How to Use 5 Steps to Edit Effectively and Quickly

Editing polishes writing into something others want to read. On average it should take as long to edit a post as it does to write it.

I am a firm believer in letting posts sit for a day before I give a final edit and publish, you may feel differently. There have been a few posts that I have written, edited and published in all in one sitting. These tend to be the more personal posts, that I am afraid I will lose my nerve to publish if I leave them.

When to Hire a Professional

Editing for many writers is the most difficult part of writing. My advice to writers publishing a large piece of work, such as a novel, is to hire a professional editor.

Months of working on one piece can do strange things to your mind. Words you read are what you think should be there, not what is there. Hiring a second person helps overcome this. It may cost a little extra, but the gain in the long term, with increased sales, makes it worth it.

I edited my first children’s book and there are mistakes. I should have hired an editor, but funds were tight. For my second novel, I have learnt from my mistakes. I will be hiring a professional.

To hire an editor for every post you write, would be slow and expensive. For blogging, we need to rely on our skills. Here is a quick process you can use to minimise mistakes and maximise productivity.

5 Steps to Edit Effectively and Quickly

Re-Read Your Post Out Loud

The first process is reading back through your original draft. Do this out loud. The process of hearing the words spoken will pick up more mistakes than reading it in your head.

Start by correcting any parts, that don’t flow. Are there any areas and arguments that you can develop further? Do your paragraphs flow and answer all questions asked? As writer’s when we write the first draft we are eager to get all our points down. Now you have time to consider whether the paragraphs are ordered correctly. Is there another logical path the article could take. Cut and paste should be your friend here.

If I cut chunks out of any article, I have a junk file where I paste them. Months later I may use one of these lines in a new article. Never delete anything permanently.

Whilst you go through this process look at how the article is formatted. Are there areas where you can break paragraphs down into smaller chunks? The large majority of people read on their phones, white space is your friend. Use as much space as you can.

The advice is 4–5 sentences per paragraph.

Take out anything that isn’t essential to the post. I carry out this whole process in my notes application. Other writers prefer to write straight to Medium, as always the decision is yours.

The Flow of the Article

Next copy and paste the article into a website called Hemingway Editor. Hemingway Editor is brilliant for looking at sentences that are too long and don’t flow. It will suggest areas where simpler words can be used. It will also show if you have used too many adverbs or too much passive voice.

Look through the options, that Hemingway suggests, but remember this is your post. If it doesn’t feel right to change, then stick to your original ideas.

Grammar and Spelling

Then copy and paste the writing, into a website called Grammarly. I use the free version but have been considering upgrading. Grammarly will look for the majority of grammar issues.

Again look at the changes it suggests and don’t go for every suggestion.

Final Read Through

Your final task is to read the post through, one more time. I again would suggest that this is done a couple of hours after the editing. I prefer to do this the next day when I hit publish.

Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to carry out the final check on formatting.

Now hit publish.

Editing is a time-consuming process, but essential to all pieces of work. As we write our first draft our brain downloads onto the paper. There will be problems with grammar and spelling. We are too busy creating ideas to worry about the technical aspects of writing. By following this simple five-step process you can edit effectively and quickly.

  1. Re-read — Out loud
  2. Hemingway Editor
  3. Grammar and Spelling
  4. Final Read Through
  5. Check formatting and publish.

There are other websites and applications I use to polish keywords and headlines. You can find that information here.

Sam H Arnold is a UK writer and mentor. To support her writing join Patreon.  To follow all her work find her on Facebook. To receive regular writing tips join her Email List or join Twisted Tales for fiction and poetry. © Sam H Arnold 2019

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