Editing is such an important part of writing and one that we often skip. I know I have skipped this at times. For blog posts or smaller projects, it is not feasible to hire an editor unless you are making enough money to support that luxury. Most bloggers are a business of one and self-edit their posts and article writing.
There are a few self-editing steps you can do as the first line of defense that will not cost you anything.
1. Read Writing Aloud
This is something I do often, especially with my paid writing projects. Actually, with my freelance writing projects, I use several of these steps. The last thing you want to do is send a client a writing piece filled with spelling and grammar errors. This may feel funny, but your brain can catch things when reading aloud that it overlooks when reading silently in your head.
2. Use Dragon Naturally Speaking or Speech Software
While the software does have editing features, Dragon Naturally Speaking is more of a dictation tool, but it can be helpful if you get tired of typing. The software will set you back about $50.00 on Amazon.
However, if you are a Mac user, Mac OS 10.8X, or Mountain Lion, offers a read aloud tool that will read any text on the screen when you assign a certain key combination. I LOVE this feature.
–Go to: Applications-> System Preferences-> Speech-> Spoken User Interface
–Under “other spoken items,” check “selected text when the key is pressed” and then select a key combination (I use Option+S).
3. Use ProWriting Aid
I use Pro Writing Aid occasionally for longer pieces or articles. It does more than just spell check and basic grammar mistakes. Here are a few additional writing checks the free software will look for:
- Overused words;
- Dull paragraph structure;
- Repeated words and phrases;
- Consistency of spelling, hyphenation, and capitalization;
- Clichés and redundancies;
- Vague, abstract, and complex words from your writing;
- Sentiment, alliteration, and writing time-line.
4. Read Writing Backwards
I have not really used this method, but other writings add it to the self-editing process. Just like reading aloud, the brain will catch writing errors when read in different way. I would love to hear feedback on this method!
5. Have Friend or Family Member Read Your Writing
Sometimes, it is difficult to let someone else critique our writing. For longer or critical pieces of writing, I would recommend this. Find someone who is helpful and offer honest, useful advice. Constructive criticism. This person does not have to be a writer, but should have a firm grasp on spelling and grammar along with a fluency in the native text.
Editing should not be something that you overlook in any piece of writing. For long projects, like books, hire a professional. However, for blog posts and articles, you can apply these self-editing tips. Make it a habit.