The Pain and Errors of Self-Editing

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The worst possible thing a writer can do is to edit their work as they go. Editing your work after it’s done is acceptable, although someone else should always do the editing. It’s very uncommon for a writer to possess both the creative talent of a writer, and the essentialist craft of an editor.

When you write, it’s important to focus on only that. Just write. Let your creative process flow and go where your mind takes it. As soon as you try to be logical and cut out a bit here or fix that sentence there, your creative flow is broken. Edit later.

When it finally comes to the editing its very common for writers to read their own work fast, as if taking it in slowly will reveal all the negative self views that they have about their work. Take it in slowly or you will miss many spelling mistakes and sentence issues. You will miss them anyway, so here are a few tips to catching all the spelling errors and problems.

Print your work. Then read it through on a piece of paper, using a pen to point to the word your on and going through it line by line. This way you will be able to scour through the work and notice any problems that stand out. It’s a good idea to leave it for a few days before doing this so you forget what you wrote and you are seeing it with fresh eyes.

Another tip is to read it backwards. This may take a long time but because the comprehension won’t make any sense, you will notice the obvious spelling errors. The absolutely best way to check for mistakes however, is to give your work to someone much more skilled in the area of editing.

Personally, I prefer reading it allowed as if I was presenting it to an audience. This isn’t the first time you have read this advice here. It works for me. As always… “different strokes for different folks” try  the techniques described here, and adopt the methods that work best for you.

Editing is an art form, and not to be taken lightly. You may have a skill in writing, or you may be a skilled editor. It’s usually never both. So hand off your work to a skilled editor if possible, or let your family or friends edit the work if they can.

A fresh pair of eyes on your work will always give new insight that you wouldn’t have thought of. If you cant find an editor, you can’t afford one and you have no other options but yourself, then make your work as unfamiliar as possible so its like it’s someone else’s. Change the font, the color and the size of the text. Print it out and edit it by hand, and go through it backwards sentence-by-sentence and then word-by-word.

Image by olly2 – laptop

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About Al Bargen (89 Articles)
Al is known as the Fit Martial Writer. He's the operations manager at and is also a fat loss and martial arts coach.

1 Comment on The Pain and Errors of Self-Editing

  1. Interesting thoughts! I used to edit throughout the writing process. I definitely don’t do it now, because as you said, it just destroys my creative flow. But that phase was indispensable. My novel would’ve never been finished (or at least not well) if I hadn’t done so many stupid rewrites at the beginning. I think smaller projects, like essays, articles, etc. should go without much editing until you’ve got the whole draft in front of you, but 80k+ novels take a more methodical approach.

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