Writing is the easy part of being a writer. When you aren’t battling with writer’s block, the words flow freely and it can even become difficult to stem the ideas enough to take a break for lunch.
No, it’s not the writing that causes the trouble. It’s the editing.
Let’s take for instance, tidying. By writing, you’re getting everything pretty much where it needs to be. It makes sense to be there, you’ve got it where you like it and the message is clear – this is a tidy house. However, editing is the equivalent of cleaning in preparation for a visit from the parents.
The gloves go on, the bleach comes out and we ensure everything is sparkling.
Effectively, editing is where you fine tune your writing – ensuring there are zero typos, grammatical errors or unclear points.
We’ve all heard Hemingway’s famous quote, “Write drunk; edit sober.” And essentially, this sums up how you should approach the task. Here are our top five editing tips for freelancers.
1. Unleash an ugly draft
Sometimes the most difficult part of writing is that we have the final edit as our vision. This can mean that when the time comes to get started, you try to work with this in mind and create it off the bat. Because you’re worried about creating this perfectly polished piece, you sweat the small stuff – when you should just be focused on getting the main points down.
Your first draft doesn’t need to take into account any editing at all as this comes later. Your first draft isn’t going to be a finished masterpiece, and thinking like that can help you put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and start getting things down, however messy or ridiculous they might seem.
2. Give yourself time
As a freelancer, deadlines can build-up quickly and work has to be sent out efficiently. This can sometimes mean you don’t have time to leave space between writing a piece and editing it, but if it’s possible it’s best to do so.
This is because putting the piece out of your mind and coming back to it will mean you’re in a fresh mind set, able to look more closely for errors. If you go straight from writing to editing, you’re more likely to skim-read and miss out on errors.
3. Definitely do edit
Most freelancing work goes through an editor before it’s published – but this is no reason for you not to edit your own work.
You should take pride in your work and want it to be its best when you send it over for editing, rather than assuming that’s what the editor’s for. If you send your work over once you’ve written it, rather than once you’ve proofread it, then you could jeopardise the relationship you have with the client. If you create more work for them than necessary, they may choose to go with someone else altogether.
4. Source your facts
One of the most important steps of editing is making sure all your facts are correct. One incorrect fact could tear down the whole point you’re trying to make and damage your credibility as a writer. Sure, it will come back on the publication too but they won’t be the ones looking for a new writing job when something doesn’t check out.
Make sure you check, check and check again when it comes to any facts or data you’ve put in. If you haven’t put any in it might be worth including some to back up your point and make your argument stronger.
5. Give it one last look – in the eyes of your target audience
Before you ship it off to become subject to the scrutiny of the editor, take another look. However, instead of reading it as a writer editing their work this time – look at it through the eyes of your audience.
Would they be drawn in by the lead line? Would they value the information you’re providing them, or is it likely they know it already? Take this all into consideration before you hit send.
Got another one? Drop it in the comment section below or get in touch over on Twitter.