Compulsive Editing Syndrome

I’ve noticed something happening slowly and subtly, a new habit creeping into my day-to-day life. Last Wednesday was when I noted it consciously for the first time.

This time of year is a dreaded time at work.  It is when we have to do the thing that causes the most horror and angst among my coworkers.  We are filling out the dreaded self-evaluation forms for our annual review.

I detest these forms.  I never know how to fill them out properly.  Due to my self-esteem issues, I have a hard time mentioning anything that was considered above and beyond the normal workload without me thinking that I am bragging. My process is to pull out last year’s review, copy it, make appropriate changes and updates, and then email it off without cringing too much.

Last Wednesday I opened up the previous year’s file and began reviewing it.  I shook my head and said to myself, “Look at all the use of the passive voice.”  I spent an hour filling out the form, updating it here and there with projects I had completed and new ones I had taken on, but mostly changing passive verbs to active and weeding out awkward phrases.  After spellchecking and one last look over for further alterations, I sent it off to my boss.

That was when I realized that I had edited the review much like I am editing my book. It’s not the first time I’ve done that.  Emails, even quick ones to friends, are starting to get this treatment.  I haven’t gone as far as editing other people’s work, unless they have asked me to.  I’m being more careful about word choice on things I am crafting for my non-novel related projects. (In fact I did it three edits in the prior sentence alone.)

Will rewriting my annual review lead to a better review?  I don’t know.  I won’t be able to make an apples-to-apples comparison because of several changes that have taken place in the previous year.  But it will be interesting to see what the feedback will be.