Let’s face it–we’re all busy. Who has time to read a book on editing when a deadline is fast approaching? If you aren’t a professional writer or editor, how can you streamline your editing process?
These three quick editing tips can help:
- read backwards
- use editing tools
- meet in the middle
Many writers and editors use this trick. Here’s why it works. In an ideal world, you could put your work aside for several weeks, come back to it, and spot things that need fixing.
In the real world, you have a deadline, and you need to meet it. In an attempt to help, your mind will autocorrect for mistakes so you can finish on time. Unfortunately, the autocorrection happens in your head, not on the screen.
Reading backwards prevents your brain from autocorrecting your writing.
2–Don’t hesitate to use editing tools.
Granted, they are less than perfect. You will still need to look at each suggestion and decide whether to accept it or not. But the editing tools let you focus on problem areas, keeping you from decision fatigue.
Word and Google Docs both have grammar checkers. The Docs version feels more intuitive and emulates programs like Grammarly better. The paid version of Grammarly is robust and superior to both Word and Docs, but it is not perfect. Please don’t accept every suggestion. Sometimes Grammarly (as well as Word and Docs) make mistakes.
Avoid using the free version of Grammarly–Word and Google Docs catch more mistakes than the free version of Grammarly. As an editor I have asked writers if they did a grammar check before sending their writing to me. Several told me they had used Grammarly. Then I asked if they used the free or paid version. Every writer who required major editing had used the free version.
Check out this blog post for a comparison between Grammarly and Word’s Editor.
3–Meet in the Middle When Writing
At first this might not seem like an editing tip, but striking a balance between writing non-stop and writing slowly is important. Instead of writing slowly hoping you won’t be able to catch your mistakes, meet in the middle. Keep an eye out for those mistakes that you make regularly and can be quickly fixed.
For example, I tend to put commas before “and” even when the two clauses are not independent, so I keep that in mind. On the other hand, I tend to use excessive passive structure, but prefer to focus on my ideas and let Grammarly highlight the passive structure.
In a Nutshell–Editing Tips
Next time you need to edit, try these three editing tips. And start with the most important one:
Contact us at Steve Ayers Wordsmith if you need editing services.