Editing – Making You and Your Writing Look Better

By: Rick Lauber – Author of Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians and The Successful Caregiver’s Guide

So, you have written a stellar story and it’s now ready for publication, right? Perhaps, but your work first requires editing. Editing can greatly enhance your writing; however, it isn’t always easy. There are a number of tricks to editing – here are a few tips:

Take some time away before beginning editing. By allowing a day or more after you complete writing and begin editing, you can better guarantee having “fresh eyes” – and a fresh perspective – to devote to the latter project. 

Read your work out loud while editing.  Work backwards through your work. Block off one line of copy at a time using a ruler. Change up your font, size of font, and/or font/paper colour. These ideas can help you slow down your reading and better catch any mistakes.

Consider the format. Can you edit more effectively reading from your desktop computer, your laptop, or from printed pages? 

Ask somebody else to edit. Find a critic, rather than a supporter of your writing. When writing my books, Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians and The Successful Caregiver’s Guide, I worked closely with my book publisher’s editor and implemented all of her suggestions to fill in some holes and improve what I had written.

Write first, edit later. Your first task is to write … editing along the way will only slow you down.

Be wary of spellcheck. While somewhat handy to pick up misspelled words, this tool will not recognize improper usages of homonyms, omitted punctuation, and/or typos.

Consider your environment. Editing requires your utmost attention. You will need a distraction-free time and place to edit. Stay off Facebook! You may prefer to edit in a quiet coffee shop rather than at home to avoid interruptions.

Remember your audience. Who are you writing for? Canadian and American readers for example use different spellings of many words. Canadians will spell “favour” while Americans will spell “favor”.

Follow your style guide. If you have been supplied a style guide or writer’s guidelines, follow these to the letter. This is what your client wants and expects. Be attentive to desired word count. Write and supply a bit more, if you wish, but don’t provide less than what is expected (it’s easier for an editor to chop words than to add them).

Set a False Deadline. Waiting until the last minute to complete your editing project may lead to regrets. By setting (and sticking to) a false deadline before the job is required, you (and your client) may be breathing easier if anything unexpected occurs. And don’t wait until the eleventh hour before your false deadline to start your editing!

Accept your own limitations. Editing can be taxing work requiring intense mental concentration. Limit your editing to several hours per day. Pay attention to your physical restrictions and edit ergonomically. Sit in a comfortable, supportive, and well-placed chair and break away from your editing to walk around for a few minutes each hour.

Rick Lauber is the author of Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians and The Successful Caregiver’s Guide (both published by Self-Counsel Press). He has also seen two of his contributed stories accepted and published by Chicken Soup for the Soul and is an established freelance writer. Check out www.ricklauber.com and https://twitter.com/cdncaregiver.


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