As a former reporter, I know the wave of satisfaction which comes from completing content. Another thing off the to-do list, not to mention something that may create so much promise once it’s sent off into the world. However, although that last tap of the period key may conclude your writing, it does not complete the task. Any writer will tell you that editing is as important as getting it on paper in the first place. Here are some time-honored editing tips:
After completing the first paragraph, take an hour and do something else. Put your mind on another objective before you even review one word. This gives your mind a break and allows you to look at the content with new eyes. The time away should be at least one hour and should involve not one thought about the content. If you review any aspect of it in your head, it won’t be a review when you return, just a revisiting that will not bring the right editorial results.
Have Someone Else Read It
When you complete the draft, hand it to someone you trust and ask them to review it for you. I personally do this all of the time; while the above tip gives you fresh eyes, there is nothing better than a new mind attached to those eyes. This also assures that you will take that break. When you hand them the draft, request their brutality; although they have nothing really riding on this content, people always want to be kind.
Bonus Tip: Do not tell them anything other than the title. This way you can interview them on what they believe they read and what they learned from it. The most important part of any content is what it will teach the reader; by interviewing them you will assure both clarity and message.
Read it Out Loud
Carefully review out loud each word you have put down on paper. This is a great step to take after the suggested break because the quality of the review will prosper from your time away. Fresh eyes will not only read it more carefully but will be more probing than ones that just created it. You could even suggest your selected editor to do this.
I know you will be very surprised how well this step works, I know I still am! It still shocks me how much the ear catches what the eye does not. Reading the content out loud assists you in not only assuring editorial quality but also flow. Currently, I am an adjunct professor and I suggest this to all of my students. What sounds good in your head sometimes needs a bit review.
Heather Piedmont is the CEO and Founder of Heather Piedmont Media; an one-stop shop for media content, strategy and relations for independent consultants and businesses of all sizes. A former White House Intern, Piedmont is an expert in media and public relations and strategy. For more information visit her website www.HeatherPiedmont.com.
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