Self-editing is an important part of becoming a better writer. But sometimes it’s challenging to do – or worse, easy to skip. When it comes to self-editing, these five tips will help you effectively self-edit.
But first, why is self-editing so important? While there are many answers to that question, the one that stands out to me is that publishing a work with numerous errors undermines your authority as a writer. Self-editing allows you to publish your best work.
Take small and large breaks
Here’s how my writing sessions typically proceed. Write for an hour. Get-up to take a small break. Load the dishwasher or check FB. Go upstairs to see how dirty my son’s bathroom is. Decide not to clean it, and go back to my writing. Repeat.
My goal is to stick with writing for several hours without any rewriting or editing. This is where the large break comes into play. I wait for time to pass – several hours, the next day – to look at my work again. Many editors say let days pass. Fresh eyes; fresh perspective. Then I’m more likely to see needed changes in organization, lack of transitions, or missed commas and periods.
Look at your document in different formats
- Change your font size. Making my font larger allows me to see errors more easily. Also, if you typically write in a certain font, try changing your font. Does that help you see your writing in a new light?
- Print your manuscript. Go old-school and read your manuscript in printed form. I’m always amazed at how helpful this is to me.
Be careful not to over-edit
When you over-edit, you can all too easily remove that unique voice of your writing. You might end up with a manuscript that sounds generic, lackluster…and not you.
The worst thing about over-editing? Over-editing is a tool Satan can use against you. Those of us who get stuck in the “this is not good enough” or “this is not perfect” thought category can easily be derailed by the taunts of the enemy. Listen to the enemy’s voice long enough, and you will take yourself out of the writing game. The enemy wins, not Jesus. That’s a travesty to God’s kingdom.
Be careful not to under-edit
Under-editing can be just as detrimental as over-editing. You’re going to find spelling, grammar, and wording changes you want to make.
For a short piece (blog or devotional) I typically do a run-through five or six times. For a longer piece of writing (chapters; manuscripts; book proposals) I will go through a minimum of three times.
And my last and favorite tip…
READ YOUR WORK ALOUD
Every. Single. Word.
Reading aloud makes us slow down and actually read every word. It prevents us from filling in the blanks with words that are not on the page.
Reading aloud has another advantage: we “hear” our writing. Our writing should have a certain unique rhythm, and sometimes we find that more readily when reading aloud. Reading aloud also makes us hear – and sometimes cringe – at those go-to words/phrases we use too often. Can you edit those out?
There’s a time to write, a time to edit, and a time to publish.
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for a $45.00 Devotional Evaluation Service (and a savings of $20.00).
You will receive:
- Written emailed feedback using my devotional checklist
- 15-minute phone call for feedback.
**This special offer ends November 21st**, but you can submit your devotions for feedback anytime through February 2018. For example, purchase this service now to use in the next few weeks, or send me your devotion in the new year. It’s up to you. Just follow these simple steps:
- Go to our Next Step Coaching Services “Request a Free Consultation Call” page – click here.
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- And don’t forget to download the free devotional writing checklist!
I’d love to hear what works for you when it comes to self-editing!