On Editing

Untitled InfographicAny good writer knows that editing is a crucial part of the writing process. It turns a random stream of consciousness, which is actually a page-long sentence, into coherent prose.

We all make typos and grammatical errors while writing. Editing polishes everything until the words flow like a sweet harmony off the page.

Yet, no two writers edit the same. There are various editing styles, ranging from when one edits to how.

Many writers I know do not allow themselves to edit anything they’ve written until they have completed a project. They restrain themselves from editing to foster the creative flow and prevent belaboring over every sentence.

Others, myself included, edit as they write.

This technique slows down the writing process. Editing and writing simultaneously consumes twice the amount of mental energy and it involves a lot of re-reading.

I’ve found, however, that my work tends to be more coherent and well organized by the time I’m done writing. All that extra time and energy leads to a more finished product.

“Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.”
Patricia Fuller

Even though the structure of my work may be better off for editing while writing, typos and poor grammar still abound. When writing and editing at the same time, I don’t search for small errors. I’m thinking big picture and word choice.

 

How do you edit?

My favorite editing technique is to read aloud. I’ve found that I catch SO MANY mishaps when reading my material that way.

I’m also partial to editing on a print-out. Editing tools for Word and other writing software have vastly improved, but I can’t forgo the tactile experience. It’s far easier and environmental to edit on the computer; you can just attach the saved comments and email them off!

During an editing course with Poynter, I learned that changing the nature of the text tricks your brain into treating the material as if it’s new. This brain trick prevents your mind from skimming automatically and glancing over small typos. Changing the reading setting from digital to print is one way to fool your mind!

Editing is priceless.

What’s your editing style? 

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