Editing in Two Steps

I love editing… other people’s work. You know how many of us don’t like to look at pictures with ourselves in them? That’s how I feel about editing my work. After all the research and rewriting of sentences, I can’t see my writing with fresh eyes anymore.

Occasionally, I’ll read an article I wrote months later and see a few easy fixes. Even if I had read the article the day after I wrote it — I wouldn’t have caught those fixes.

When I edit my work, it feels like I’m doing it with one eye as the rest of me cringes reading my own work. Here are two must-do steps when you self-edit:

  • Sit on the article for at least one night (writing the article in the morning and editing at night doesn’t count — must sleep at least once and naps don’t count either).
  • Read it aloud in my head. I don’t know if it’s a deaf thing or not, but I hear words in my head almost as if they’re being said out loud. My head does a better job than my voice anyway. When I reach a spot that sounds bad, then I say it out loud.

I do have moments when I stop self-deprecating and look at an article with fresh eyes (when it’s published). Occasionally, I’ll respond thinking “Whoa. I wrote that?” (In a positive way.)

It’s easy to forget why you stay in business as a writer when writing something every day and on a regular basis. Your own words sound monotonic (did I use that correctly?) and unimpressive, but then you are surprised when reading an article you wrote over a month ago and seeing that there’s a reason why people hire you, and you feel better about being a writer.

I’m also lucky to have a family willing to be a second pair of eyes.

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