The Writing Process Between an Editor and Author: Jan Winburn and Lisa Pollak “Talk Shop”

Lisa Pollak

Lisa Pollak

Jan Winburn

Jan Winburn

Former Baltimore Sun editor, Jan Winburn, and former Sun writer Lisa Pollak offer aspiring narrative writers a look at the process of publishing a narrative piece for a newspaper. The two shared their dialogue on publishing the article “From Citizen to Activist: The Conversion of Laura Brodie,” a story of a former military-mom turned anti-war activist. During the process, the two faced struggles of finding the right subject, the pressure of the deadline, and the overall struggle of writing the right piece.

The Baltimore Sun article, "From Citizen to Activist."

The Baltimore Sun article, “From Citizen to Activist.”

Winburn and Pollak demonstrate what a good relationship is between an editor and a writer in this process. Winburn pitched the idea of an “Unexpected Activist” to Pollak, who panicked initially to find the right subject, eventually discovering Laura Brodie. The two were on deadline to finish in about a month, in time for a Washington D.C. rally. Pollak would return after each reporting session to discuss with Winburn.

As the deadline drew nearer, Pollak was worried her writing was lacking. She decided to submit her rough draft to her editor, despite the exposure she would feel from sending in her raw work. Winburn advised her to freewrite until she was inspired, rather than telling her to just go with her original piece to meet the deadline.

Though they didn’t meet their deadline, they were satisfied with their final work. The lesson taken away from this dialogue, then, is that the importance was the communication between editor and writer. Pollak knew she could go to Winburn for advice and with rough, unfinished work. Winburn was willing to even just simply listen because she knew her feedback would help produce a good article. Both knew, also, to trust one another in advice and feedback.


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