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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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Editing

    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 July 8, 2020

      18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

      18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

      The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

      1. Understand Yourself Better

      Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

      Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

      2. Keep Track of Small Changes

      I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

      Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

      3. Become Aware of What Matters

      As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

      You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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      4. Boost Creativity

      The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

      When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

      You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

      5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

      A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

      Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

      6. Process Life Experiences

      When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

      Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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      7. Stress Relief

      In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

      Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

      8. Provide Direction

      Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

      One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

      9. Solve Problems

      Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

      Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

      When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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      10. Find Relief From Fighting

      Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

      Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

      11. Find Meaning in Life

      Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

      12. Allow Yourself to Focus

      Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

      13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

      When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

      14. Let the Past Go

      I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

      15. Allow Freedom

      Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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      16. Enhance Your Career

      Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

      Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

      17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

      All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

      18. Catalog Your Life for Others

      No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

      We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

      Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

      Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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