Editing your own writing

One of the challenges of writing is being able to edit your own work. It can be difficult to be objective about your writing, especially if it’s a piece you’ve rewritten several times. The words can become a blur. Something else that can happen is that, when you read your own story, you get pulled into the plot. You’re unable to stay outside of the story long enough to see it as someone else would.

But all is not lost. Here are some tips that will make it easier to edit your own writing:

  • Set the writing aside for a few hours or days.
  • Read the copy backwards, sentence by sentence or word by word.
  • Circle the verbs. This is great way to uncover inconsistent verb tense.
  • Look for one problem at a time. For instance:
    • Have you consistently used “said” or “says”?
    • Is the name of the source quoted in the article spelled correctly each time it is  used?
    • Use the “find” feature to see how many times you’ve used a certain word.
  • If you’ve been working on a computer, print out the article or story and proof the hard copy.
  • Change the “zoom” setting on your computer. It’s surprising how reading something in a different type size will point out different things.
  • Circle commas and then check to make sure they’re used correctly.
  • Use a software program that checks spelling and grammar.
  • Make a list of grammar, punctuation and spelling errors you commonly make. Refer to that checklist before sending your writing out.
  • When writing for a particular publication, refer to its style sheet to make sure you’ve followed those rules.

 What editing techniques have you found useful?

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