Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Editing Tip: Four Ways to Edit Your Own Work

Editing my own writing is by far the hardest editing I do; it's so much easier to fill in missing words or accept muddy ideas in my writing because I already know what I'm trying to say—I don't have to figure it out from only what's on paper. So to make sure my writing says exactly what's in my head, I usually do one of the following.

  1. Reread, reread, and reread. To effectively edit your own writing, you should take the time to read through it several times. Try looking for different, specific types of errors each read-through. Focus on sentence structure one time, word use the next, and spelling and punctuation the next.
  2. Edit a hard copy. It's incredible what a difference it makes in how effective your editing can be  to see what you wrote on a piece of paper. Print out your document and read it to catch errors you might have missed on the computer.
  3. Take a break and read it again. Sometimes the best way to edit your work is to take a break from it. This allows your brain to rest and gives you the ability to approach your piece in a fresh way. How you write and what you write often depends on your mood and surroundings; changing it up by taking a break can do wonders on identifying errors. 
  4. Have someone else read it. This isn't really editing your own work, but it can be very helpful! Have a friend or someone who is good at the technicalities of writing read through it to see if he or she can pinpoint errors you missed.
I don't always use all these tips to edit my own work, but even using one of them can help you be a better writer. If you're still not satisfied with your piece—or you really want to go that extra mile to "perfection"—you can always get a professional to look at your work. Contact me for a quote!

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