My high school English teacher was never satisfied. She made us work and rework every assignment. Through editing, each version was an improvement. Hers was one of the most beneficial classes I ever took.
Editing is not just the process of checking for grammatical and spelling errors, though correctness here is crucial. True editing is a process by which one makes a piece better – much better: more focused, more compelling; a piece with impact. A well-edited piece will engage, educate and entertain your reader.
The result is a reader who feels enriched — even inspired — by the experience.
It is difficult to edit one’s own work. We’re so used to looking at it, we don’t see it any more. But training yourself to read your own work objectively and critically, asking: “How can I improve this?” is time well-spent. Learning to read your own work as someone else might is a talent that is difficult to master but indispensable if you are going to publish. Whether you are writing a blog post, an ebook, a whitepaper, an article, a newsletter or a book…
Here are some tips to self-editing:
- Craft a grabber headline, lead-in sentence and initial paragraph
The ideal headline incorporates your chosen SEO keywords but also renders the article irresistible. Asking a question is one of the best ways to lure blog readers. Your lead-in sentence makes a promise upon which your piece will deliver.
- Cut the fat – make each sentence count
Getting attention is hard enough; don’t lose it with rambling, extraneous sentences.
- Don’t use a 50-cent word when a 10-cent word will do
Keep your premise, and your delivery, simple.
- Use descriptive phrases – set the stage for your reader
Your job is to entertain. Telling a story, describing a compelling situation, even incorporating a relevant quote will engage your reader.
- Be concise – tell your story and make your points, logically
Each sentence and paragraph should build on the one preceding. A blog post introduces one idea, backs it up with substantiating points and ends with a conclusion.
- Make sure your spelling, punctuation and grammar are flawless
As the writer, you are the expert; there is nothing that will tarnish that image faster than a typo.
- Edit each piece multiple times, and at different sittings
Stepping away from a piece for a few moments or a few days is a good way to gain clarity. You may also consider asking someone else to review your work.
The more you edit, the better your work. And the better your work, the greater the results!