"Write drunk; edit sober."
- Ernest Hemingway
Developing your blog-writing skills is a slow process. Work on your technique continuously and your work will attract readers. Take in readers critiques for they know best how well you are passing on your thoughts. Neglecting the editing aspect of blog-writing will deter your readers from your blog. Here are the reasons why writers need to edit and how to edit your blog articles.
Let's start at the basis of why writers need to edit.
- Inspirational chaos. Say you came across an amazing idea for a blog article that you know and feel will bring in traffic from the web. Then you start typing away with no end in sight. I like to call this ‘verbal/written diarrhea' where your words just flow in every direction. Editing will help your thoughts come together in the end.
- Diverse ideas. Writers tend to get lost in their sentences or words and don't take the time to double-check if their sentences would make sense to a reader. People may capture your writing differently than you had thought. In the creative process ideas get intertwined which can cause for messiness and a blog article that isn't easy to read.
- Grammar and all that other stuff. Editing as you write never works out! Take your time to edit your blog article after you have finished. We all miss one or two words when editing - sometimes we don't even notice when we press the wrong key so spell-checking and revising each article afterwards is a must.
- Oh, you speak English, too? Even if you consider yourself an English-native speaker - edit your articles. Just because you were born into the English language and learned about it all your life doesn't mean you won't make any errors (it's very naïve to think so).
Follow these 7 simple tips to when editing your work that promise great writing skills for future blogs:
- Take a breather after writing. The first mistake writers make is editing their post right when it's done. Writer's thoughts are fresh in their heads and when re-reading their article they might not pick up on the errors right away. Giving yourself time will put you in the reader's seat without prejudice to your own work. You won't remember why you chose that exact word over another. This is the only time I recommend distractions: TV, music, Facebook, what have you. The key is to focus on unrelated things then come back to your article.
- Divide and Conquer. Divide your editing into three processes: content editing, structure editing, and grammar editing. Being more specific while editing will help you focus on specific grammatical errors. Again, take your time.
-Edit content. Review your article keeping an eye out for sections that don't make sense. Look for unfinished paragraphs and fragments. After identifying them, work towards fixing the errors.
-Edit structure. Write your articles in a way that the reader will be able to follow your content. Structure your content using bullets or bold headers.
-Edit grammar. Lastly, edit grammatical errors. This shouldn't take more than 10-15 minutes for a 800-900 word article.
- Less is more. When it comes to words - less really is more. Don't use complicated jargon unless your blog's audience understands the lingo. Readers know when you have used the same words and are saying the same thing again. Remember the reader is smart - don't underestimate their ability to understand your words. Adjectives and adverbs can confuse and distract readers. Keep overused words such as "definitely," certainly," "really," etc. out of your article.
- Don't trust Spell-check. Trust your spell-check software lightly. These tools don't "understand" your writing and don't grasp variations of sentences or word usage.
- Read at random. Choose a random paragraph from your article and edit it. Then choose anotherrandom paragraph and edit that one. Do so until you have finished editing them all. I know you're asking yourself why? This tactic stops you from reading in "autopilot." You wrote this article so you know what's coming next and you may miss obvious mistakes.
- Don't overdo it. What's harder than actually starting the editing process? Knowing when you've had enough. No sense beating a dead horse. If you find yourself rewriting the same sentence over and over then you should call it a night. Reaching the publishing stage is stressful, but don't let your indecisive editing keep your article in the drafts folder.
- Learn from your mistakes. After following the steps above, you will be closer to a perfectly written masterpiece. Learn from the mistakes you picked up in the editing stage. Analyze what you've done wrong and practice to get to your goal writing style. When you write your next article make a list of your mistakes along with your corrections. This will help you remember your mistakes and hopefully not repeat them.
I hope you find the above tips as useful as I have. There are free online tools such as After the Deadline to help with editing. This tool has helped me shift from writing in a passive tone to a more active tone. What actions to you take when editing a blog article?