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Insight From An Editor: Tips For Self-Editing

Insight From An Editor: Tips For Self-Editing

Here is a big surprise: writers love writing, but they hate editing. The joy of creating is brought to an end when the repetitive methodologies and tedious grammar rules step on the stage. However, self-editing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As incomprehensible as it may seem, editing is a profession some people enjoy. This is why we decided to provide you with tips from an editor, so you will understand that the real purpose of editing is to make your writing better.

It is surprising that many writers feel like they don’t need to be worried about spelling and grammar, because the clean up is their editor’s job. Let’s clear the air on this once and for all: no, it’s not your editor’s job to worry about your spelling and grammar. It’s yours! Freelance editors may be more forgiving of sentences that seem to have be written by a drunk person, but that doesn’t mean they enjoy repairing (or actually rewriting) something that is not even readable. All editors expect the writers to go through detailed proofreading before they forward their work into the editing phase.

If you are a writer who’s scared of editing, the first thing you should realize is that it isn’t that difficult. With these helpful insights, you will be able to approach it with ease.

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    1. Step back!

    You know how artists step back to see their paintings from a different perspective? The idea is that the artists can’t see the unity of their work unless they step back and change their point of view. This makes a lot of sense when you see it from a writer’s aspect. The first step in your self-editing process is to find a way to see what you have written in a different way.

    While writing, you are pouring your heart into those pages, so it is difficult for you to be objective about your work. This is why you need to take a break before you can start analyzing your work like a reader would. Although it sounds like a difficult thing to do, it’s quite easy in reality: just place the manuscript in a drawer for few days and try to forget about it. A week or even a month would be ideal, but give it at least two days if you can’t allow yourself to wait any longer. That break will allow the reality to set in and allow you to really see your creation.

    If taking time off is something you cannot afford, then you should simply change the viewing format. You have probably been working on a computer, so print your work out or download it onto an eReader. This change will automatically give you a different perspective, so you will be able to see the problematic issues more clearly.

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    2. Look at the big picture first!

    You probably understand editing as correcting the word choice, spell-checking and comma hunting, right? Well, here comes the surprise: you should actually focus on structural editing first. If you start by diving right into the detail work, you will end up with a bigger mess than the one you started correcting.

    During the first stage of editing, you shouldn’t be worried about the misspelled words or wrong usage of commas. There is no point in polishing if the structure of your writing isn’t working as a whole. Take a deep look into the story and find the aspects that need to be restructured.

    Start the self-editing by reading through your piece from an aerial view, and forget about the details – they will be fixed later. At this point, you should think about the narrative sequence, scene transitions, world development, character motivations, and pacing. Is the message of your book clearly coming through? Are the characters well developed? Are the scenes well fitted into the progression of the plot?

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    Approach the manuscript as a reader and trust your instinct. If you feel that something is not working, don’t be afraid to delete some sections, add new ones, or rewrite the ones that seem incomplete.

    self-editing

      3. Forget about your habit words.

      Every writer has this problem – habit words riddle manuscripts like a cancer! Before you forward your manuscript to your editor, make sure you don’t embarrass yourself by using your habit word in every single paragraph. Some of the most common habit words are “so”, “was”, “actually”, “literally”, “that”, and “had”. You may also have a problem repeating a phrase you like. There are enough words in the English vocabulary for you to replace your habit words, so make sure to use them to your advantage. However, you shouldn’t become pretentious about this and use words that no one understands.

      4. The details create the rhythm.

      Remember when we said that you will leave the details for later? Now is the time to focus on them and go through your manuscript line by line, until you are certain that it’s as perfect as your editing skills can make it. Simplify the convoluted phrases, condense wordy parts, fix rocky sentences, fix the grammar mistakes and make sure everything is smooth.

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      Writers have a hard time with this phase of editing because it is monotonous and repetitive, but it gives great results. This doesn’t mean that you are doing your editor’s job, because the editor will repeat this process all over again. However, if you send a mess to your editor, you won’t like the results. This way, you will make sure the writing sounds exactly how you want, so the editor will be in charge of finding the things that are confusing and make sure everything is clear. Two heads are always better than one, so you will make everyone happier (yourself, your editor, and your readers) if you pay attention to these self-editing tips and use them to your advantage.

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      Last Updated on December 2, 2019

      10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

      10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

      Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

      In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

      These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

      1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

      Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

      But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

      Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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      2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

      You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

      The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

      3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

      If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

      Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

      If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

      4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

      Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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      To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

      In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

      5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

      We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

      If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

      Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

      “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

      6. Give for the Joy of Giving

      When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

      One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

      So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

      7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

      Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

      Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

      8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

      When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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      So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

      9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

      Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

      It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

      It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

      10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

      There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

      But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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      Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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      Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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