“When I’m writing, I make words my b*tch. But when I’m editing, the words make me their b*tch. It all equals out in the end.”
Richard B. Knight knows that it’s all in the edit.
What you once put down on paper as a good idea will somehow transform into a bad idea. It’s the harsh reality of blogging.
There’s plenty of advice out there when it comes to self-editing. Almost every piece will tell you how much of a pain in the ass it is.
Over the years of editing my own work, I have come up with a process that makes it, as painless as possible.
Yet, it’s still not fun, but it’s a necessary evil.
As Don Roff says:
“The best way to revise your own work is to pretend that somebody else wrote it and then to rip the living shit out of it.”
I love this quote from Don, although I have to admit, I struggle to rip my own work apart as Don does. I tend to become a little attached to the words I poured hours into.
But, there are some things I do to make the editing process a little easier.
Editing Tips For Bloggers
1. Plan Your Time
This is the biggest mistake that I see bloggers make, they don’t schedule the time to edit. In fact, editing becomes an afterthought.
Most of the time they will only think of it when that little red line appears under a word.
You have to give yourself time to edit, it’s not an afterthought it’s the only thought worth anything.
A blog post without an edit is a monster.
Do you want to release an ugly monster upon the world?
Where possible leave time between the writing and the editing of the blog post. This will help you come back at it with a fresh perspective and murderous eyes.
2. Be Ruthless
The more unnecessary words you use, the longer it will take the reader to read.
Which means the chances of them leaving before they get to the impactful part of your blog post are high.
So get them there as soon as possible.
Most people won’t read every word you write, that clever quip will be lost, so delete it.
3. Never Edit As You Go
This is my number one rule when it comes to editing my own work. I never edit as I write. I correct the odd spelling mistake here and there, but by and large, I will avoid the delete button.
The only time you should edit your work as you go is if the word is illegible.
If you think there is a chance that when you come back to it that you won’t know what the word is, then go ahead and fix it.
Otherwise, always forward, never backwards.
4. Scan Your Blog Post
Where are your eyes drawn when we scan the page?
Is this where we want our reader’s attention drawn? If it isn’t then we need to work on the structure and headings. As I’ve said already, most readers will scan a blog post and decide if they want to read it.
Make sure that its scannable and that the main areas draw the eye, with bold headings or images.
Are there too many long and wordy paragraphs? Do we need to cut them down into shorter sentences? Is one of our main points lost in a sea of characters?
Does it need to be out on its own, like this?
5. Stick To One Style
Things like this make a big difference to the look and feel of a blog post. This is where your “Style Guide” comes in.
Also when it comes to headings, are you using <H1> <H2> or <H3> pick one for you main heading and sub-headings and stick with it.
6. First Draft
You have to remember you are writing a first draft, not the final one.
This change in mindset made a huge difference to me. When I started blogging, I was writing to completion.
I would sit down and write until I felt the article was complete, then I’d run it through an editing tool and hit publish.
Once I began to tell myself I was only writing a first draft I stopped editing my own thoughts.
It gave me the permission to write all the nonsense and dribble I wanted as I knew I’d be back to edit it.
This change in mindset allowed me to become freer with my writing and get the first draft out quicker.
Remember, it’s only a first draft, even when it’s published we can make changes, blog posts are not set in stone.
7. Don’t Rely On Spell Check
Ok, so the last article I write was “Top 5 Free Editing Tools For Bloggers“. But, you should never rely on a piece of software to do your editing.
Yes, we can use them as a proofreading aide, but not as an editing aid.
Don’t just assume that because the spell checker has not thrown up any errors that there are no mistakes, trust me, there are!
8. Do It Backwards & Loud
This is one that I know Paul loves. While I have to admit it’s not something I do all the time, it has saved my ass on more than one occasion.
When you’re happy with your edit, read it backwards. The amount of little mistakes this catches if uncanny.
Then read it out loud. This is a great way of not only catching mistakes but making sure that the piece flows. If you stumble while reading, then it needs to be rewritten.
9. Make It Human
This is something I have spoken about before on the blog and it’s still a “must do” editing task as far as I’m concerned.
Far too often we’ll have words like ” I am, we are, you are” instead of “I’m, we’re, you’re”. To make my writing more human I will I’ll go through my article pushing words together. This helps it sound a little less robotic.
I know it may sound a little simple, but you’ll be surprised at how effective it is when it comes to helping your audience connect with you!
The main things to remember when it comes to editing is that you can’t edit a blank page so get out there and create.
But if you are going to make time to create, you had better make time to edit.
What about you? What’s the one thing you always make sure you do when you edit your blog posts?
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