Guest post by Joan DeMartin
In the perfect writing world, you would have teams of dedicated professional editors to review each piece of your writing, and their insightful comments would only enhance your otherwise gifted prose. Uh, wake up! Reality intrudes with the dawn, and we writers mostly have to edit our own writing, whether it's our daily email communiques, blog posts or more detailed business communications.
Admittedly, professional writers for magazines and other publications do have editors, and maybe they’ve also cultivated a few trusted friends who read their work before it hits the editor’s desk. In fact, I heard one New York Times bestselling author say that she always engages two tiers of reviewers: The first group are fellow writers who regularly critique each other’s pieces; the second tier were not professional writers, but friends and acquaintances who loved to read. Only after considering comments from both tiers did the revised piece go to her editor.
But I’m sure she edited her own writing, too, just like we all must before we hit that send button. There are many tried and true self-editing techniques, and others I know have worked for me. But let's review the basics.
Print Out. Read Aloud.
Yes, you can certainly do some quick proofing and revisions on the computer screen, but for serious editing, always print your draft and read it aloud...even if no one is there to hear you. Why is this one of the most recommended and trusted tips for self-editing? First, you're viewing your writing in a different medium than you created it in—digital versus print—which gives your brain a different perspective. And perhaps more importantly, you can hear mistakes, like superfluous words or stilted phrases, that you can't see, so reading your work aloud is crucial to the editing process. But "hearing" your words is not just for catching glaring mistakes, you will also quickly discover whether your writing has "rhythm and flow", and all good writing flows easily off the tongue.