5 Tips for Self-Editing Your Blog Post
Here’s the thing. Most of what you read in magazines, newspapers, and novels involve more than one person. You have the author (that’s me for this piece), and then you have an editor. When I submit content to marketing companies, rarely does it reach it’s landing spot without passing the eyes of an editor. Their job is to cut away excess wordage from my submission for readability and precision.
However, when we maintain our own blogs, we are our own editors – well, most of us. I say this because I’ve read some published posts which could use more of a chainsaw than a scalpel. The point being is, if you’re not editing your work – you should start! Now let’s move on.
I took the liberty to write (and edit) some tips for self-editing your work. The primary goal of editing is to ensure your copy flows with consistency, is accurate, and adds value to the reader.
Editing Tip #1 – Get Away for Awhile
Well, that’s easy right. Just put your hands in the air and leave. Go to a movie or take a long drive. Do anything you want – but don’t work on your post. I leave my work alone for at least a day before final edit unless I’m under a deadline. Then I try to get away from it for a couple of hours. The reason, it’s easier to look at with detachment.
Some writers like to write from title to conclusion without peeking at the screen. Then they go back and clean it up. I like to write a subheader at a time, editing each section until I’m happy. Either way is fine. But when you finish with the project, put it down and move away. When you come back, you can look at it with fresh eyes and a different perspective. You’ll be ready to edit.
Editing Tip #2 – Be Critical
When you come back be brutally honest with your work. I hate going back on my published articles and see errors and ambiguity – especially when I can’t make changes. Read it through and make sure it flows well. Read it out loud to ensure it reads like everyday language and not a textbook.
If the writing struggles to make your point, it’s usually an easy fix with just a few adjustments necessary for clarity.
Correct grammar and punctuation. If you’re not sure of a rule, go online and find out. Don’t put your readers through a tough read. They won’t come back. Some writers, (including myself) use software for grammatical help. Grammarly and Hemmingway are the most popular.
Editing Tip #3 – Ensure Proper Flow
Read your post with empathy for your readers. Edit it for organization and meaning. Any article or blog post should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. This may sound basic but its also important. The intro should give the reader a good idea of what you want to present. The body, a natural progression of information and the conclusion, a brief summary. Make sure they are present even if they’re not labeled such.
Pay close attention to the introduction and the conclusion. The intro should invite the reader in and make them want to know more. Think of a restaurant with a great aroma lingering outside as you get out of the car. The ending is a reward for your reader staying with you. Try to end with a bang or tie into points made earlier to bring it all together. The end should summarize neatly and provide closure.
Replace long, confusing words with ones easy to understand. Shorten sentences which run too long by breaking them up. Make your copy easier to read and less muddled with irrelevant information.
Editing Tip #4 – Editing is More About Subtraction than Addition
When you edit, think more about eliminating unnecessary words and phrases, not about what you can add to the copy. Original drafts typically have more than enough information and wordage to make your point. By cutting away the unnecessary, the text becomes more explicit and concise.
Your draft is a piece of granite, and you’re the sculptor. As the editor, your job is to chip away at every piece which does not contribute to the theme of the post. When I edit correctly, I’ll take a 1000-word draft and reduce it to 750 with ease. And the completed text is cleaner and reads easy.
Editing Tip #5 – Check Your Voice
Although you should learn to write primarily in the active voice, it’s easy to revert to passive. The active voice promotes confidence in your writing. It is crisp and to the point. A practice I use to ensure I’m mostly in the active voice is to enter ‘ed’ in the Microsoft Word search tool. If I find any at the end of a verb, the sentence is in a passive voice and needs restructuring.
Examples of active and passive:
The picture was taken by the photographer.
Too much money is paid to her.
Dinner will be served at 6 o’clock.
When a sentence is in the passive voice, it can become dull and boring. The construction of each sentence has the subject acted upon. The content can easily become confusing and listless.
The photographer took the picture.
She is making too much money.
We’ll eat dinner at 6 o’clock.
These sentences focus on the subject (in bold) performing the action. They are quick, direct and clear on who is doing what.
Put it to Use
Now is the time to test drive and see how it feels. Take a draft and see how much you can shorten it and keep it on point. And remember this – many writers spend more time editing their work than writing the draft. It takes your writing to a new level.