7 good tips for your most important editor: You
Even if we still lived in that possibly mythical old world where three or four editors went over your story with a fine-tooth red pencil and polished it until it gleamed, the most important editor in your career would still be you.
In this world in which we live in*, being your own best editor is crucial. That’s why I like to pass along good editing and copy editing tips whenever I come across them.
* I was 10 when the Paul McCartney song “Live and Let Die” came out, with that ungrammatical phrase prominent in the first few lines. Even then, years before I had my first inkling of a future in writing or editing, or much of an interest in either, I thought, “Didn’t they have someone around to tell him to take out one of those ins?”
Social Media Today last week offered 7 Editing Tips to Improve Your Blog-Writing Skills, presumably because blogs are a social media, but the tips work for any kind of writing.
The post, by college student and social media marketing strategist Natalie Contreras, takes a few paragraphs to get going, but then gets into some solid advice, including something I’ve never tried but sounds like a great idea:
5. Read at random. Choose a random paragraph from your article and edit it. Then choose another random 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.
Contreras also suggests the free online tool After the Deadline, which allows you to paste a chunk of type into a box and offers suggestions on potential spelling and grammar mistakes.
But don’t get comfortable with tools like that because they aren’t as good at editing as you can be. Contreras acknowledges that with her fourth tip: “Don’t trust spell-check.”