A standdown, in military terms, traditionally meant a work stoppage — an agreement to stop fighting over Christmas, say. Various dictionaries describe “a relaxation” in action.
It sounds like an oxymoron when it comes to accuracy.
After all, you never want to let down your guard when it comes to that, right?
The idea is to pause, to relax, when it comes to everything else so that you can concentrate on learning the ways we can all become more accurate in everything we publish.
That’s why in every class, every beat meeting, every critique and every morning budget meeting this week, we’ll spend at least a portion of the time devoted to the topic.
It’s not enough to say: Do better. Be more accurate. Pay attention.
This isn’t about taking anyone to the woodshed.
We want to concentrate on routines and techniques that make us better.
At the editors’ coffee last week, lots of little things came up just in talking about whether to call this standdown.
For instance: If you click on ”print no notes” in Django, you can pick up on things like extra spaces or words without them. Some editors (me) didn’t know that.
(In general, reading in a different font, or different point size, is always a good tip. It forces your eyes to see the same thing you’ve been staring at for hours in a different way.)
So we’re looking at 10 ways, or a hundred, to get better.
In the military, a standdown is as much about trading stories among colleagues as it is about any edicts from above. This worked for me; that other thing I tried was a big mistake.
Don’t just look to your editor-professors this week. Lean across your desk to the person across from it. Take a friend to coffee. Take someone you don’t know, too.
In fact, the only edict is that we talk with each other.