You’ve done it! You’ve written a book, article, essay, or something else equally awesome and exciting. You’re thrilled to throw down that final period and relax, knowing your vision has finally been committed to paper.
Well, you might not want to rejoice just yet; there is still work to be done. Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but the fact of the matter is that now your work needs to be edited!
It’s true, editing your own work can be tricky. Once you really sit down and read what you’ve written, one of two pesky and unproductive thoughts will inevitably surface:this is great! It doesn’t need any work! or, Ugh, this is crap. What was I thinking? I can’t write.
Well, take a deep breath and steel your nerves… I’m here to help, with four quick tips to make your editing go more smoothly.
1. Print out your work.
It’s much easier to catch errors or things that aren’t working if you’re reading off a piece of paper. Print out your work and read through it—all of it—slowly, with a red pen in hand. Are your main points clear? Any typos?
2. Read it out loud.
Yes, you might sound a little silly, but think of it this way: this is great practice for when you’re invited to present at events. Again, read slowly and don’t skim over anything. Make sure you haven’t added in any unnecessary words or left out any vital ones.
3. If it trips you up, take it out.
A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you get tongue-tied while trying to read a certain section, that particular part needs work. Ask yourself how you can write that line more simply.
4. Read it backwards.
It might sound counterproductive, but if you’re simply proofreading and not checking for continuity or clarity, start from the last page and work backwards. (This tip is particularly useful if you’re experiencing editing fatigue!)
These are only a few basic tips to get you started. For more writing and editing advice, follow me on Twitter @alison_face or visit my website, Happy writing!
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