Tuesday, 16 September 2014

5 editing insights

It's been a couple of months since I considered my first draft ready to edit.  I thought I would have finished by now and be ready to submit, but my self-imposed deadline has moved.  Here's why:

1. Editing can't be rushed
There's no point speed-reading my work if I miss out on errors.  I need to apply a careful filter to my writing which requires full concentration.  It meant that when I was knocked out by a horror winter lurgy, I didn't go near my editing - I knew it would affect my deadline, but there was no reason to compromise the quality of my work for the sake of speed.

2. Takes longer than you think
Hand-in-hand with the above insight, I have been blown away by the slow pace of the editing process. My work flow goes a little something like this - write, edit, read on screen, edit, print out, edit, upload changes on screen, edit, reprint, edit, read on screen, edit…  Tedious, yes, but utterly worth it!

3. Best done on screen and paper
No matter how closely I look at the screen, errors slip past.  They're best picked up on paper - double instances of words, extra spaces in sentences where I have deleted sections and not re-formatted properly, poorly worded sentences that need to be edited and rearranged.  Use a combination of your best tools (ie pen and keyboard) and you won't go wrong!

4. Is helped by reading out loud
Those clunky-looking sentences I saw on screen?  Once I read them out loud, I found out where they needed to be fixed.  This has been one of my best discoveries - once I get to the point of calling the manuscript finished, I will go through this process again, just to be sure...

5. Requires another set of eyes
Someone else will see what you've missed - find a literate friend or loved one and let them do their stuff.  Reward them with chocolate or something equally satisfying.

What insights have you discovered during the editing process, whether it be on your blog, creative or business writing?  

Is there anything you would like to share?

8 comments:

  1. I am having a really bad run lately of typos in blog posts I write and when I comment!!
    Love this list!!

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    1. Oooh, am guilty of this too Ann! It's hard because there's always a distraction, kids shouting in the background or something going on!

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  2. I couldn't agree more! When I have big features to submit, 1200 words, I print out and if someone is around just get them to read over as once you've read it for awhile you don't see your own mistakes. I can also sub someone else's copy better than mine, it's the newspaper sub-editor in me! Emily - visiting as part of #teamIBOT

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    1. It's much easier to edit other people's work, isn't it?! Maybe I should print it all out in a different font and pretend someone else wrote it? Thanks for coming to visit!

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  3. I am writing yet another dissertation and as with any writing, I give it to someone else to read. Sometimes if I am overfamiliar with a text, I can no longer see flaws or even typing errors. I rarely read out loud but it is definitely something I am keeping in mind for another time. Good luck with your editing. Cx

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    1. Another set of eyes is always a help - hope the reading out loud works for you. Tends to show me over-long sentences and words that could be improved by being rearranged. Thanks for calling in!

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  4. I definitely always need a second reader. Totally agree with Christina: overfamiliarity with a texts means I miss my own flaws and errors. I prefer to edit on paper, pen in hand. xxx

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  5. Great tips! I always find paper reading works best, and yes reading aloud. Sometimes you think something sounds right until you read it out loud and then it sounds so wrong!

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