5 Quick Self-Editing Tips

Have you ever read something you wrote and wondered, “What was I thinking?? Did I really think that sounded good?”

For me, late-night sessions, tight deadlines and too much caffeine create a bad combination that leads to sloppy, meandering writing.

The truth is, bad copy happens to even the best writers at some point. The goal is to catch that less-than-stellar writing before it’s published.

Prior to clicking on “send” or “publish,” set your article or manuscript aside. Wait a day or two (at a minimum) so you can read it with fresh eyes.

When you self-edit your work, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Watch for repetition.  Avoid using the same word twice in a sentence or paragraph.
  2. Avoid starting sentences with this or that. Words like this, these, and that can be ambiguous and cause confusion for the reader.
  3. Avoid starting sentences with the word there. Rework the sentence to make it more powerful and interesting.
  4. Limit “to be” verbs to a minimum. Am, is, are, was, were, be, been and being may be impossible to eliminate entirely, but your writing will be stronger without them.
  5. Use complete, well-ordered sentences. We speak differently than we read and write. If you wrote using a transcription, some thoughts may be incomplete or circuitous.

What is your go-to editing tip? Share your advice in the comments below.

Happy writing!


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