 15 years)

I edit as my passion is to assist students to be successful. This is one way that I can continue to do so since retiring. Having been a supervisor and examiner of postgrad students, this seemed the next step as editing could be done from anywhere, and as and when I wanted. It is challenging to sort out a document. It gives me purpose for each day. And lastly, it adds to the pension. (Jane, 6 or so years)

Editing makes me think, gives purpose to my days and keeps me engaged with the world. It enriches my life. (Lexi, 13 years)

I am an editor because words and reading are my passion, and it gives me great pleasure to help authors get the best out of their work. I enjoy the praise from a job well done and – of course – getting paid to be able to pay my bills and continue freelancing. I started freelancing after being forced to leave [a popular publication] because I needed full-time work, and they could only offer me half-day work. I am happy to have freelanced for over 20 years, as life is certainly never boring. Freelancing allows me to keep learning (my best!) and tackling new things, job-wise. I love the variety of the different work I get. (Gudrun, 11 years)

Stimulation and learning

I have always enjoyed supervising postgraduate students and have significant experience in copy-editing academic texts. I am also very comfortable with structural and stylistic editing. The decision to continue along these lines was not a difficult one. I find it stimulating and fulfilling. I joined PEG in August 2023 and feel very much at home. I know I shall continue to learn and develop. (Santisa, 2 months)

Editing is about precision, and attention to detail is one of the key components of editing. I have a strong ability to pay close attention to details and thoroughly enjoy the process of refining written material to achieve an excellent outcome. As a result, editing comes naturally to me. The field of editing is constantly evolving, and there is always something new to learn; hence, editing provides a stimulating environment for me to grow in. Editing provides me an opportunity to support and collaborate with authors, writers and content creators to improve their work. It’s a profession that allows me to help others convey their ideas effectively. (Rachael, 5 months)

I edit because I find it intellectually stimulating. I see it as helping others to achieve their dreams and goals. I enjoy sharing my expertise with others as it helps me to stay socially connected with like-minded people. The longer I stay in the profession, the more I see the need for it; and, yes, it supplements my income. (Jax, 10 years)

I edit because I enjoy working with the English language. Also, the wide range of work I have had the opportunity of editing over many decades has been fascinating and enriching. (Reinoud, 29 years)

Helping authors to convey meaning

I edit because I enjoy reading on a wide range of topics and helping clients to convey their meaning clearly and professionally. For me, editing is relaxing and fun rather than work, but being paid to do what I love is great! (Sarah, 5+ years)

I have been editing for years in order to get the meaning of text transmitted as clearly and accurately as possible. I enjoy clarifying someone’s words and seeing them get their message through to their public in a clear, meaningful way. (Coen, 13 years)

I edit because I love to help people, especially with language issues because my interest lies in words – spoken or written. I’m sort of retired as I no longer get up with the sparrows to do my day job, and it keeps my brain active, and I love to be busy and learn new things! Besides keeping up to date with the ever-developing field of language, I am very much a developmental editor, meaning that I like to help people whose dominant language isn’t English. I have a wealth of knowledge, which I am now able to share in a way that helps people to become their better selves, linguistically speaking, especially in the academic field. I am more of a giver than a taker, so there is no reason for me to stop giving as it gives me such pleasure. I also believe that I am contributing something towards postgraduate study, as well as keeping my brain alert and current. (Cathy, 9 years)

I edit and proofread because I thoroughly enjoy helping people to express what they want to say as clearly, effectively and correctly as possible, and after all these (30) years, it’s still the thing I’m happiest and most fulfilled doing on a daily basis. (Danya, 8 years)

Correcting errors

I edit because I love working with words, and I get a thrill out of finding mistakes and fixing them. (Some people think I need therapy for the latter.) I continue to edit because I haven’t come across anything else that is quite as fulfilling. (Celia, 13 years)

Editing is my passion. It’s a safe zone where I can get lost for hours. It’s equal parts creativity and logic, requesting you to find that delicate balance. And the satisfaction of looking at a piece of clean text is unlike any other. (Michelle, 2 months)

I have always enjoyed working with words (I grew up in a family where puns flew thick and fast), and I’m passionate about clear communication. I had a full-time job in theological education when I decided, 20 years ago, that I needed a different way to serve people and an outlet for my interest in language. Editing remained a valued sideline until I took my pension. Now that I am on a pension, the extra income is most welcome. Frankly, I’m addicted to proofreading and correcting what others write. (Mike, 4 years)

I started editing to pay the bills when my husband accepted a temporary overseas professorship and the children and I stayed in Pretoria. I have continued because I enjoy the satisfaction of improving language and expression, where necessary. (Jill, 18 years)

From a founding member

For me, editing started as an enjoyment of reading anything from poetry and historical fiction to serious studies in the field of natural history. Then I came to love sorting out the jigsaw pieces of content, language style and grammar, and the satisfaction of seeing them come together – all part of the creative process of producing a book. (Eleanor-Mary, 30 years)

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of PEG.

About PEG members

PEG members range in skill, experience and duration of membership. They are generally generous and many have a sense of humour. When we ask for their thoughts, they contribute willingly. We have members from long ago and from the recent past. We are thrilled that they all came forward.

About PEG

The Professional Editors’ Guild (PEG) is a non-profit company (NPC) in South Africa. Since moving to online activities in March 2020, PEG has been able to offer members across South Africa, and internationally, access to an extensive online webinar programme. Continuing professional development remains a key offering and the first PEG Accreditation Test was administered in August 2020 to benchmark excellence in the field of editing.