Writers want to write.
Anyone who writes a post week after week (struggling to find a topic and reconciling editorial meddling all the way) obviously wants to write. The best advice for a blog editor? Let them write. Encourage them. Toss them prompts if they’re struggling. Answer their emails and chat and text promptly, and be helpful. A writer like that is gold, and you’re lucky to have a writer who wants to generate text for your site.
Some good ways to generate post topics:
- Keep a list somewhere of post ideas as they occur. When someone needs a prompt, you have a pool of them.
- Page through a dictionary. A few random words massaged together can make for a nice prompt. Do that a few times and send it along.
- Revisit old posts. Do any look like they could use a followup? Ask the writer if they’ve got more on the topic.
Writers usually know what they’re trying to do.
Even the best writers can commit the sin of being just awkward. There’s always a temptation for an editor to reword something and move along, but we must resist!
Make a note of the passage, and then keep reading. Most of the time, you’ll find something later on that gives you a clue what the writer was trying to do. If you’re lost, ask the writer a question.
Writers usually know what they want, but sometimes they get stuck. If they’re unsure of what they want to do, you can ask them to explain themselves. Let them talk for a while. Most of the time, you’ll be able to say to them: “What you just said? Write that.”
Give people weeks off.
Writers need time to recharge. If they wrote all day, every day, then they’d have nothing to write about. They need to take vacations, take time for their families, and put out fires.
You can offer to scare up guest posts, and even write the occasional fill-in piece yourself. (More on that later on.)
Writers want to procrastinate.
Give writers time to write. Let them leave things to the last minute where you can. Yes, enforce your deadlines, and keep the site updating on time. But writers usually come up with better work after they put things off for a while.
Write something yourself from time to time.
… you lazy, editing, coordinating slob. Yes, you’re a chill editor. You’re nice to your writers, you let their style shine through. You don’t change their terrible titles (well, not too often).
But if you write something once in a while, and you then have it edited by someone else, something will happen: You’ll remember what it was like to be on the other end of those comments and corrections. You’ll be a better editor, and a more fulfilled one.