Want to learn how to revise and edit your own writing?
As most of us already know, the editing side of writing can be a stressful process. If you need to do all of the editing on your own, it can be a lot of pressure. Even if you plan to have a professional edit your work, you want to give them clean writing, which requires you to do some editing on your own anyway. Well, editing doesn’t have to be the painful process it is commonly known to be. Believe it or not, there are ways to make it easier on you and still end up with better results. I will give you a hint…it involves lots of breaks!
If you do not already know them, there are somewhat universal symbols used for editing. These symbols were created to make editing easier and faster. Even though it might be painful at first, learning these symbols will help you in the long run. Also, they make you look like you know what you are doing. Here is a link to all of the editing symbols you should ever need from NY Book Editors.com.
I am all for saving the planet, but printing out your work, holding it in your hands and physically making changes is incredibly helpful. It is easier to spot mistakes because you are not straining your eyes as much by staring at a computer screen and you can easily focus on one page or one paragraph at a time. It is also much easier to keep track of the edits you are making because they will all be clearly marked on paper.
Read through each paragraph, page or section entirely before making any changes. Once you have read it, then go back and dissect each sentence and each word. Doing this will allow you to keep in mind the over all flow of the section and the difference any changes made will have.
Go through and make the changes that only have to do with clarity and coherence. This is where you would take sections out, add sentences, strengthen the writing and make sure everything flows nicely. Then go through and edit for grammar, punctuation, and spelling. This is the part you would need a good grammar book and a dictionary.
In order for your revising and editing to be successful, you need to develop an unbiased opinion, which is obviously easier said than done. You are most likely going to need to take some sections out and you’ll need to be able to not have a breakdown every time that happens. When an editor reads your work, they see the parts that are unnecessary and would be best left out. Editing your own work requires you to be able to do this.
Take a long break before beginning the editing process. A few weeks should do the trick. Use the time to clear your mind of all things writing and allow yourself to prepare for the editing part. Don’t look at your writing at all during this time. When you come back to it after a few weeks, you will have a fresh mind to edit with.
Small time segments
You cannot do it all at once. You have to give your brain some time to refresh between editing sessions. Take a nap, take a day trip, read a book (although this may lead to attempting to edit the book you end up reading), anything to clear your mind of what you are editing.
Always make sure to read through each section multiple times with breaks in between. You are almost guaranteed to find something wrong each time you go back to it. In order to make sure you have covered everything thoroughly, you’ll have to go back to it a few times.
It is amazing how much of a difference it makes to read your writing out loud. You will notice when the flow of the story is off and when the sentence structure is weird, things that you may not catch from just reading it.
Editor’s Note: This post was written by Writestream contributor Kristyn Fetterman. Are you ready to get started on your book? Contact us to set up your free, no-obligation phone consultation. Check out our Publishing Packages for more information about our services.