News Flash! Rookie writers aren't the only ones who need a good editor. Veteran writers make mistakes, too, becoming so invested in their work that they overlook grammatical errors, holes, or even shortcomings in their writing style during the editing process.
They could edit their own work a dozen times, but that may not be good enough.
So if self-editing is so spotty, who do writers of any experience level feel like they can get away with it? Well for starters, every writer needs to edit their own work – repeatedly. It's a common practice, and there are countless posts out there on the Internet touting self-editing techniques like reading to yourself out loud, using a checklist, and even walking away from your work for an hour or so to refresh yourself for a more critical eye.
That's all well and fine – we could all stand to be better writers AND editors. But I'm a firm believer that, whenever possible, writers should avoid making themselves the last line of defense before going to print.
Step aside and let someone else – a friend, parent, spouse, coworker, experienced editor – give your work a good once-over. It may be that they don't find anything wrong with it. But oftentimes they will, and it could be something incredibly simple.
Here are 4 reasons to self-edit, then get a second opinion:
Writers write, editors edit
Writing and editing are two different processes. Combining the two – being your own writer and editor – is inefficient and a recipe for disaster (sabotage) because it bogs down your creative flow. If you're going to do both, write first and then edit – and then give it to someone you trust for the final edit.
You are too invested
I'm trying not to say that like it's a bad thing. Quality writers should be invested in their work. Whether it's a long feature article or a short blog post, it's still YOUR baby. You have ownership. Bravo! Being so invested can work against us, though. We all need someone to objectively look at our work to point out potential issues. The more attached you are to your piece, the less objective you will be in the editing process.
You've been looking at it for too long
Have you ever spent hours painting a bedroom and your spouse walks in and immediately points out several "spots" where the paint roller didn't quite do its job? How come you didn't see that first? It's because you've been looking at it for too long. Fresh eyes mean a world of difference – especially in writing and editing. An editor, even if it's a friend from down the street, will catch typos, run-on sentences, etc.
You can be perceived as not willing to grow
I fancy myself as a clean writer, but I wouldn't be where I am today without some great editors by my side. I can't tell you how many times the copy desk at the paper I write for has caught errors, or called me to suggest a better way of writing a particular sentence. I want to grow as a writer, so I crave that communication. There are writers out there who are too afraid to have their work criticized, and they won't grow. Their articles will leave something to be desired, their books won't sell as well, and if they are a freelance writer, they will run the risk of losing out on writing opportunities.
Thanks for reading!
*STEVE GAMEL is the Owner/President of Edit This, a writing and editing services company located in Denton, TX. Along with being a sports writer for the Denton Record-Chronicle, Steve handles anything involving the written word. Give him a call today to help give your business a clear voice.