One of the hardest tasks I face as a freelance writer is editing my own work. Perhaps, you can relate. Of course, you might be better than I am at this and find it simple. Congrats! Unfortunately, I am not blessed with the skill to expertly edit my own writing without a great deal of effort. Consequently, I frequently miss things that I should have caught, only to notice them months later when I review the order for another purpose. If this is something you struggle with as well, this article is for you…
Why It’s Hard to Edit Your Own Work
If you are like me and find it next to impossible to perfectly proof your own work for typos, grammar errors, etc., you might wonder why it’s so difficult. I can easily see the mistakes in someone else’s writing. It’s as if the errors jump off the page glaringly. It’s impossible to not see them. With my work, though, I will miss something as simple as my writing “stabling” instead of “stabbing” pain. Why is this? Turns out, it’s normal. When I write, I am transferring the ideas in my head onto the page. Later, when I read it again in an attempt to edit it, I recall what I meant to write via my thought process, not what is actually written in plain text. In essence, I am blinded to my own errors because I know what I “meant” to write. This makes editing extremely difficult. Thankfully, though, there are some trips to “trick” the brain into seeing the errors, at least a little more often. They are listed below:
Writer Tools for Success: Improving Your Writing Through Self Editing
Inspired by tips from the Daily Muse
Read it Audibly: Out Loud
Most often, colloquial sayings, witty turns of phrase and general conversational content is of course what you are going for as a writer. The last thing you want is to produce content that is jerky, unbalanced or simply isn’t pleasant to read. Thankfully, you can easily find those jangling sentences and words that just aren’t exactly ideal when you read your written copy out loud. When reading, note any piece of the article that causes you to stumble or pause over the words. This indicates a sentence or phrase that needs a bit of smoothing. If you stumble over your own sentence even though you know what you meant, imagine how awkward it will feel for your readers. By reading your writing out loud, you serve the role of the audience and get the feel of the piece from another perspective.
Print it Out in Physical Form
This is a pain. I get it. I understand, and it can seem a waste of paper and ink. However, if you can print your work out from the digital form into physical by putting it on paper, it will greatly aide you in the editing process. Printing it out tricks the brain into looking at the work from an outsider’s perspective, instead of your own. Once you print out your content, read it through and begin making corrections with a pen. Yes, it’s old school, but it works. I personally use a red pen, so it shows up easily against the black text. When I started my writing career, I did this with every order, but got away from it a bit over time. It is time-consuming. However, I recently got back into the habit and can tell I am catching more errors this way.
Walk Away From Your Screen
Sometimes, waiting to read over a piece is simply not a luxury you have, due to a tight deadline. If this is the case, you might have to skip this tip. If you do have the time to spare, though, step away from your computer and go take care of a task. Load the dishwasher, put some clothes into the washer, go on a quick walk, etc. When you return to your computer after a some time has passed, you will instantly see the copy with fresh eyes, as the brain will disconnect a bit from what it believes is written and see what is actually present. It doesn’t have to be an extremely long pause either, even a small break can help.
I hope the tips listed above are as helpful to you as they have been for me. I am far from perfect when it comes to editing my own content, but at least these steps make the process easier. Contact us to learn more about WA and the fabulous writers and editors who call it home.
Brandie P. has enjoyed practicing freelance writing as a profession for almost a decade. She believes well written content gives any website or business an edge over their competitors. Therefore, she strives to maintain a level of professionalism in her work that will consistently elevate her clients and hopefully increase their revenue, reach and even reputation. She is happy to work with you today on your next project and especially values making long-term client/writer relationships.