It took 2,950 rounds of edits before Avengers: Infinity War was screen ready. This included cutting down 900 hours of footage to size down the film to 2 hours, 40 minutes.
Editing your articles is much the same.
While it certainly doesn’t take as long, it sure does take a good chunk of your focus, time, and efforts.
But all good things require that, don’t they?
Heck, it took me a while to master how to make the cutest puppy eyes to trick my sister into giving me her last nugget.
Good news – editing is not only necessary, but worth it.
Without it, your piece is either too much of something or not enough.
For me, editing is an entire process, not just a part of writing, which is why I’m eager to talk about it. In today’s post, I’m going to discuss my process of editing and how you can replicate it as well.
Before we dig into the meat of the topic – how to edit your writing – we’ll first visit how editing works.
Let’s start – what it means to edit content like a ninja
Editing your writing is a skill just as writing itself is.
When we’re talking about how to edit your writing, it isn’t just skim-reading your piece at the eleventh hour for correcting spellings, grammar, and punctuation. Editing an article also covers:
- Chopping off fluff
- Rewording boring lines
- Ensuring the piece flows
- Formatting it for readability
- Making certain the voice is right
- Maintaining clarity, and more
If you’re questioning how to edit your writing then your answer is this – take your piece, beat it like a bowl of eggs, add, subtract, and be your content’s worst critic. Only then will you get the best version of the very first draft.
Moving on – how to edit your writing
To write great, impactful content you have to edit quite a few times. This means having final, final-01, and final-final word files in your documents. And sometimes even more.
Ready to edit your articles like a pro? Here’s your guide:
Round 1 – Proofread your piece thoroughly
Proofreading is essential to make sure you don’t have any obvious mistakes lurking around. You dont want to miss the apostrophe in your don’t, do you?
Read with your eyes peeled for errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Along with it, format your piece for readability. This will make rereading easier as well.
To make your piece easy to read: add heading tags, subheading tags, use bullet points, and break text into shorter paragraphs and sentences.
Along the way, cut out fluff. And replace difficult words with easier ones. For instance, instead of using redundant, use unnecessary.
One more thing you should do in the first round of editing – replace adverbs and words with very and really with other words.
To briefly recap, adverbs are words that end with ‘ly.’ So, for an example, you can replace ‘run quickly’ with ‘sprint.’ In the same way, use ‘difficult’ in place of ‘very hard.’
Also, get rid of any words that seem extra and replace negative phrases. Get rid of ‘that’ if its unneeded, and switch ‘in order to’ with ‘to.’
Lastly – make sure your bullet points are consistent in how they start and align with the line above them. This enables smoothness in reading.
- Correct grammar and punctuation
- Get rid of fluff
- Replace difficult and negative words
- Replace or cut out extra words
- Format your article
- Ensure your bullet points are consistent
Round 2 – Run your article through editing tools
You might be thinking editing tools wouldn’t require much time and attention to detail.
After all, if a software is doing the job, it should be quick, no? Not always.
These tools can give incorrect recommendations, which is why you need to be alert. You don’t have to follow all the suggestions made.
Two popular applications for editing are Grammarly and the Hemingway Editor. Both give you a score for how crisp your article looks once edited.
Though alike in what they do for you, Grammarly is more focused on correcting grammar while the Hemingway Editor makes written work more readable.
You can try the free versions or get the premium plans.
Just remember – an app is not enough. It can just be a part of your editing process.
Round 3 – Reread and tighten your content further
When you reread this time around, do so with a fresh pair of eyes. You can let the piece rest for a day and reopen it later.
This time make a list of your weaknesses or areas in which the particular blog post may require correction.
For instance, you may be in doubt about the flow of the piece. Or you might be worried it is not conversational enough or is too conversational.
Jot down a list of these areas which require more focus and then reread with those pointers in mind.
Mend other mistakes on your way that you might have missed. Don’t forget to give special attention to your introduction and conclusion. Make sure your introduction is not dragged, gives insight into what the topic covers, and has a hook to encourage folks to read. The conclusion should properly wrap up your piece and can also include a call to action.
