Every writer knows that editing is an essential part of the writing process, whether it’s a novel or a one page article. While some writers have professional editors to do the job, most of us need to rely on our self-editing skills.
As a freelance writer, bulk of my work involves writing content for the internet (e.g. business blogs, ebooks, informative articles). For me, self-editing is not just about correcting grammar and spotting missing words. As I move from the draft to the final copy, self-editing helps me adhere to the following key aspects –
- The headline is clear and powerful
- Article sub-headings are clear
- Each section flows seamlessly into the next.
- Each paragraph is coherent.
- Every information is relevant to the reader.
- Each thought is expressed with the greatest clarity, in the fewest possible words.
- That I have fully weighed the possible interpretation / implication of each sentence (this is particularly significant as most of my clients are selling a product, service or, the information itself).
Of course, the cardinal rule of a good edit is to start editing once you have finished writing. As I write, I do check each paragraph for correctness of grammar and cohesiveness of information presented. But majority of the editing happens at a later stage.
My typical editing process looks something like this:
Write > Minor Corrections > Write > Finish the Article> Step Away from my Desk for a While> Come Back and Read the Completed Article > Begin Editing > Re-read the Article Aloud > Re-edit sections> Read the Article Aloud > Satisfied with Outcome 🙂 > Submit to the client.
Reading the article aloud during the editing stage is a great way to catch missing words, or spot unnecessary words. When in doubt, I ask someone else to read the final edited version, before sending it to the client.
A typical 1000 word article ( or 2 pages) takes me about 30 minutes for a good edit. Am I overdoing or under-doing it, I can’t say. But it’s what works for me.
In fact, you don’t have to be a writer to realize the importance of self-editing. We have all had this recurring experience at work – you send out an office email without reading it carefully, only to realize later on the glaring mistakes in the email. At the very least a poorly drafted email makes you feel like a fool and you say to yourself, “Hey maybe the other person will also not notice”. But if you are unlucky, a badly worded email could put you in a spot of bother.
Clearly, all of us need to self-edit to achieve results. Unfortunately, when we do something day in and day out, complacency sets in. I realized I was guilty of slacking up in my editing effort over the last few assignments when I read a post by fellow blogger Amanda Fox- Rouch, titled ‘The editing process: Be unforgiving’. And as was to be the case, I spotted some errors in the last document sent to a client. 😦
Whatever your line of work, ensure that you have re-read what you have typed before you press the ‘send’ button on your computer / smartphone screen. If you are a writer, I would love to hear your editing tips and how long does it take you to self-edit your work.