If you are a published author or a writer who works in a big magazine or publishing company, the good news is that you have someone to edit your work for you. But if you're just a freelance writer, or working on your first novel or a blogger, then you have no choice but to edit what you've written on your own.
Apparently, editing your own work is not an easy task. You have established a connection with your work and you have a bias on how you've written it since it is your personal work of art. However, editing should not be treated negatively since editing can teach you a lot and help you improve your craft.
Here are 10 tips on how to edit your own work:
1. Don't Edit while Writing. Remember that writing and editing are 2 different processes that need to be done separately. Before you edit, make sure that you're through with your draft. While correcting a few words is okay, deleting a whole paragraph as you go through the writing process is not.
2. Let it rest. It is not advisable to edit your work as soon as you're finished writing. As much as possible, stay away from your work for a few minutes, hours or even days before you start with the editing process. It will be easier for you to work with a fresh mind rather than push yourself to work immediately. Plus, working fresh can help you come up with new ideas and spot errors easily.
3. Change the format. Imagine if you're staring in front of your computer for 10 hours straight. There is a tendency to strain your eyes, making it difficult for you to notice errors. When it comes to editing, change the format - print your work, transfer it in your tablet, email it to yourself or simply change the font and size. You can easily spot mistakes when you read using a different format.
4. Edit in a Different Location. If you've been working in your study the whole day, then choose a different environment when editing. A different arena can make a difference when editing your work.
5. Structure and content first. Editing will be easier if you edit the content first rather than polishing every sentence. Check which sections needs to be eliminated, determine if there is a need for additional information or revise certain portions in your work.
6. Work on the sentences. Now that you've edited your content, it's time to dig into your words and sentences.
7. Reduce your words. When editing, your goal is to reduce your word count by at least 10%. Therefore, remove duplicate ideas, superfluous words, irrelevant phrases and unnecessary adjectives. Your readers will easily notice that you're just after meeting the word count rather than providing them the information they need.
8. Use both your eyes and a spell checker. Writers should not rely too much on spell checkers when it comes to spotting spelling, grammar or typographical errors. Remember, you are way smarter than a spell checker. Spell checkers have the tendency of letting homophones pass (Its vs. It's; Your vs. You're; Which vs. Witch) so use your eyes as well.
9. Read it out loud. By reading it aloud, you can easily notice whether the sentence and the whole work itself makes sense.
10. Just let it go. After going through the process of editing and there's nothing left for you to change then it's time to let it go and submit your work. There's no point in keeping your work for your own use. Trust your abilities and share your work to the world.