How to Edit Your Own Writing – 5 Habits of Successful Business Writers
Writing well is a skill that many of us need at work and in other areas of life. Written documents, emails, blogs and websites form a large proportion of our communications. We rely on them to speak to our customers, colleagues and other contacts. Poor writing looks unprofessional, reduces your credibility and can cost you business. That is why editing is so important
Writing as though you were discussing the issue face-to-face with someone can be relatively easy. But a large part of creating a written document that gets you the results you need, is in the editing. Well edited writing conveys your message, holds your readers’ attention, is concise and easy to follow.
Here are 5 habits that many writers use when editing their work:
1. Use a Different Format for Successful Editing
Some writers find it easier to write by hand initially before creating an electronic document. Others can type directly into their word-processing software. Whichever method you find easier, write down everything you need to say. After proofreading for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and typos, try producing your work in another format. If you’ve handwritten it, type it and print it out, if you’ve typed it, try writing it out. This simple process allows you to pick up on mistakes you may have otherwise missed.
2. Editing the structure
Are all your sentences the same length? If so, mix them up a bit. Sentences and paragraphs that differ in length make writing more interesting to read. See? It works!
3. Change the Timeline
The traditional way to create a piece of writing is for it to have a clear beginning (introduction), a middle and an end (conclusion). Sometimes, changing that well-known timeline template around can add an element of intrigue. If you start your writing with the conclusion, it gives your reader the result and then encourages them to read on to find out how you accomplished that outcome. Obviously, this method doesn’t work in all cases. But try changing your paragraphs around and see how it affects the flow and feel of your work.
4. Have a Break
Once you’ve completed your writing, let it rest for a few hours, or days if you have the time. Take a break from it. Often, you’ll think of better ways of saying things, information you can add, or ways to improve the readability.
Always read your writing out loud and, if possible, have someone else do the same whilst you listen. You can hear how your writing sounds and pick up on words that you’ve used too frequently or areas that just don’t flow smoothly.
5. Stop Going On and On and On and On
Finally, cut the waffle. Say little more than is essential. Readers dislike having to wade through lines of copy to find the details they’re looking for. Whilst you may think they’ll enjoy your humorous anecdotes, most people just want the information they need and consider anything else tedious or even annoying!
Be ruthless. Cut out anything that is extraneous and just get to the point! And perhaps take a look at our Professional Business Writing course too!!
If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy those below…