Regardless of the type of writing you’re into, being able to edit can be helpful in a myriad of ways. Not only does the work look more polished, but people are more likely to trust what you have to say. So, what are some methods to edit your own work?
Today, I’ll take a look at some proofreading and editing methods you can use right now.
However, I should point out one very important thing you need to consider. It’s awfully difficult to edit your own writing in any regard. So, don’t be surprised if you see mistakes later on when you re-read something you wrote six months ago.
And be aware that some people will point out the flaws in the comment section. It’s an easy way to invite trolls to your blog.
7 Things to Try to Edit Your Writing
Now, I cannot promise that any of these methods will prevent you from making mistakes. Even if you employ several at the same time, it’s bound to happen.
This is one of the biggest reasons why a lot of experienced writers and authors have editors. However, editors usually cost quite a bit.
Let’s dive into some methods you can use right now for writing and editing.
1. Trim Some of the Fat
This is actually a bit before the editing process. Trimming the fat, or filler words, can make the process go by a lot easier. Depending on what you’re writing, sometimes the simplest sentence has the greatest impact.
If you’re not sure how certain punctuation fits within a sentence, rewrite the line to make it easier on yourself. This works best when blogging or dealing with content mills.
Until you get a handle on advanced sentence structures, always fall back on nice and easy.
On the other side of the coin, you want to be as descriptive as you can when writing a novel or short story. The rule of thumb is to “show, not tell,” which means providing information to convey specific sensations, such as smell, taste, and touch.
So, trimming the fat greatly depends on what kind of content you’re writing.
2. Read it Aloud
Perhaps one of the best ways for me to edit my writing is by reading it out loud. Part of this is because of how your brain has to process what you read and turn it into speech.
You can find all kinds of grammatical and spelling errors as well as sentences that don’t really make all that much sense.
Personally, I try to read every piece as though I’m making a YouTube video about it. I go so far as to even imagine the emotional state of every sentence for the camera.
You don’t need to go to that extent. But reading your text out loud can be of great help when proofreading or editing your work.
3. Come Back to It Days Later
As I mentioned earlier, coming back to what you wrote after a long break can be of great benefit. The content is no longer fresh in your mind, so it kind of gives you a bit of an outside perspective.
Though I know some of you are probably on time constraints, so coming back to it days later may not be an efficient use of your time.
However, sometimes even an hour or two can make the difference.
I often go back to older blog posts to edit my writing. This is because I know that I’m not perfect; no writer is.
4. Use an Online Writing Editor
In today’s technologically-driven world, using an online writing editor can shave some time off the process. Some of the more popular for this are systems like ProWritingAid.com and Grammarly.
In fact, I am using the Grammarly Chrome extension as I type this.
Online editors are nice because they don’t just simply make corrections. Some will even highlight why changes are necessary, which also makes them a learning tool.
Just remember that no automated system is 100% accurate. Always double-check what they flag is incorrect.
5. Have a Friend Give it a Once-Over
I know that this point isn’t exactly editing the work yourself. But, I figured I would add it to the list because it’s easy and can be of great help.
Because you are so close to the piece of which you’re writing, you can gloss over specific issues. However, a friend can go through and highlight elements they think are incorrect.
The downside to this, though, is your friend could be more illiterate than yourself. I’m not trying to dig at anyone, but you’ve got to face facts.
Find a friend who does a lot of reading, unless you have one who is already an editor. Either way, another set of eyes on your work can be very helpful.
6. Proofread More than Once
Usually, I try to edit my writing as I go. For instance, I’ll write a section of a blog post, re-read for accuracy, and then move on. Then, I’ll proofread it again at the end.
Sometimes, I’ll catch a few mistakes and make fixes. As I said above, though, it’s easy to miss things your brain just processed, which is why I come back to it later.
How many times should you proofread? That really depends on the piece and purpose. But keep in mind that you don’t want to spend too much time editing.
It can slow you down quite a bit if you’re writing for production, such as using content mills.
7. Don’t Rely Too Much on Automatic Systems
This kind of goes along with using online writing editors. Don’t rely too much on technology to help you create great content. Again, no system is absolutely accurate.
Besides, I’ve come across a lot of words that were spelled correctly that were missing from various word processors, such as Libre Office’s database.
As for using AI to write content, I would never use it. I think there is too much taking away from human interaction as it is. And, I’m not that lazy.
Why Shouldn’t You Edit Your Own Writing?
When it comes to major projects, you should probably never edit your own writing. For one thing, we’re not perfect…we will make mistakes.
As a blogger, you’ll get all kinds of people pointing that fact out to you.
Secondly, when writing out a piece of content, our brains believe the errors to be correct as they were written. Although there are some that are blatant errors, a lot of minor ones will slip through the cracks.
That is as long as the writing is fresh. The longer you wait to edit, the less likely your brain will recognize those issues as being accurate.
Another problem that can arise is how some writers will read a piece according to how it was supposed to be written, not what is actually on the page.
Sometimes this means missing entire words that were supposed to be there but aren’t.
Some professionals call this, “being too close to the work.” This is why taking time away from the piece can be helpful.
Unfortunately, not all of us can afford someone to edit our writing. Especially when it comes to something as simple as a blog post.
Using the above methods, though, can greatly decrease the amount of embarrassment you might face when someone points out an obvious error.
Do the Best You Can
No writer is perfect. All we can really do is try our best to create content that is legible and comprehensive. Although the methods above can vastly help you along the way, understand that you will make mistakes.
And that’s OK. No one is infallible.
Just do the best you can when you edit your writing and continue to learn and grow. Some errors will slowly disappear over time as you continue to write.
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