Whether you write for business purposes, just for fun, or even as a way to earn income, it is important to always edit your writing. Especially, if it is to be viewed by another party. Even asking a secretary or friend to do it for you is better than to not edit at all. Here are some things to keep in mind when self-editing your work.
Give It Some Time to Breathe
Once you have finished writing, walk away from it. Give your eyes a rest from the computer or handwritten words for at least fifteen minutes and walk around, cook or anything but stare at that computer screen more.
When writing with a computer, it is very easy for any set of eyes to glaze over and overlook simple things like ‘weight’ was typed instead of ‘wait’, or a misspelling that word processing software cannot catch such as, ‘He waited by the dessert.’ Or was it ‘desert’? Viewing this carefully and correcting immediately will save a lot of confusion.
Read It Aloud
Read the article aloud to yourself. It is also very helpful to record yourself reading it and then playing it back to yourself. If this is not possible, read to yourself without making a sound but do not rely on your eyes only to read for you. This will help you catch things that your eyes will normally miss. Your brain has tendency to self correct things for you. That’s not a good thing when editing.
Read It Again….Backwards
This is an old trick that writers use, which is very effective. It is another method of taking your brain off autopilot, allowing you to catch things you normally would gloss over.
Get Some References
Word processors are getting better daily, but they haven’t quite made it far enough yet. Invest in a dictionary, thesaurus, grammar textbook and possibly, vocabulary builder. These are available online for free but a print edition may be more accessible. Not only is this a good way learn new synonyms and add variety to your writing, they are also very useful for finding ways to correct your errors.
Writing for Online Publication
If you write online, you may want to draft your submissions with a word processing program first. There are lower-priced, off-brand software applications that work well. They are not as good as the better known names, but they can be useful in catching some errors. You could also go online to find free, web-based office applications. Do not ignore the possible misspellings or questionable grammar that these programs point out, even if it is slang or intended to be a unique style of writing. It is usually a better idea to find the proper way to present the information.
Self-editing can be the hardest form of editing to do. The clear picture in your head will often prevent you from seeing the blurry one on the page. Use these techniques to minimize this, and if possible, get somebody you trust and respect, such as Azzurro Blu to edit for you.