Tips for Self-editing

Even if you plan to hire an editor, it’s a good idea to edit your own work as much as possible. That said, it can be hard to edit your own work. Especially when you feel like you’ve been working on it so long that it your eyes seem to glaze over at the mere mention of it. Today I want to give you some practical tips for getting through edits.

  • Give it time. I find I pretty much always need to let a project sit for awhile before doing serious revisions. Give your brain a little time to forget some of the details so that it doesn’t just gloss over them while reading.
  • Change the font. I’m alway surprised by how effective this is in tricking my brain into thinking that I haven’t read the page a hundred times before. It’s subtle, but I’ve found it useful.
  • Print it out. I think everyone has had that experience where they notice a typo as soon as they print out a paper or hit send on an email. I don’t know why this happens, but you can use it to your advantage. Like changing the font, looking at a printed page will help your brain see the work in a fresh light.
  • Go through it backwards. This is something I suggest if you’ve made it to the line-editing stage of revisions. Start with your last sentence and then work your way to the beginning. This forces your brain to focus on the flow of individual sentences, rather than the story at large.
  • Vary your reading speed. I think sometimes it’s really helpful to go through the manuscript really slowly. Other times I like going through really fast. I notice different things depending on how fast I read.
  • Change your environment. This may be as simple as moving from your living room couch to your kitchen table. Just switch things up a little bit so that your brain is forced to pay more attention.
  • Read it out loud. Or have somebody else read it out loud, if you can. Listen to which parts make you stumble. Those are your problem areas.
  • Edit for somebody else. You’re more objective when editing for other people. Look at strengths and weaknesses in their writing. Then compare it to your writing. Are you struggling with the same things. Or are they really good at something you have a hard time with? Learn from them.
  • Refine your process. The more you edit, the more you know what works for you. You’ll get better the more you do it.

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What editing tricks have worked for you? Share in the comments!

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