“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” – Oscar Wilde

Editing, although perhaps a writer’s least favourite stage, is more often than not one of the most important parts of the writing process. If you’re nearing the end of your writing project, check out these five tips on editiing your own work to help you get out of the woods.

Know Your Weaknesses

It can be easy to fall into the natural rhythms of your own writing, especially if you are frequently writing in the same genre. Try keeping a list nearby of the words you know that you overuse, as well as common grammar mistakes or phrases. This can be a worthwhile tool in your writing phase before you even get to the editing part.

When in Doubt Cut It Out

Upon first draft you may feel like you are on to a winning piece, and you’re creative juices are flowing. However, upon second or third glance certain aspects that seemed like a great idea when you first began may not seem so now. In this case trust your instinct and delete what you feel is not quite right.

Take a Breather

Overthinking is an all too natural occurrence when one is editing their own work. Sometimes, stepping away from the screen when you’re getting too caught up in the little details can bring a renewed perspective and can be a welcome break for your creativity to seep back in.

Bring Some Structure

Bringing a little planned editing into your routine may be just what you need to move to the next round of the editing process. Try creating detailed notes after the first read- through and make sure to follow them in the next round of edits. This will ensure you don’t get caught in the rewriting trap and end up somewhere you didn’t mean to go.

Enlist Another Pair of Eyes

It always helps for another trusted perspective to catch things you may not. It might be useful to give your proofreader a list of specific items to look out for, so they don’t spend time on elements or ideas that can’t be changed.

And if you still need some reassurance on your self-editing skills check out what these accomplished authors have to say on the process.

E.B. White on Clarity

“The main thing I try to do is write as clearly as I can. I rewrite a good deal to make it clear.”

Tesla, Sketch of a Turbine. Embellished Manuscripts Collection


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