5 self-editing tips and tools to improve your writing
Deep down, even the best word smiths know that their first draft is a raw material that must be refined and refined in order to complete the writing process and become the best piece possible.
Nevertheless, they often find it difficult to edit their texts. This is because the processing is an independent craft with different methods. Fortunately, you can improve your self-processing skills.
In this article, we’re going to break down some editing processes that will help you improve your writing.
Important areas to focus on as you read your first draft
If you cannot rely on an editor’s expertise, there are some critical areas that you can focus on in order to improve your writing and become a more effective autonomous content producer.
1. Grammar and punctuation
The first step in doing it yourself is to read through your first draft a few times and make sure you haven’t made any spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors.
Grammar gives structure to sentences. This is how you arrange words in your sentences or paragraphs to give meaning. There are many grammar rules, including homophones (it-is-it, they-are-you, here-listen), verb forms, or subject-object-verb order, to name a few.
You also need to pay attention to punctuation when editing yourself. It is important to learn when to use common punctuation marks such as commas, periods, and question marks as they add clarity to your sentences.
Noise words are unnecessary or redundant words that are used to fill spaces in a sentence without adding meaning. Some examples of filler words are basically just, well, you know, and to name a few.
When editing yourself, it is important to watch out for words / phrases that do not improve your writing as they often distract from the message you are trying to get across.
For example: “I was just wondering if you could actually help me with my homework” vs. “Could you please help me with my homework?”. The second question implies that the action is urgent and requires an immediate response.
3. Complex words
The next step in self-editing is making sure you are using words that your readers understand. You are trying to get a message across, not impress your audience.
If there are simpler alternatives, don’t over-complicate your writing by filling each sentence with fancy words, as this can “mess up” your audience.
4. Repeated words
Another area to look out for in self-editing is the multiple use of words within the same sentence or paragraph. If you vary the choice of words in your sentences, it will become more interesting and engaging.
For example: “I want to talk about the importance of doing your work yourself. Self-editing is important because it helps you improve your writing and gain confidence in what you are saying. “
Try deleting repeated words or replacing them with stronger ones that will make a more convincing argument.
5. Passive voice
Finally, you should also pay attention to the use of the passive voice. Passive is when the subject of a sentence receives the action instead of performing it. Sentences written in the active are more direct, precise and engaging than those in the passive because they focus on who is doing an action.
Passive voice makes your writing ambiguous and vague. For example:
- The meeting was postponed because no one showed up on time. (Passive voice)
- The manager postponed the meeting because no one showed up on time. (Active voice)
Now that you are better able to think like an editor, here are some practical tips to help you improve your writing.
How to edit your letter
1. Read it out loud
One of the biggest challenges with self-editing is missing out on writing mistakes because you are seeing what you wanted to write instead of what you wrote. Your mind quickly fills in the blanks and ignores proofreading mistakes.
You can overcome this challenge by taking a break after writing to have a new perspective. Then read your draft aloud. If possible, find someone to listen to you read, even if it’s your dog, or record yourself. Reading to an audience increases the stakes and you can take it more seriously.
2. Print it out
You can take an extra step towards a more polished piece by printing out your writing. You can use a highlighter as you read to underline mistakes on your paper.
In addition, you can also print it in different fonts and edit your piece in a different location for a new perspective. By changing the medium, you can see what you wrote differently.
3. Drop clichés
Clichés are phrases that have been overused and have lost their originality. Creative and original writing will captivate your readers. On the other hand, using boring phrases will dilute your content.
Examples of clichés are “at the speed of light”, “a drop in the bucket”, “avoid like the plague”, to name a few.
4. The ten percent rule
Writing is a creative process that often involves getting all of your thoughts down on paper before you forget them. Self-editing allows you to rearrange these sentences and remove unnecessary details. This is where Stephen King’s 10% rule from his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft can be of great use.
This means that after you’ve written your first draft, you should try to erase 10% of it while you edit it yourself. So if you write a 1000 word article, you make 900 by removing unnecessary parts.
5. Separate your editing tasks
If the thought of editing your text is intimidating, you can break it down into smaller and more manageable steps. For example, you can focus on the flow of your ideas the first time you read through. You can further break down your editing task using the checklist above – use your second review for grammar and punctuation corrections, etc.
As you get closer to improving your writing, there are some editing resources that you can use to ease your burden and further clean up your draft.
Grammarly is one of the most effective online editing review tools. You can use it to refine your design by checking for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. The premium version offers detailed typing suggestions, plagiarism and passive speech recognition.
2. The Hemingway app
The Hemingway app is a writing and editing tool that can help you improve your writing by highlighting adverbs, the passive voice, confusing sentence constructions, and other common mistakes.
You can use writing mode for a distraction-free experience or switch to edit mode to highlight and correct the mistakes in your writing and make it easier to read.
If you’re looking for an alternative to a word that feels a little played out, synonym.com is your new best friend. This website makes it easy to find a synonym for any word so you can keep your texts fresh and engaging.
With synonym.com by your side, you’ll have a comprehensive list of synonyms that are easy to search for and help you get your point across with ease.
4. Johnny Grammars Word Challenge
We all know grammar and spelling can be a little tricky at times, but your writing doesn’t have to suffer! Johnny Grammars Word Challenge is an effective study tool for anyone who needs help mastering general vocabulary, spelling, and grammar in the English language.
5. Word tune
Wordtune is an AI-powered tool that helps you put your thoughts into words more convincingly and clearly. All you have to do is copy and paste your content into the Wordtune editor, highlight the text you want to improve, and get suggestions accordingly. It can also help you choose the right tone based on your audience.
Take your writing to the next level
Writing is a skill that takes practice and time to master. However, one way to improve your writing skills is to edit yourself. This means that you should check your content with a critical eye and make sure everything is up to date before posting anything.
You can also use the tools mentioned above to further refine your writing.
Do you want to write content that engages and occupies readers? Check Out These Helpful Tools!
About the author