If you’ve ever wondered how to edit your own work, here are a few tips to get you going. However, I highly recommend hiring a professional editor for any work that will be printed or published. Nothing looks or feels worse than an obvious grammar or spelling mistake on paper.
When Lisa and I teamed up to create Speaking Your Truth, I followed the motto – good is good enough, although she pushed me for more perfectionism, I pushed back with letting go. Now – after it’s all said and done, I agree with her – when your work is in print, make it look pretty.
Prior to giving your work to a professional editor, here are a few ways you can get your work into tip-top shape.
First, give it some space. Reading a piece for edits just after you’ve written it is extremely difficult, for even the most experienced writers. A little time and space between writing and editing will guarantee that you have fresh eyes on your work. When you edit immediately after writing something your mind still knows what you were thinking and can easily miss glaringly obvious mistakes like using knot for not, or our for are, or there for their. Allow at least 24 hours between writing and editing; even better give it a full week.
Next, read your work out loud. While that may not sound fun or feasible – it works. There’s something about hearing it out loud that will trigger the editor to find the mistakes. It also forces your brain to see the words in order to speak them. You can also hear sentences that are run-ons, that don’t flow with the others in the body of work, or will simply sound choppy to the reader.
Lastly, read it backwards. Yep, that’s right. To me, nothing works better than reading your work backwards. Simply start at the end of your piece, chapter, or article and then read line by line starting with the last one. Read one line, move to the previous line, then the one before that. It’s amazing the difference this makes. It allows you to see the work sentence by sentence instead of a conceptual viewpoint.
Here’s a bonus tip – write ahead of schedule. Writing under strict deadlines is a surefire way to editing nightmares. The tighter you are on the deadline, the less likely you are to reread your work, look for errors, and fix them before sending it off to print, publish, or post.
Do you have an editing tips that works for you? We’d love to hear about it. Share your editing tips below.
Are you writing a book, or just considering it? Have you finished your manuscript and not sure where to go next? Are you thinking about self-publishing or looking for time-money-energy-saving tips? Check out services by Self-Publishing Experts in getting your work out into the world.