- There are several ways to edit.
- There are several perspectives on editing.
- These creative editing methods will help you catch major and minor errors.
Even the best of us make typos and grammatical errors at times. Whether you’re writing quickly and getting “corrections” from your text editor or just miss a beat or two, you’ll always need to go back and fix things.
From correcting small spelling errors to major revisions that improve syntax and readability, there’s a lot to take the red pen to. The fewer errors you have in your writing, the more your readers can trust you.
And you’ll be able to establish yourself as a niche authority so much easier with clean writing. Here are three ways to catch errors in your own work.
The Meticulous Method
This method is one of the most meticulous. It’s great if you’ve just written something technical or something that really exercised your vocabulary.
Take a note card, small board, or other small square item you can’t see through (your hand also works) and cover up all but the first word. Focus hard and make sure the word and all the punctuation is right.
Move on to cover up the third word, then the fourth, and so on until you have checked the whole piece word-for-word.
Doing things this way is kind of slow, but it’s not slower than writing everything two or three times after other people have caught the mistakes!
The Fast Method
This is one of the faster methods of editing. Take something with a spongy tip, like a retractable pen or the eraser end of a pencil, and slowly underline each word as you read it.
This method will help you get through a lot of material quickly. Doing things this way helps you catch rhyming words that may not be spelled right (they’re/their) and other simple mistakes.
Spend a couple of seconds on each word to make sure you get everything right. It’s tempting to breeze through things with this method, but you won’t catch as many errors if you go too fast.
The Tried and True Method for Catching Logical Errors
If you suspect that you’ve got some fleshing out of ideas to do or you feel like you’ve just written a dictionary, you need to try this method.
Start at the end of your piece. Doing this gives you a totally fresh perspective on everything you’ve written, because it’s taken out of context.
Read the last sentence carefully, making any edits on the paper if you can. Then move on to the second to last, then the one before that, and so on until you reach the beginning of the piece.
Intense editors have been known to do this a couple times for really tough pieces. This method just works!
Editing with Confidence
Perhaps the most important thing about editing your own pieces is developing confidence as a writer in the knowledge that you are creating quality work and improving.
When you edit, it’s about more than a few spelling revisions. You want to work on the ideas of a piece and make sure everything makes sense.
As you edit, you will be able to make steady progress toward making work that impresses people. Besides fixing the repeated spelling and grammar errors, you want to find ways to improve the meaning and style of your writing.
Improving builds confidence that will help you take smart risks in your writing. So keep writing and editing as carefully as you can!
Writers know that writing is more than consonants and vowels put together in coherent sentences. It’s about ideas, logic, and connection. As you edit more and more analytically, really meaningful or smart things that you write will start to stand out. You will learn that you have strengths you can build on and develop stronger ideas.
We all have rough pieces that we have to work on more than others before they’re ready for our audience. No matter what you happen to be editing at the time, keep in mind that as you improve, you’ll make more and more strong work and less and less weak work.
Editing for clarity and meaning sometimes means going through a piece backwards, but you’ll get better at catching mistakes as you write if you take the time to do this.
Spending the extra time editing is an important investment in your skill set.