Monday, September 10, 2012

Editing Your Own Stuff When You Just Have To Do It


The Necessity of Self-Editing and an Extra Eye
 
By Lauren Bailey
There are few things more grueling to a writer than the editing and revision process. For many of us, once we have an idea for a post, article, essay, or piece, it's easy to write. We're wordsmiths—that's what we do. However, the process of editing and proofreading takes a certain amount of finesse that isn't always easy to come by. Honestly, there is no simpler way to lose the respect and interest of your readers than by producing a piece of writing that is carelessly crafted. This comes down to careful editing and dedicated revision. As self-publishing and online publishing gains momentum in the writing world today, the issue of editing and proper editing is cropping up more and more. Because writers are able to do so much of the process on their own with today's evolving methods for publication, many authors are taking to self-editing. While self-editing is certainly a step in the process, it is not always the entire picture. There are many times that outside editors are absolutely essential. Consider these points for your future writing pieces. Even the most apt and aware writers benefit from a careful and unbiased second set of editing eyes.
Reread, Reread, Reread
Self-editing is a must for any writer—the real trick is to know when to enlist more help. Either way, the first step in careful editing is the practice or rereading. You want to carefully and slowly read through everything you've written several times. Each time look for a new thing. First read for flow and rhythm. Does the language sound natural? Is this the tone and feeling you want to emote? Next reread for errors. Are there sentences that feel unfinished? Did you use the wrong word or phrase in certain areas? Carefully reading through your own writing and getting a feel for how you want it to read is important. You have to be sure that you agree with the way your words come across before you can enlist another person's opinion. Look at the different areas of your work. Does the beginning grab your readers' attention? Are you getting across all the details and information you want to communicate? Rereading is essential. You have to find in your own voice and mind the way in which you want the piece to sound.
Give Things Space
This step is one of the most essential aspects of editing any writer can do. Before you can really dig into revising your own writing you have to give the writing some space. One of the biggest challenges we have as writers can be approaching our writing fearlessly and in an unbiased manner. You have to back away from your piece and give it some space before you'll be able to rip it apart and rebuild it. Having a critical eye as an editor is important. But, doing so when we are so close to the thing we have just written can be very difficult. In many ways, our writing becomes a part of us. We spend so much time carefully slaving over and crafting the perfect sentences with the perfect structure, that the mere idea of changing things can be sickening. Distance can help. Give yourself time to let those pieces age a little. Coming back to a piece weeks even months later can help you to become more critical of your writing. A fresh set of eyes may help you to see flaws in logic, small errors, and awkward language.
Enlist New Eyes
Of course, the bottom line is that even our own fresh eyes can't be as effective with editing that a completely separate pair of eyes. Whether you hire a professional editor or you ask a fellow writing friend, having someone outside of yourself look through and mark up your work is essential. Because you are the one who wrote the material, it can be extremely difficult for you to pinpoint points of missed logic or over expression. Just having another individual to discuss your work with very carefully can help illuminate areas that need guidance. That being said, editors (friend or otherwise) can also help reassure you that your craft is strong. Having to defend choices you've made with your writing can help you to believe in it even more strongly. I firmly believe that every piece of writing that is being published online, in print, or otherwise, should go through at least two sets of eyes. This prolongs the writing and publishing process, but it ensures that the pieces you put together are thorough and complete.
~Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger for bestcollegesonline.com. She loves writing about education, writing, and health. As an education writer, she works to provide helpful information on the best online colleges and courses. She welcomes comments and questions via email at blauren 99 @gmail.com.

~For nitty-gritty tips on editing go to Carolyn's editing-specific blog, The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor, http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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