11 Tips for Editing Your Own Writing (Plus a Checklist)

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Starting your self-edit can be pretty daunting, so we ve put together some pointers to help you along.

“We were starting to …” or “She was skiing toward …” Whenever you see an “ing” in your copy, think twice about whether you need it — because you probably don’t.

11 Tips for Editing Your Own Writing (Plus a Checklist)

Good editing can transform a mediocre piece of content into something great. It’s one of the most important aspects of the writing process, but a surprising number of writers underestimate its value.

The Importance of Self-Editing

Becoming a good editor of your own work takes time and practice, but it’s worth it. You’ll learn how to improve the structure and style of your writing, communicate more clearly and eliminate grammatical errors.

Companies want copy that reflects well on their business, provides value to their readers and drives sales, so well-edited content will also look more attractive to content buyers.

Are you ready to become a better editor? You may not have access to a professional editor, but you can use the following tips to help you edit your own writing more effectively.

1. Read Your Writing in a New Format

If you typed it, print it out. Alternatively, convert your Word document to PDF format, or change your text to a different font, color, and size. These techniques will help you see your content from an “outsider’s” perspective and give you a more critical eye.

2. Take a Break

Let your writing rest for a few hours or overnight. Putting a literal distance between you and your work also creates an emotional distance. When you return to it, you’re more likely to spot awkward phrases and obvious mistakes.

3. Read it Out Loud

To discover the rhythm of your writing, read it out loud. The best writing sounds smooth, so if you find yourself stammering through poorly worded sentences, you know it needs improving.

4. Remove Uncertain Language

Good communication sounds authoritative, so avoid wishy-washy sentences. If you use phrases like “seems to be” or “could be a reason for,” you sound indecisive and it weakens your message.

5. Avoid Repetitive Phrases

Try not to rely on certain words or phrases to make your point; readers will notice when you repeat yourself. Aim for variety. Use a word frequency counter to find repetitive words and scan a thesaurus to find alternatives.

6. Eliminate Filler Words

Use your word processor’s find functionality to search for “there,” “here,” and “it” to find redundant words and phrases. For example:

The sentence formation weakens the writing with unnecessary words that lack focus. This is more effective:

7. Remove Weak “To Be” Verbs

Using versions of the verb “to be” can weaken the words that follow. Replace “am,” “is,” “are,” “was,” “were,” “been,” and “being” with stronger alternatives. For example:

8. Remove Weak Adjectives

Weak adjectives also spoil your writing. When describing nouns and pronouns, use more powerful adjectives and avoid the words “really” or “very.”

9. Use Grammarly to Find Mistakes

The Grammarly proofreading tool looks at spelling and grammar mistakes and checks more than 250 advanced rules to find mistakes such as double negatives, run-on sentences, and dangling modifiers. After you’ve used Grammarly a few times, you’ll start to see common weaknesses in your writing.

10. Subscribe to The Chicago Manual of Style Online

The well-known writing guide to style, usage, and grammar is now accessible online. If you write for a living, consider paying for an annual subscription. It’s currently $39, but with advice covering every aspect of the mechanics of writing, you’re investing in your future as a writer.

11. Separate Your Editing Tasks

If the thought of editing your own work terrifies you, break down the tasks into a series of manageable steps. In the first read-through, check your ideas flow logically. In the next read-through, look at sentence structure, and so on.

An editing checklist will help you clean up your writing and spot common mistakes. Here’s an example of a basic checklist to get you started:

Editing-Checklist

Your editing checklist should be tailored to your strengths and weaknesses, and you can adapt it over time to your particular needs as a writer.

Become a Better Editor

Self-editing is a key part of the writing process. It can transform average content into great content that people love to read. As you become more aware of your writing strengths and weaknesses, your editing skills will also improve.

Use these editing tips for your next writing project. Your content will be more enjoyable to read, have more impact on readers, and you’ll increase your marketability as a writer.

How to edit: Follow these copyediting tips

You could find anything from spelling mistakes to chronological inconsistencies that you didn t catch when focusing on some of the bigger picture issues. Affect is usually a verb that means to create a change in something, while effect is usually a noun that describes a change that is caused by something.

A powerful hyphen here and a thought-provoking semicolon there can be effective. But a piece of writing littered with all sorts of punctuation — parentheses, colons, ellipses, etc. — doesn’t flow well.

Resources:

https://blog.reedsy.com/self-editing-tips/

11 Tips for Editing Your Own Writing (Plus a Checklist)


https://thewritelife.com/edit-your-copy/
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