Self-editing can be difficult. It can be tough to objectively go through your writing and find its weaknesses. To successfully self-edit you must eliminate your crutches and bad habits, prioritize clarity and readability, get help from a friend, and remember to go easy on yourself. Editing, especially self-editing, can be stressful and that’s not good for your wellness. Use these techniques to successfully self-edit while keeping your stress levels low.
Eliminate crutches and bad habits
It’s easy to accumulate a few bad writing habits, but it’s important that you identify and correct them, especially when self-editing. Let’s go over some common bad writing habits. One thing to watch out for is commonly misused words, such as nonplussed and bemused. Try to use these kinds of words as little as possible. Even if you know how to use them correctly, there’s a good chance your reader does not and may think you are misusing them. In a similar vein, be very cautious when using metaphors. So many of them are overused and cliche enough that they will take away from the point your making. Metaphors are also commonly misused and mixed up so minimize their use and implement them carefully or you will appear amateurish. Try and track your crutches and bad habits so that you can eliminate them from your writing. Doing this will make your editing easier and less stressful in the future.
Write with clarity and aim for readability
One of your main priorities should be to write clearly and concisely. It’s tempting to bust out the thesaurus and jam your sentences full of complicated words, but resist giving in. “Write with your audience’s understanding in mind. Your goal is communication, not to show off your intelligence and vocabulary. Even when you are tackling a complex subject your goal should be to explain it simply,” recommends Jeff Stewart, writer at Assignment Help. A lot of the time when we talk about readability we are talking about the difference between Latinate and Germanic words. Using Latinate words can make your writing piece sound academic or clinical, so unless that is your goal, try to minimize the amount you use. An example is the Latinate word consume versus the Germanic word eat. The latter is a good deal more approachable and sounds like something you would commonly hear, while the former sounds like something out of a research paper.
Use a partner
It really helps to get a fresh pair of eyes when editing. Have a friend look over your work; it is guaranteed they will spot things you have missed. You want your writing to be easily readable without the reasons and explanations you have in your head. You won’t be there to explain your reasoning to the reader, so you want to have someone else read your work to find these sections that need explaining, and rewrite them with better clarity.
Proofreading and editing matter
Here are some resources to help you with your editing process:
#4) Cite It In: Use these helpful resource to make sure you are using citations correctly.
Go easy on yourself
Self-editing will require that you focus on your deficits and short-comings, but don’t let it stress you out. Just try to see this process as a way to improve your craft and remember to keep in mind all the positive things you did with the piece. Even the best writers make mistakes, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember to watch out for bad habits you have accumulated, aim for clarity and readability, and use an editing partner. Follow these techniques to successfully self-edit while minimizing stress.
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