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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 February 20, 2019

      13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride

      13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride

      Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

      Why is this so critically important to you?

      The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

      Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

      1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

      Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

      When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

      • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
      • The man facing the judge.
      • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
      • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
      • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
      • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

      These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

      Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

      Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

      2. Accept Your Fear

      Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

      We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

      And here’s what can be done.

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      3. Get Some Perspective

      I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

      And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

      That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

      We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

      So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

      • Are you really at risk?
      • Will this kill you?
      • Which leads us on to..
      • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

      4. Hold a Hand

      As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

      Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

      We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

      Ask yourself:

      • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
      • Could that really happen?
      • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
      • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

      By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

      5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

      This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

      Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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      The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

      It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

      For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

      Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

      6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

      I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

      Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

      Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

      Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

      Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

      Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

      7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

      Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

      I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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      It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

      One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

      Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

      It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

      8. Assume the Worse

      If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

      Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

      • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
      • Think about how they feel about champagne?
      • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

      And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

      When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

      Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

      9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

      If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

      Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

      Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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      10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

      One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

      11. Go with Fear

      When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

      I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

      Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

      One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

      However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

      We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

      12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

      And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

      The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

      What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

      13. Own Your Fear

      Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

      We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

      You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

      More Resources About Fighting Fear

      Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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