Editing often gets the bad wrap of being the worst part of writing. Writers who love to write often grumble and groan about this crucial step. As editors who also write, we have found ourselves to be just as guilty of this as anyone else from time to time. Part of it is the amount of effort and the amount of time and work invested in the piece. Part of it is dread some of us feel about grammar and punctuation and spelling. Part of it is just the simple fact that some of us have never actually been told the best way to revise and edit our own work. We would like to offer a few tiny tips for editing that can make a world of difference in your writing. Here goes…
1) Wait at least a day- preferably a week- to revisit the work. You will be astonished to see how many errors you will find. Our minds can really play tricks on us, and if you edit too close to writing, you can literally think you are reading what you meant to say and not what is actually written. So plan ahead and don’t sacrifice the time between writing and revising.
2) Divide your editing into 3 parts – grammar and spelling, flow and continuity, and polishing touches. This process follows the same logic as the first tip. If you are looking specifically for one type of mistake, you will find them more readily. Also, you will find the process a whole lot less overwhelming if you are one of those writers who hate grammar. Always remember to follow rule #1 and wait at least a day between each of the steps.
3) Always, always, always re-read the piece after you have finished editing. Wait at least 3 days to do this- preferably a month. Many writers may be able to keep this process up on repeat infinitely, but if you revise and/or edit and then wait and read the piece as a whole without looking for any errors, those last few extra spaces and missed little minute errors will flash right out at you.
While these steps add a little extra time into the editing process, they will make up for it in the amount of errors you find, the way you feel about the editing process, and the final product. Who knows, you may actually look forward to editing. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to be your own best critic?