As editors, we can never stop learning. Whether it’s to resolve specific questions, maintain a credential or generally stay on top of our field, we have to keep up with a dizzying array of books, articles, blogs, newsletters, interviews, Twitter chats, Facebook posts, webinars — and the list goes on. Ignore that information and we risk being out of date. (Still “correcting” the verb impact, anyone?)
But how do we keep up? And when?
I tend to let things pile up, then binge-learn. Once, after a long stretch of work a few years ago, I’d accumulated such a stack of material that drastic action was in order. I booked off three days, reserved a cheap suite in Whistler, B.C. (it was shoulder season), set the out-of-office message on my email and drove up the highway, to one of the world’s most scenic spots, to read. Other workers go on professional development retreats, I reasoned. Why not editors?
The retreat was in some ways a great experience. I zoomed through new editions of grammar, style and writing books. I read a bunch of articles. I made notes on updating courses that I teach. I took the time to go down those rabbit-holes of online research that I normally resist when at my desk, fearing they’ll eat into my “real” workday.
But the PD retreat was a one-time event. Making it a regular gig seemed impractical. For one thing, it cost money. Sure, I could write off the expense (I’m a freelancer), but I still had to part with the cash. For another, the getaway ate into my time. Blocking off three days is tough if not impossible when you work to deadlines and your projects don’t always unfold as expected. And three days away from email — well, you can guess what that was like. It took me the better part of a day just to catch up.
Binge-learning is still my main approach to PD, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I seldom feel caught up. My to-read list only grows, to the point where the whole endeavour can feel overwhelming.
How do you do it? Have you found a way to continue your education without falling behind on deadlines or sacrificing all your leisure time? Please share your tips.
Previous post from Frances Peck: Perilous Punctuation: The Email Salutation.
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