Monday, July 20, 2009

Self Editing

Every writer knows the importance of self editing. One technique that I've found helpful came from the keynote speaker of a writer's conference. Roger Palms, former editor of Decision magazine said, “Your ear is your best editor.”

He’s right! When we review our work by reading it out loud, our ears often catch things that our eyes do not. Reading aloud slowly helps us pick through our words more deliberately. It’s a great way to catch awkward or rough spots, or places needing punctuation. It helps us hear how our words are really heard by others, and that’s a great way to make necessary adjustments. It may seem strange to put this into practice, but it really works. I do it all the time, and remind my writing students to try it too. Even reading aloud in a whisper, if one feels really awkward, can reap the same results.

Ever find yourself extremely tired, but facing a deadline, and fairly sure that your eyes will fall out of your head if you read the piece one more time? Reading aloud has been a great help to me in these instances.

What are your self editing techniques? Share them with us, we'd love to hear them!

Happy writing!

Copyright 2009, Karen Lange.


  1. Hi Karen,
    I've been freelancing for two years and have been happy with my success, thus far. Now, due to husband's unemployment, I want to increase my writing productivity. 'Web presence' and 'platform' are new to me and getting my attention. Consequently, here I am post to my first blog ever!
    My self editting tip is this: set Micrsoft Word to underline your 'to be' verbs (or anything else you're in the habit of saying over and over). Then when re-reading your copy, you can see at a glance where you need to work.
    Hope this helps someone.
    Carol Alexander

  2. That's a great tip to share....the kids used to wonder why they heard me mumbling in my office. It's because I was reading my work aloud, very softly.

    Another tip: I also try to leave the piece for a few days and then come back to it and reread it. That seems to help me find rough spots. But that won't work if you're on a short deadline.

  3. Hi Carol,
    Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the comment. What a great tip! I must set my program to do that. Thanks! :)

  4. Hi Barb,

    That's a great tip as well! It's good when you really need a break from a piece too. Sometimes you just about have it memorized and some time and space from it helps a lot. Thanks for stopping by:)


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