Writing begins with an idea and your desire to share that idea. Through your words, your mind and heart bursts onto the page. Your first draft has been conceived. Congratulations.
Now the parenting begins and, as anyone who has done it can tell you, conception is more fun than parenting. As a parent you are responsible for nurturing the little dickens (pun intended) into adulthood. You must teach your offspring manners and that means cleaning them up for public view by eliminating unnecessary or uninteresting verbiage. Editing.
I edit with two questions in mind. First, is my message clear and complete? Second, is it brief? Stated as an editor’s question: Have I deleted everything that is not my message?
Editing is hard work. Most writers love their words. It’s embarrassing to admit but I’ve read several of my blogs a dozen times. I love that Pow! feeling I get when I think I’ve said something as well as I can, in my own unique way. It’s a bit narcissistic but to repeat the old cliché; “If you don’t love you, who will?”
It’s a challenge to put that feeling aside, sharpen the editor’s ax and concentrate exclusively on your reader’s self interests. Writing is about the reader, not you, the writer. Sorry.
Here are five editing tips:
- Stick to one key point. This is especially true when blogging since blogs tend to be short pieces of work.
- Limit adverbs and adjectives. It is easy to fall into the thinking trap that more is better but it’s not. Describing something as “tiny” is better than describing it as “really, really, itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny.”
- Remove qualifiers. Framing your points with “like, some, just, may, sometimes, and often,” undermines the point and your authority. Delete them with malice.
- You bought a thesaurus so use it. Use it to find more precise words, maintain your theme, or to jazz up your writing. I consider it productive when I find a single word to replace several (see item 2 above).
- Work from an outline, it streamlines the writing process and keeps you focused.
However, if you don’t like starting with an outline create one after you’ve finished your draft and use it for editing. Editing with an outline is an excellent way to confirm that your points are logical, connected and sequential – flow.
Writing well is not easy. It requires clear thinking and planning. That plan includes accepting the responsibility to put your love for your readers first and your love for your own words second.
Good luck and enjoy.