Writers might love writing, but editing is another story. Good editing can elevate a piece of writing from acceptable to outstanding. However, many writers cannot necessarily afford to pay a qualified editor and resort to self-editing instead. Follow these four tips for more effectively editing your own writing to transform it from mediocre to exceptional.
Set Your Writing Down
Give yourself some time away from your finished piece before attempting to edit. Tucking away your newly completed short story, blog post, or other work for a few days allows you to return to the piece with fresh eyes. You will then be more likely to notice mistakes or areas for improvement after taking some time off versus trying to edit immediately after you’ve finished writing.
Avoid Editing While Writing
Writers can get hung up on a word, sentence, or even paragraph at times. Rather than constantly stopping to change words and rewrite sentences in the middle of a piece you are working on, try to keep moving forward. Save the editing for the end. Editing tends to be more effective when there is a complete draft to work from.
Change the Format
Reading a finished piece of work in a different format than it was written in can make it easier to identify errors. For instance, a work that was typed in a Word document can be converted to PDF format for editing. Reading the piece as a PDF document gives it a different look. The new format can be enough to help you spot problems that might be overlooked if trying to self-edit from the original file the work was created in.
An almost guaranteed method for seeing your finished work from a fresh perspective is to read it backwards. Start at the end of your piece and read to the beginning. Reading anything backwards is certainly challenging. If you can make it work, though, you will likely catch spelling errors, typos, and other mishaps that can be easily missed when reading through something you are overly familiar with.
The works of even the most accomplished writers can always benefit from a bit of editing. Such writers tend to have access to skilled editors who assist them in putting the finishing touches on their writing. Not everyone can afford the cost of a professional editor. For all the other writers in the world, the self-editing tips above can be an effective (and free!) method for polishing and perfecting one’s own writing.