Alice Elliott
April 18, 2017

How Careful Editing Can Improve The Quality Of Your Writing

careful editing

Congratulations, you’ve finished writing your perfect post! This will be especially so if you’ve been following the previous six posts in this series (see the links to the previous articles at the end of this post).

However, before you rush in and immediately publish it, there’s still some work to be done. You may be immensely proud of your post, but I’m sure it could be improved by some careful editing.

And just like some cook books that irritatingly say you should have marinated your chicken yesterday, there are some tasks that you should have done before you even started writing!

This Infographic will explain everything:

Editing aftermath

Have you planned your post?

The majority of bloggers write their posts without any sort of plan in place. I know, I’m just the same! But if you and I bothered to do one before we started, we would probably find the process that much easier.

I’m presuming you know what subject you’re writing about (though surprisingly it seems that some posts are unable to show this). If not, some suitable brainstorming in advance will not only give you a good topic, but also a series of posts for the future.

And remember to properly research your chosen writing focus. This will contribute to both quantity and quality, of which your readers will expect nothing less.

Every blog post benefits from a structure to provide a familiar journey for your readers.Click To Tweet

Have you got a structure?

It’s a good idea for your writing to have a beginning, middle and end. And usually this is the correct order (unless you’re writing a modern best-seller). Your readers will benefit from a familiar journey through your post.

Focus on creating a structure for your post. Write down bullet points of the areas you’re going to cover, so that you don’t miss anything out once you start writing. This will also show up any gaps that may need to be filled with extra research, if necessary.

Now’s the time to start practicing writing your headline. This is a vitally important element of your post, so should not be glibly concocted within seconds, left to chance, or added in as an afterthought. Some eminent bloggers spend much more time on their headlines than on the main content.

Give yourself a break

There is much to be said for sleeping on the decision of whether to publish your post or not. This is very similar to writing a comment in anger. Taking such a drastic response demands time out before making that final commitment.

Leave your post for a period of time, preferably overnight, but 24 hours is good (if you can manage it). Time away allows your brain to subconsciously work on your post. So when you come back to it, all the areas that require careful editing will suddenly pop out at you!

Because you are constantly looking at your writing, you won’t see the mistakes. Give your brain a break from your post, and the process of careful editing will become that much easier.

Time away from your post allows your brain to subconsciously edit what you have written.Click To Tweet

Avoid editing while you write

As I have said in my other post in this series, blogging should be written in a conversational style. You need to consider your post as a translation of you talking with your readers.

However, when you speak, you aren’t constantly editing what you are saying. And this is exactly how you should write your first draft. Just keep on writing what comes into your head, as if you were having a conversation with your ideal reader.

It’s all about keeping developing a flowing writing style. Don’t worry about any mistakes, the idea is just to get the meaning down. Constant stopping to correct yourself will hinder your train of thought, resulting in something fantastic being forgotten.

How well does it read?

Because your post is meant to be a conversation with your ideal reader, you can test how effective this is by reading your post out loud.

Reading what you’ve written will instantly show up any inconsistencies, anomalies in your sentence construction or grammatical mistakes that your ‘reading brain’ cannot see.

Also if you find your teeth are getting in the way (something that often happens to me), it’s probably too complicated. Try rephrasing it out loud there and then, and that will be the right way to edit it. This is also true for sentences that have too many clauses and need to be split up into something shorter.

Reading your post out loud reveals any editable mistakes your 'reading brain' cannot see.Click To Tweet

Does it make sense?

While you are reading your post aloud to yourself, ask yourself whether it make sense. Is the point you’re making instantly understandable? Would all your readers be able to cope with what you are trying to say?

This is particularly poignant for your post’s first paragraph where you introduce the subject. Is the topic immediately mentioned? Otherwise time-poor readers won’t be able to make an immediate decision whether this is the right post for them.

Make sure everything you want to say is included, and that you successfully get your message across. Decide whether this post is worthy of being read, and whether it would satisfy any reader who came across it.

Anything to add?

Have you managed to include everything you want to say? Is your post sufficiently long or concise enough? Does it contain all the necessary information that makes it worthy of being read?

The idea of reading your post, whether in your head or out loud, is to highlight areas that are missing or gaps that need to be filled. Part of careful editing is to make sure everything is covered or sufficiently explained.

Blogging gurus say that for a post to be successful with the search engines, it needs to be between 1000-2000 words. But if you want to be successful with your readers, your post needs to contains as much valuable information as possible, regardless of its length.

Careful editing

Anything to take away?

However, in spite of having been told successful posts require a certain minimum length, it is important to consider your readers. They will not want to read a waffling, rambling post that contains little substance.

So do some careful editing to make your writing succinct and concise. This will improve it no end. Another old saying “less is more” is certainly the case here. Avoid writing just for writing sake.

An extremely readable post will have the happy medium of being both full of interest, yet tight in construction. Your writing should be exciting to read, not a chore to finish.

Avoid writing for writing sake. Careful editing results in satisfactorily concise blog posts.Click To Tweet

Which words have you used?

Conversations use different words than formal writing, and also in frequency and positioning. Therefore blogging, which is essentially conversing with your readers, will become easier if you consider which words to use.

Appropriate research on your ideal reader will have enabled you to know their reading preferences, what words they normally use, and their level of understanding.

So another area of careful editing is to see if any difficult vocabulary could be dumbed-down (for the want of a better expression). If you aren’t using a particular fancy word in your own conversations, ideally it shouldn’t be present in your posts.

Now focus on spelling and grammar

OK, having considered everything I have said in this post, now you can get to grips with the technical side of careful editing: spelling, grammar, sentence syntax, etc.

Of course there are various apps and websites to help you with this, such as Grammarly. But I don’t rely on these, because I read widely as a child and, even though I had dyslexia, I took careful note of correct punctuation, sentence construction and all that sort of thing. I used to enjoy editing my books with a red pen – how sad is that!

The process of reading quality literature means you are able to learn how the written word should be presented on the page. And there are other books that can help you, such as Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss, which is an amazingly funny read, while at the same time getting a very important message across. Enjoy!

Over to you

Now it’s your turn. Let me know your successes and failures of careful editing in the comments below. I’m sure you have plenty to say on this subject! And if you want to read the other posts in this series, you have 2 choices:

To see all 7 parts in one article, visit the parent post to find them.

To read each article separately (or one or two specifically), click on any of the below:

Part 1: “How An Awesome Headline Can Make a Big Difference to Your Post

2: “How A Blog Post Introduction Can Make Your Readers Stay

3: “How To Use Images Effectively To Attract Readers To Your Post

4: “How Having A Positive Purpose Can Influence Your Blog Writing

5: “How Suitable Content Contributes Towards A More Readable Post

6: “How A Focused Call To Action Leads To Greater Interaction

 

Additional image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/68457656@N00/2349632625/

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If you are a beginner blogger who is looking for someone to "explain things really simply" about blogs and WordPress, then go ask Alice Elliott! Her award winning blog Fairy Blog Mother explains blogging using ordinary, everyday words. And take part in her 90 Days Challenge to Commenting Mastery to get more readers and traffic!