Self-Editing in 9 Easy Steps

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

I write EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even if it’s texting, I consider that a form of writing. Most of the time, however, I write at least an e-mail and blog post each day. Culturally, many of us have become lazy in regards to self-editing/proofreading what we write. In a world where our version of shorthand is “TTYL” or “U” for “You,” abbreviations are the gateway to lazy writing and lazy editing.

Let’s change that.

Since the age of 12, I’ve taken self-editing very seriously. I’m nowhere near perfect, but my “editing detective eyes” have become better and better as time has progressed. Taking your own communications seriously will prompt others to take you seriously, too. Trust me on this one.

I’ve created some resources to help you out with self-editing. These resources don’t replace another set of eyes (or a professional editor), but they will help immensely, especially if you’re helter skelter when it comes to your own writing.

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This checklist is simple and straightforward:

1. Check spelling—don’t rely on spell check for everything, either!

2. Check grammar—ditto to the above ^

3. Proofread your article, e-mail, blog, etc. at least 3xs—don’t be lazy!

4. Review the context/meaning of your wording
-Did you use the right words? (See the common grammar mistakes info graphic below)
-Do you have misplaced/dangling modifiers? http://www.writingcentre.uottawa.ca/hypergrammar/msplmod.html
-Is your message clear and concise?
-Did you cut/edit unnecessary wording?

5. Check your dates & times (if applicable)

6. Check your sources (if applicable)

7. Check your links (if applicable) NO ONE appreciates a broken/incorrect link

8. If you are sending an e-mail, double check your recipient list (and if it’s not an inter-office communication, best practice is to BCC recipients to protect privacy)

9. If working in a Word/Pages document, save often

You can find my checklist on Evernote (I’ve shared it publicly) by clicking HERE. Feel free to copy it to your own Evernote notebook so you can actually use the check boxes that are not shown in this post.

I’ve also made an infographic (my first!) about common grammar mistakes. Check it out by clicking HERE.

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There are, of course, so many more elements to editing, but this is a great start. The resources here can definitely get you through your next e-mail or blog post. However, if you find yourself in need of a professional editor, well…you know where to find me. Happy editing!

The Importance of Brevity (In Exactly 500 Words)

As a writer, it will probably be my life-long struggle to pare down my words and get to the points that really matter. Even in fiction, there’s a line you shouldn’t cross when it comes to the overuse of details. It’s more obvious in non-fiction, especially in journalism-type writings. No matter what the communication avenue, brevity plays a key role in successfully conveying a message.

“Good things, when short, are twice as good.”
—Gracián

As an editor, a key component of my services to my clients includes helping them to develop their projects while getting rid of the chaff. We’re not in high school anymore, so we shouldn’t write bullsh**. If we do, our credibility is apt to go down the toilet. With so much quality content just a Google search away, it is crucial to be clear and concise with our words.

Even editors need editors. My first novel, with notes from my editor. Which is also what I do for my clients.

Even editors need editors. My first novel, with notes from my editor. Which is also what I do for my clients.

Here are 5 simple rules to follow when constructing a communication piece:

  • Write it ALL (Similar to “free writing,” write with abandon, and get all your thoughts out of your brain.)
  • Re-read it while doing a simultaneous edit, at least 3xs (This is where you begin to make sense of everything and weed out the garbage.)
  • Read it aloud (Reading to yourself is one thing; hearing it spoken is a whole different bear.)
  • Ask someone to look over it (If it’s an important piece, another eye is always good. If that’s not an option for you, however, just go over it one more time by yourself; you’ll be surprised to find that it still needs tweaking.)
  • Send it, publish it, deliver it (Release your baby into the world!)

Sometimes, it’s necessary to write something not so brief. However, most of us are guilty of adding in too much fluff. Maybe it’s a culture thing, maybe it’s how we’ve been taught. Either way, in my personal and professional experience, the more clear our communication is, the more beneficial it is.

And, a well-expressed piece of communication is just damn good.

Try the above “rules” when you construct your next e-mail or blog post. You don’t have to be a professional writer; you simply need to take a few extra minutes to do some rewriting and self-editing. The more you practice, the more effective you’ll be with writing and communicating. You can become a better communicator if you put some effort into it.

“Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”
—William Strunk, Jr.

Do YOU have tips to share about the importance of brevity? Leave a comment!

Click HERE to read an article from WebAIM about writing clearly and simply.

Looking for an editor? Contact me TODAY and get a free quote! Let’s work together.