There is a good reason why the editor outranks the writer.
While it is the writer who does the heavy labor of coming up with a topic, researching and writing the first draft, it is the editor’s job to make sure that it’s readable, relevant to the target audience and flawless for dissemination.
There is a good reason why an editor outranks a writer.
A job that’s a lot harder than it sounds.
This makes self-editing a challenge even for the most seasoned writers. It’s easier to hand your work to an editor or fellow writer to check for mistakes and feedback to make your writing better than to do it for yourself.
But even for those who can afford the services of a good editor, self-editing your draft is an essential skill to develop and is a good way to understand and enhance your writing skills.
So, how do freelance writers self-edit their own work?
Over time, writers eventually develop their own style and techniques when it comes to checking their own work. However, they usually observe the following pointers as guidelines.
Review Your Work Repeatedly
Give your work a good one over. Or maybe two. Or maybe even more than three.
The point is that after writing your article, it is a good idea to read it to yourself—most writers do it aloud as well—to get a feel of how well it flows.
Aside from readability, it also helps you identify any possible mistakes you may have missed while writing the draft.
Be Thorough and Check Your Spelling and Grammar
Check your spelling and grammar thoroughly. Seems basic, but surprisingly, there are still articles that get published in the web with blaring grammar mistakes such as the mixing up of their and they’re.
A word of advice of on this: (if you have one) your spell checker in your word processor isn’t always right. Read your works thoroughly and check meticulously for any inconsistencies in spelling or grammar.
Your spell checker in your word processor isn’t always right.
Also, if you’re using words you aren’t familiar with or entirely sure of the spelling, do use the dictionary to be sure.
As many French word spellings will show you, not all words are spelled the way you hear them.
Check Your Voice
Ask yourself, “How could this have gone better?”
A grammatically sound article does not always make it a readable one.
Depending on the style and tone your client wants, check your work for any errors in tenses or usage in voice (some clients may prefer the use of active over passive voice in some articles).
And if you notice you are using the same word too many times all throughout—something that can ruin your SEO credibility—try replacing them with synonyms or a group of words that can help get the point across.
Sweep the Fluff Away
Keep the essentials and kick out the fluff. To writers, fluff is literally filler or irrelevant to unnecessary material often typed in to make pieces longer to meet a word count goal.
But keep in mind that, according to research, readers, especially those online, have a limited attention span (about 6 seconds) and would most probably not continue reading your work if a big chunk of it is filler.
Make sure that the material in your work is relevant and informative, presented in a way that won’t make readers think they’re wasting their time.
Check Your Word Count
Mind the word count.
Most publications and clients have a word count specification for the content they need, so be mindful of this when you are doing your editing.
This is especially important when you are checking for and removing fluff from your work.
Take a Rest
Some writers prefer to let their finished pieces sit idle for a few minutes before beginning the editing process. It can help give your mind a break, freshen it up with new perspectives and ideas ready to spruce up your articles even more.
Others suggest giving a day before you begin the editing process. Whichever method you choose, make sure to leave your writing alone before you edit it.
Aim for Top Notch Quality and Credibility
Self-editing means there won’t be someone around to second guess your work or give you guiding input.
Especially if the editing process begins and ends with you, don’t slack off and pass your work thinking that it is good enough—always aim for the best that you can do.
So, if you are unsure about even one fact you included in your work or think a sentence or two could have been written better, edit away until you’re completely satisfied the finished product is one of your best works.
The effectiveness of self-editing, in the end, all boils down to how meticulous and diligent you are in making sure your written content is as factual and effective as possible.
Over time and with practice, you can develop your own self-editing process you can be most comfortable with.
Just remember that the work you will be submitting to your clients will not only reflect your writing skill but also your level of professionalism and your own credibility as a writer.
Tell us in the comments your rules for self-editing your pieces.