How Do I Edit My Work as a Freelancer (And Avoid Word-Blindness)?

In the modern digital age, writing serves as both a promising career path and a lucrative freelancing opportunity.

Freelance writing is one of the most popular occupations in the gig economy, a rapidly growing employment sector that also includes rideshare driving and various creative and marketing gigs.

How Do I Edit My Work as a Freelancer (And Avoid Word-Blindness)?

The unfortunate reality for many freelancers, however, is that strong writing skills aren’t necessarily synonymous with editorial skills.

According to the annual Freelancing in America study, 35% of the U.S. workforce freelanced in some capacity in 2019, and writers are in high demand.

Yet writing can’t stand alone.

When it comes to web content, from blog posts to journalistic articles, learning how to edit is a crucial part of the process.

The unfortunate reality for many freelancers, however, is that strong writing skills aren’t necessarily synonymous with editorial skills.

Even Stephen King, one of the most prolific and popular writers of all time, has referred to the editing process as “divine.”

Of course, most writers don’t have the resources of King or the ability to hire an editor for every writing job.

So, what happens if you must work as both writer and editor?

Self-editing can lead to what’s known as “word blindness,” a term that has historically been associated with dyslexia.

During Victorian times, those who were unable to recognize and/or understand the words on a page were referred to as “word blind.”

Today, article writers and bloggers from all walks of life may find themselves effectively word blind when attempting to self-edit.

The good news is that you already have plenty of tools in your arsenal that can help you to effectively edit your own work as a freelance writer.

What It Takes to Be a Great Editor

In a nutshell, the job of an editor is to take a piece of writing and ensure that it’s coherent and accurate, as well as written in the proper tone and style.

Learning how to edit typically involves correcting grammatical and spelling errors, ensuring a smooth flow of prose, and fact-checking where appropriate.

Self-editing is an extremely nuanced job that requires you to be as objective as possible, as you’re effectively pointing out your own mistakes, whether it’s a typo or excessive wordiness.

In this way, self-editing will help you grow and blossom as a writer.

When it comes to pinpointing the best practices of editing and proofreading, plenty of ambiguity exists.

Some writers, for example, edit their work as they write, while others leave errors alone until their initial draft is completed.

The most important thing to keep in mind as you delve into the world of learning how to edit is that the process is highly personal, much like your own unique writing style.

As a writer, you already have a strong grasp of grammar and syntax along with a dash of creativity.

The majority of your written work likely has strong bones which will streamline the editing process. Once you’re ready to self-edit, start by reading your work out loud.

This simple act is one of the easiest ways to spot overly wordy sentences, silly writing mistakes, and/or errors in grammar and syntax.

While honing your proofreading skills via self-editing, the rewards are myriad. Your future writing work is likely to improve once you feel comfortable in the editor’s chair.

Using Editorial Skills to Jumpstart Your Writing Career

Of course, if your writing is tenacious enough, your editors (yourself included) may find that they have an easy job.

Learning how to edit your work is more of an art than a science, and effectively editing your own work can boost your reputation as a writer.

In a constantly evolving industry, your ability to multi-task via self-editing is a coveted trait that managing editors and similar employers find highly desirable.

Thus, possessing a double-whammy of strong editing and writing capabilities is likely to take you far in the highly competitive industry.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that “strong competition is expected” among job seekers in the writing and editing fields through about 2028.

Learning how to edit your writing may provide the perfect avenue for standing out in a sea of thousands of prospective writers across the country.

What makes writing such a tantalizing career choice?

For starters, job seekers are typically attracted to careers in writing due to the industry’s versatility.

Writing jobs run the gamut from blogger to grant writer, content writer, technical writer, and beyond. You’re also likely to gain numerous soft skills via the act of writing such as the ability to effectively solve problems.

No matter the writing niche you find yourself in, keep the fundamentals of editing in mind as you craft your article, blog post, or grant proposal.

If you embody the mindset of an editor from the moment you accept a freelance writing job, you can avoid falling into the trap of word blindness.

The Business Side of Freelance Writing and Editing

For freelancers, your work doesn’t end once you’ve written, edited, and submitted your latest article or blog post.

Freelance and gig work requires you to serve as your own business manager and personal accountant unless you’re financially stable enough to outsource business-related tasks.

In order to ensure prompt payment for your work, make sure to prepare and submit invoices for your writing and editing work in a timely fashion.

Some employers and websites have protocols in place regarding the invoice submission and payment processes.

You may be required to utilize a particular invoice template for freelance writing and submit that invoice on a particular day of the week or month.

Note that payment matters may vary significantly depending on the website or company that you’re working with.

If you’re writing for multiple websites and publishing companies, keep your invoice paperwork as organized as possible to avoid payment errors. You work hard so don’t allow poor accounting to keep you from receiving prompt and accurate payment for your writing and editing work.

How to Edit Your Writing

To ensure that you avoid word blindness as you delve into the world of learning how to edit your writing, put yourself in the reader’s shoes.

Read your work out loud or consider taking an old-school, analog approach to editing: by printing out the article and editing with an ink pen.

Ultimately, you may just find that honing your editing skills can help you become a better freelance writer overall.

Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he's learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work.

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