Writing is more than just communicating messages. Some of us use writing as our bread and butter. Why not? It’s fun, it keeps you mentally stimulated and challenged, and it allows your creativity to shine. For those who write professionally, editing your own work is part of your job as a writer. It can be a daunting process, but it can make sure that you always produce quality work.
Editing your work is essential to creating excellent copy, regardless of the platform your work will be published or used on. Make sure that you go over your work prior to turning it in, not just to spot grammar errors, but also to apply changes to improve the way you get your message across.
Here are five tips to make the editing process easier and more effective:
1. Take a Break
When working on a project for a long time, you may get too engrossed in it to notice details that need to be removed or improved.
After writing a piece, take a break. If you still have enough time before you hit your deadline, sleep on it and read it again the following day. Otherwise, step away for a few minutes. Doing so will provide you with fresher eyes for spotting errors, awkward words, and phrases that don’t make sense or don’t communicate your thoughts clearly.
2. Make Notes Before you Edit
Don’t edit as you go. Instead, just make notes on errors you spot and the parts that you think need adjustments. When you apply changes as you read through, you may end up rewriting the whole piece, and that could take up a lot of time.
3. Pretend You’re the Reader or Client
This can be a tough one because as creatives, we tend to be attached and biased towards our work. However, your clients or readers are not interested in your feelings. They're interested in your message and what you have to say.
So put yourself in the shoes of your clients. This way, you'll know what would keep them reading. This will help you determine what to take out in order to make your piece more concise, on-point, and smooth.
4. Don’t be Too Clingy.
There are times when you come up with a brilliant idea, but after writing the piece, you realize that it doesn’t really mesh well with the rest of your work. When you find yourself in this situation, don’t get too emotional and simply scrap that part altogether.
Yes, this can be tough, but it’s worth it. Don't hesitate to chop a couple of sentences—no matter how “genius” you think it is—if it compromises the overall quality of your work. Besides, you can always shelve the idea and use it for a piece where it’s more appropriate.
5. Read it out Loud.
After editing your work, go through it again and read it out aloud. This way, you’ll know if it sounds smooth and the rhythm is just right. More so, this will help you see if you need to change words because they sound too pedantic or vague, and spot missed words and awkward phrases.
The two main elements of good writing are clarity and creativity, and self-editing helps your piece nail both.