I am really excited to announce my blogging partnership with Carrie Kolar from Proof Point Consulting! She is going to contribute a monthly column to help you put your best foot forward when it comes to all your writing needs. Personally, I’ve used Carrie on several occasions to help me with copy writing and making sure all my eye’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. Check out her services page to see how she can help you too!
6 Tips for Easy Editing
Editing is an important part of the writing process, but it is most people’s least favorite step. You already had to sit down and write something, now you have to go back and fix it? Lame. Thankfully, there are some tricks to make the process as easy and painless as possible. While you’re going through this, keep in mind that there are different kinds of editing. There is copy editing, which is editing for grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. Then you can go deeper and edit for flow and structure. Finally, you can edit for content. This is different than editing for flow – it’s the difference between changing “The fish is going against the current” to “The fish is swimming upstream” and deciding that you really should be talking about octopi. Here, we present six tips for easy editing for structure and flow, to keep your writing error-free and take it from good to great. Good luck!
Tip 1: Read out loud
Read what you’ve written out loud. This can pull double duty by helping both copyediting and editing for flow. When you read out loud, your ear can catch what your eye missed, in terms of typos, missing words, or grammatical errors. It can also catch awkward phrasing. When you read your writing over and over, it’s easy to skim over issues because you understand what you meant to say instead of reading what is actually there. Changing up your comprehension by listening to what you’ve written instead of reading it helps to avoid that pitfall.
Tip 2: Read it backwards
No, don’t start from the end and read every word backwards. That’s just confusing. Instead, read every sentence as a whole, starting from the last sentence and moving towards the first. This helps with copyediting by keeping you focused on each individual sentence and its contents instead of getting pulled into the story and skimming over potential mistakes.
Tip 3: Go away and come back
We’ve all hit the point when we’ve been working on something so long we barely even see it anymore. Even before you get to that point, you’ll get diminishing returns on your editing efforts. Instead, go away and do something else for a while, preferably something entirely unrelated. That way, when you come back to your writing, you’ll look at it with fresh eyes.
Tip 4: Do hit spell check
Hitting spell check is the most obvious, low-hanging fruit on the editing tree. Given this, it’s surprising how many times people skip this step. No matter how thorough your editing or proofreading has been, it’s always best to check your work this way. Don’t be embarrassed by misspellings or typos because you didn’t take two seconds to hit a button.
Tip 5: Identify the point, and get rid of anything that doesn’t contribute to it
The best writing gets to the point and stays there. Each section in your writing should make a single point that contributes to the whole. Go through and identify the point (or points) in your writing, and then identify anything that doesn’t contribute to that point. This could be a tangent that can be kept for a later time, or a story that only somewhat relates to your topic. Either way, you can tighten and improve your writing by removing anything that doesn’t directly play into your conclusion.
Tip 6: Simplify.
Write lean. Can you replace a multi-syllable word with a shorter, equivalent word? How about switching to active voice and getting rid of the extra words in a sentence (take a long, hard look at anything that ends with “-ly”)? This tip and tip five help you tighten your writing, getting your point across cleaning and crisply.
There are a lot of ways that you can clean up your writing and create something that wows your reader. But that most important thing to remember is to not be afraid to change things up and delete when necessary. Writing is like growing a rose garden, and editing is like pruning – you will get the most beautiful flowers only when you clear away the dead wood.
I hope these tips help you with your own writing for home or business. If you need more assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I would love to discuss your proofreading and copy writing needs!
Anything you write, we can edit!