For Swedish editor, Emil Rasmussen, helping others to reach their writing potential is as rewarding as working on his own projects. He attributes his success as a freelance editor to careful planning, list-making and going the extra mile to make sure everyone in a project team is on the same page.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a freelance editor?
My background is in creative writing and at one point I realised that I found it just as fulfilling to help my peers with their projects, as I did writing my own stuff. When I came to that realisation, I genuinely started to entertain the thought of being an editor.
In hindsight, I guess I should have figured it out sooner. Going back as far as middle school, maybe even further, I have always been the go to person for feedback – not only because my opinion was trusted, but because I offered to give it.
What gives you the most satisfaction when editing?
One of the reasons I find enjoyment in editing is the objectivity and distance one can keep when working on a text that isn’t your own. It is so easy to get lost in the weeds when writing your own projects, so when you get the opportunity to hone someone else’s work into reaching its full potential, it can feel really liberating.
Although, I would say that editing becomes truly joyful when writer, editor and client come together as a team and clearly work towards the same goal. It may sound obvious, but sometimes – especially when all communication happens via online channels – you need to put in some extra work to make sure everyone is on the same page.
"It may sound obvious, but sometimes – especially when all communication happens via online channels – you need to put in some extra work to make sure everyone is on the same page."
How do you stay focused when working on multiple projects at one time?
The juggling of projects is one of my biggest struggles. I have little faith in the process of multitasking, so for me it is all about separating each task from the next, so I focus on them one at a time. I do this through careful planning, scheduling and list-making. I make lists for everything. They keep me from forgetting anything and they make it easy to single out what is most urgent. When I know which project is getting my attention next, I schedule my day around it as thoroughly as possible.
The realisation that I need to carefully plan my days, and to create attainable tasks for myself, has been truly invaluable – not only as an editor, but in life. I find it so much easier to hold myself accountable and to see things through when I have my goals written down in front of me.
Are there benefits or challenges when working as a freelancer in Sweden?
I think many of the challenges are the same wherever you are located. Becoming a freelancer generally means giving up a lot of security that a regular employer can offer. Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot of companies popping up that offer some of that security to freelancers. These companies – existing solely to help out freelancers with the business side of their careers – is certainly a godsend for some. If you lack confidence or time, they are definitely worth considering. However, for others I believe they function as the easy way out. Instead of acting professional, doing the research and learning how to run your own business, a lot of people (and I myself have been tempted many times) turn to these companies, and ultimately have to give up large chunks of their paychecks in the process.
How do you think freelance content creation will change over the next five years?
I believe the market for freelance content creation will continue to grow in the coming years. The need for businesses to be an active presence online, with content that guides their targeted audience to their sites, will only become greater. A growing market combined with a constant need for fresh content will hopefully open doors to even more freelancing opportunities.
It could be wishful thinking, but with companies like Quill leading the way, the future for freelance content creators looks bright.
What do you like to get up to in your spare time to maintain a good work/life balance?
When I’m not editing, I’m writing. I have several projects in the pipeline at the moment, so there is always something to be done.
On the occasions when I manage to step away from the keyboard, I try to work out as much as possible. Life as an editor and writer isn’t always that kind to the body. Apart from that I try to spend time with my loved ones, watch movies or read books.
To separate my professional life from my spare time, I try to work away from home as much as possible. It’s easier to enjoy your leisure time when your home isn’t functioning as both office and sanctuary.
Can you share one thing that’s on your bucket list?
I don't think bucket lists have ever been in line with my way of thinking. Contrary to my process of making lists when working, I try to have a more free flowing approach to my life goals. To me, happiness won’t come from traveling to every corner of the world (although I do love to travel) or jumping out of a plane, but rather from finding a way of life where even the most mundane day would feel purposeful.
I guess there are some constants in my approach to finding a purposeful existence, and one of those is making a living out of something that feels worthwhile. If I can earn my bread through writing and editing, I’ve come a long way in my pursuit of happiness.
If you could go back to when you started as an editor, what advice would you give yourself?
An editor’s best and worst friend is the idea of perfection. Trying to make a text perfect will make it better, but thinking that perfection is possible will stop it from ever being finished. So, I would say that the best advice I could have given myself is to learn when to let go.
Do your absolute best and then let it go – strive for perfection, but accept that it’s unattainable.