Don’t forget to check the flow of your headings as well. Lastly, make sure the title is short, understandable, and has a power word.
- Reread with your weaknesses in mind
- Correct missed mistakes along the way
- Recheck the introduction and conclusion
- Make certain the headings are in flow
- Ensure the title is on point
Round 4 – Meet the site’s voice
No, I’m not saying that this is the phase of your writing in which you revisit your site and see if your voice aligns with that of your brand.
That should be one of the first steps when you start with the article’s outline or are writing the drafts.
During editing, this is the step where you recheck to see if there’s any place where you veered away from your brand’s voice.
If you use screenshots, be sure to add them in this piece as well. If curse words are not part of the language you use, cut them out in case you added them unintentionally. Likewise, stick with your style guide.
At this stage, also recheck references and analogies. Your audience is not Captain America, but real people who should get your references. Use only those that your target audience is likely to understand.
Round 5 – Edit one last time
You might be all bored with editing by now, but there’s one last thing left to do. By missing this last step, your entire piece can be worth less than what it could be.
In round 5 of editing, you don’t necessarily have to go out of breath rereading your blog post. Just look at the piece and scan everything.
Your job? To make sure you’ve linked to the right sources, formatted the article nicely, and used all the keywords in all the bright places (sorry, I watched the movie last night and couldn’t help it).
Make sure you’ve not missed any essential SEO steps and given credits where due.
Don’t save and close just yet – reread your subheadings before you do. Make sure they are not boring or unclear. Make them humorous or perhaps just conversational.
If you’re keen, reread the areas you had doubts about during your early editing stages.
Once you’re done with this step, you can breathe a sigh of relief.
- Recheck all the links
- Give another look to formatting
- Reread your subheadings only
- Reread parts you weren’t sure about
- Make sure your article is SEO-friendly (if needed)
- Make sure you’ve followed your style guide to a T
Before the end – tips for editing blog posts
Now that we’ve talked about why and how to edit your writing, let’s move forward to editing tips before we wrap this post up. Hopefully, these will help you edit better. Here goes:
1 – Read out loud or ask your computer to do so
This helps you in three ways:
- Mistakes/typos come forward like guilty children getting caught
- You’re able to spot breaks in flow
- And you can see if you’re being conversational enough
I prefer reading out loud to asking my computer to do so because I prefer my natural voice over a computerized narrator’s.
2 – Forget about your piece
Once you’ve edited some and are getting bored with the process, let it be. Go get some ice-cream, lie down on a bed of hay with your horses in the background or do whatever you want to. The goal is to forget about your piece for a while.
If your deadline is just around the corner, get back after some time in an alternate universe. If your deadline isn’t until a few days later, get back to editing a day after.
The point is, your mind should be fresh to get the job done. When you look at the same piece again and again you’re more likely to miss mistakes. Your eyes need rest before they can refocus on the piece again properly.
3 – Chop, chop, chop
Ever seen a butcher at work? Mimic that guy. Hold your knife and let your content be the meat. Cut down unnecessary lines even if they make you sound like Paulo Coelho. What doesn’t fit, doesn’t belong.
What? You used the word ‘capricious’ in your piece because it sounds fancy on your tongue? You might have to cut that out buddy, to keep things simple. Sorry.
4 – Seek criticism
Ever seen someone head toward criticism like a bull? You may need to do that. If you doubt your editing skills and want the best for your piece, ask a writer or editor friend to help you out.
Hire an editor if you can. Go to someone you trust the editing skills of. Just be ready to get criticized for the sake of a perfectly edited piece.
5 – Expect change
After all that ruthless processes of cutting, simplifying, adding, and more, the result is bound to come out very different than what it was pre-editing.
While editing can be hurtful at time, the change in your content at the end is likely to be positive. You’ll find your blog post a lot clearer, more authoritative, and better sounding.
Summing up, like true love, perfect content that doesn’t require editing is an illusion. So, sharpen your editing skills, and get to work. Read your piece once and then thrice more to ensure the end product is crispier than corn flour coated fries.
Did this stuff just go over your head? Hire me to do the job.