You've come up with an awesome idea, done your research, and written a kickass article. At this point, many of us experience the overwhelming temptation to skim it and hit "publish." But while the word editing
is certain to elicit groans heard 'round the copy writing world, it is an indispensable part of the writing process.
If you're like me, having a checklist makes it easier to do the things that aren't exactly the highlight of my day. Follow these editing steps to make your content the best it can be!1. Summarize a goal Write out your aim for the post or article in about 25 words. In order to recognize when you're getting off track or being superfluous, you need to have a clear idea of exactly what you are trying to do. This will also help you to come up with a title that follows the "Four U's of Copywriting": unique, useful, urgent, and ultra-specific.
2. Don't edit while you're writing While it's ok to change awkward wording or restart a sentence, don't try to reorganize your entire piece mid-project, as it can be difficult to stay organized and maintain a cohesive flow if you keep going back and changing whole paragraphs before you've really finished. Have trouble with this? Try Write or Die, an app that promotes forward progress by deleting words if you stop writing for too long. (Scary, right?)
3. Walk away for a few days Or at least a few hours. If you've been staring at the same word document all morning, it can be harder to pick out small mistakes or weak points in your writing. Give yourself some distance from your work, and come back with a fresh perspective for a better read. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
4. Print it out If you find yourself crunched for time, (ah, the joys of a deserted library and a 5th cup of coffee at 3am!) change your perspective by printing your article. Reading the same words in a different and more tangible form can help you pick out awkward phrasing or heretofore undetected errors. Plus, you can write on it. I don't care how prevalent computers become; every writer should still pick up a pen every once in awhile. 5. Read it S-L-O-W-L-Y As difficult as it is after looking at the same words for hours on end, approach your piece as if you've never seen it before. Pretend to be one of your readers, and take in each word with care and curiosity. 6. Start with the big picture Focus on the structure and overall content of your piece before attending to specific sentences or phrases. Even if you end up with beautifully crafted prose, your article will not be useful if it's lacking in content or structurally unintelligible.
7. Slim it down Look for redundancies or unnecessary words and phrases. Strive to be pithy!
8. Spell check!
Despite myself, the value of whatever I'm reading is always diminished when I spot a spelling or grammar mistake. While your word processor's spell check is a great starting point, don't rely on it wholly. Computer programs can miss things like homophones, typos that happen to be actual words ("my" vs. "may"), or even just be plain wrong. (Yes, computers can be wrong sometimes.) Particularly when it comes to grammar suggestions, trust your higher knowledge of the English language and pat yourself on the back for reaffirming the superiority of the human brain.
Most writers never feel as though they are totally "done" with a piece of written work. But if you've written a solid article and taken the time to edit it carefully, allow yourself to stop, breathe, and release it into the world! In the end, something is better than nothing, so don't sweat it if you don't feel that it's perfect. If you want more information on starting a company blog, why not check out our eBook: