Tips for self-editing

Pretty much everything I write for my blogs is self-edited. If you read enough of my posts, you will know I’m far from perfect, especially on this blog where I sometimes just want to knock out a few quick thoughts on a subject. Nonetheless, in the interest of sharing and caring, here are some of the tips I use when self-editing.

Tip 1: Use a spelling/grammar checking program

Super obvious, I know, but there is a bit more to it. I recommend you experiment with different options available to find one that is reliable and suits your writing. You may want to have a secret blog post or document that you wrote without any correction that you can run checking programs against. You may be surprised at the variance in what they flag and what portions of a document they successfully check.

Also, don’t 100% trust these programs. Look at, and think about each correction it suggests before you commit. You may have a writing style that is slightly outside grammar norms but helps convey your attitude and meaning. That said, see what it thinks is better and perhaps you might learn something useful or find better phrasing. If you don’t pay attention you may well “correct” some spelling and end up with a word that makes no sense in your sentence.

Tip 2: Give it a rest

I try to allow myself a night’s sleep between writing a piece and editing it. The resting time does a couple of things for you. Firstly, it lets you edit with a fresher, rested mind. Secondly, it helps make editing less boring. Thirdly, you want to edit with a kind of “blank mind.” When you write, you tend to be concentrating on some specific ideas you want to communicate and how you want to say them. Trying to edit with that stuff in your head will give you a sort of tunnel vision which makes it hard to see issues beyond those thoughts.

Tip 3: Read everthing

It is so tempting to skip bits of what you wrote. “Ya ya, I know all that, thanks.” I often feel like I am shoving my face into the words when my brain wants to move on to the next piece. Don’t let it do that and take everything line by line. Read every caption, every title, every tag, everything! If you re-write something, re-edit the part you re-wrote.

Tip 4: Read it out loud

This really helps you when your brain isn’t so fresh or is rebelling at the prospect of editing. The more you aren’t into the editing, the more you should consider reading out loud. The practice forces you to pay closer attention and sometimes hearing yourself will highlight issues you don’t see.

Tip 5: Don’t beat yourself up

Self-editing is difficult and generally not as effective as having another professional edit your work for you. If you do miss something you or others find later, don’t sweat it, just fix it. Hey, there’s probably something I missed in this short post! (Though that would be a little embarrassing, wouldn’t it?)

Sigfried

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