Tips for editing your writing

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No matter what type of writing you do, it can be easy to miss your own mistakes in the editing process. Since you wrote the words, you often read what you intended to write (and not what is actually written). You can’t see any flaws in your writing because you’re just too close to it.

Use these five tips to edit your own work more effectively — and to improve your writing.

1. Let Your Writing Rest for a Few Hours or Days

The more distance you put between yourself and your writing, the easier it is to make improvements and find mistakes. When possible, let important writing sit for a few days. When you pick up the material again, it’s almost like proofing someone else’s work.

If you don’t have the luxury of letting your work sit for days, then a few hours will have to do. Find another activity that will help you distance yourself from the writing. You might want to take a jog, wash the dishes, or take your dog to the park. Do something that clears your mind. Ideally, you can approach the work from a fresh perspective.

2. Read Your Writing in a New Format

Seeing your writing in a different format can help you correct everything from misspellings to poor word choice. If you have access to a printer, make a paper copy that you can use to note changes.

If you don’t have a printer, you can get a fresh look at your text by changing it to a different font, color, or size. You can even convert your text to HTML for a new perspective. It’s almost like reading someone else’s work on the web.

3. Read Your Writing Out Loud

This is a helpful tip for writers of all skill levels. Brains are tricky machines that often see what they want to see. Reading silently makes it easier for your brain to correct mistakes and fill in gaps. If your brain expects to see the word “off,” then it will quietly transform similar words, such as “oft” or “of,” to match those expectations.

Reading out loud disrupts your brain’s attempt to make everything look perfect. You will likely find yourself stammering through poorly worded sentences and pausing at misspelled words. If you have difficulty reading a section, then you know you’ve found a piece of writing you could improve.

4. Read Backwards

Disrupting narrative flow can help you find mistakes you would otherwise miss. Try reading your work backwards, starting with the last paragraph and ending with the first. This approach forces you to pay careful attention to details and makes it harder for your brain to correct mistakes. When you’re fully engaged in reading, you’re more likely to see opportunities for improvement.

5. Use Grammarly to Find and Avoid Mistakes

Grammarly is an automated proofreader that acts as a fresh set of eyes to look over your work carefully and spot spelling and grammar mistakes. Grammarly checks more than 250 advanced rules to find mistakes such as:

double negatives

run-on sentences

comma splices

sentence fragments

double pronouns

dangling modifiers

Writers who use Grammarly can also avoid future mistakes. The proofreader acts as a grammar coach that points out common writing problems and explains how to correct them. After Grammarly proofreads your work a few times, you’ll start to see common weaknesses, so you know what skills you need to improve.

Amir.H.Ghazi

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69 thoughts on “Tips for editing your writing

  1. Excellent advice! I personally can’t edit something properly without printing it out and reading it aloud. Something about looking at my writing on a screen just makes my brain lazy. I never thought of reading backwards though. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Of course :). I’ve even found having a friend or family member (if you can face them reading your work) can sometimes point out an obvious mistake you can miss. Good place to start if you have the confidence to let them read your work :).

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Well, in that case family might not be able to help, but getting some friends, even online ones you trust to read something can sometimes help. Just like you said, coming back to your work is like using a fresh pair of eyes and another person can help too :). And actually coming back to your work after a long while, maybe a week or two at least (if you can afford that time) really makes you see your work differently. I’ve written some short stories before, unpublished, and come back to them after a few weeks and was able to really edit my work and make it far better. Of course I haven’t anything published so mine is just a personal opinion but it has helped me :).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. #3 always works…end up with so many more edits! I might get totally lost on #4!!!! But the best one for me is to put it away for a while and see what happens next.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Great tips! I always find it useful to have someone else look over it before I go away and do a final edit. Also double-spacing the text while writing or proof-reading makes things way easier for your eyes to spot.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I find editing difficult because I oftentimes think of it as a final once-over, but I found by reading a plethora of articles that my subtle changes here and there are really part of the whole editing process. Whew!

        Liked by 1 person

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