So you think you can edit?

Hello colleagues.

Interesting question isn’t it?  I meet many people who think they can edit their own writing but fail miserably.  Why? There are several reasons.  Let’s see if I can help.  Shall we have a go together?

The first challenge is that one should never edit at the same time one writes.   Why? Writing and editing are two vastly different skills.  We cannot serve many masters at the same time.  Instead, simply understand that writing is a multiple step process.  Often, I first outline my work (creating a blue print or plan), then I begin researching my topic or organizing information depending on how much I know about the topic, then I craft my introduction (and subsequently my conclusion), THEN—and ONLY then—do I begin to write the content of the article.  Be sure to review my How to Create Your Writing System Video ; be sure that you have a created a strong writing system.

After I have written a draft, I will spend MANY more iterations or updates of the draft. Why?  A draft is simply what the word implies, a first attempt.  Many authors simply think they can simply sit down and write the first time without very much in the way of correction or edits (because they think they are editing as they write).  Writing takes time.  As a professional editor and peer review editor for several academic journals, I can tell you first hand that many rejections of submission to academic journals are because the writer(s)  failed to invest the time to review their work (and review the specific directions of the journal).

If you are writing for a purpose, such as an assignment for school, submission to a journal, submission to a newspaper or blog; please take the time to review the requirements.  What is the question that requires answering? What is the subject?  If one is writing for school for example, your introduction is actually nearly written for you as part of the assignment directions. If the assignment requires you to write about a, b, and c; then your writing objectives for your introduction must ensure that these topics are included.

Often times, it is several paragraphs before I as the reader (and reviewer) have a clue as to what the writer is writing about.  Hint:  The goal of a writer is never to leave questions in the minds of your reader.   Your introduction is designed to tell your reader exactly what they can expect in the paragraphs that follow.  Don’t make your reader try to hunt for the reason or purpose for your writing.  Instead, be clear, concise, and on point.

Remember, as writers, we are taking our readers on a journey.  Make sure that you invest the time in the clarity of your writing, to ensure that your reader can follow you every step along the way.

Until next time,

Dr. Cheryl Lentz


January 16th, 2015 by admin

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