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The art of self-editing

If you want your editor to love you, turn in clean copy. It is as simple as that. Not only will you win over your editor and they will possibly buy you lunch, but it makes both you and your editor’s lives easier.

Think about it.

The cleaner the copy you turn in as a writer, the less changes you have to make later on. It also allows your editor to turn your copy around quicker. This means you avoid a grumpy, sleep deprived editor at your Monday morning meetings. And everyone wins when the case of the “Mon-daze” is avoided.

So, here are my five tips on how to write clean copy and earn a free lunch from your beloved editor:

  1. Take a Step Back
    After you have finished a new piece of writing, leave it for a few hours before making your first round of edits. This allows you to become unfamiliar with your piece allowing you to read it objectively.
  2. Read Your Writing Forward, Backward and Sideways
    Read your writing over and over again. You obviously can’t read your work sideways but reading it backward disrupts the narrative flow, which helps you catch mistakes you’d normally skim over. Read your writing starting with the last paragraph, working back up to the beginning.
  3. Read it Out LoudScream it if you want but just make sure to not get a noise complaint. Reading your work out loud allows you to keep your brain from automatically correcting mistakes.
  4. Have a Colleague Look it OverThe more eyes on a piece before it reaches your editor, the better. If you have people willing to read your work, take them up on it. There is a good chance that they will catch mistakes that you have been subconsciously skimming over.
  5. PENCIL TAP
    Take the tip of that writing utensil that is going out of style and tap on every single word. This helps slow your brain down so you don’t fill in the blanks when you edit your work. It makes your brain focus on each individual word rather than your brain trying to predict the rest of the sentence. If you follow these five tips, you will be enjoying your favorite pizza place or preferred coffee joint in no time. And all of it will be at the expense of a happy editor.Written by: Dylan Wakefield 

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