Tricks to Editing Your Own Work
Photo by Dan Counsell on Unsplash
When your brain makes you blind to your errors.
I naturally think in-concepts. I take in the meanings, the ideas, the principles, recognize the patterns, and see the bigger possibilities.
It is why I have a knack for world-building and series creation. Conceptual thinking lends itself to the long term and the future, seeing past the here and now.
The kicker is, details matter with editing and implementing your ideas. In noting the details, you lay a solid foundation for clarity in writing.
Seeing the details is also what makes an outstanding editor. It is a skill you can learn, but if you are a concept thinker like me, the journey is bumpier.
Listen to your words.
The working of the brain are complicated. Some of my biggest struggles come from not catching a word that I left out of a sentence. Why?
The brain knows what should be there and sees it, despite the fact it is not correct. That has to do with the way the left and right sides of the brain take in information.
One way to combat the problem is to listen to your work spoken out loud. Do this after you finish writing and have put your piece through editing software, such as Grammarly or ProWritingAid.
You can read aloud to yourself, or have Word read it back to you, or use a free online text to speech reader. You can even have a friend read it to you. By listening to my work, I catch words I have left out, awkward sentences, meandering tenses, and such.
I often use the wrong spelling of similar-sounding words, homonyms, or words that sound alike but have different meanings, homophones. Then you have homographs, which are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings.
Homonyms: mail-male, ball-bawl
Homophones: be-bee, by, bye, buy
Homographs: Lead meaning metal, Lead meaning to guide | bat as in baseball bat and bat as an animal
One thing that might help with catching these is reading backward; by that, I mean starting at the end of your document and reading backward, letter for letter, word for word.
I have a tough time with tense when my brain is in the creative phase of writing. Most writers’ recommendation is to write in the tense that comes most effortlessly for you. Most naturally.Dialogue can also throw you off because speaking parts and narrative parts can be in different tenses in the same paragraph. According to Ellen Brock, if you are confused or unsure say it aloud as if you were talking to a friend or in public.In the end, the best solution is getting beta readers or hiring a professional editor; whatever you do, make sure you put your best work out into the world. Take pride in your creativity and work.
Do your best work, but don’t hold out for perfection.
Just remember, there is no such thing as perfect. Perfect is an ideal we aspire to, not something anyone can achieve, except maybe in their heart or in the way they move others with their work.According to the Oxford Language Dictionary, perfect is “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.” Good editing can get you pretty darn close.
Fun tests for the brain.
The brain is complicated and affects the way we read, perceive, and understand language — especially those little editing things I talked about above. Here are some fun tests to learn about the brain and how it operates:
- Left Brain Right Brain from Heywise
- Ten Minutes — Brain Test from Mindcrowd-Alzheimer’s Research
- Another Left-Brain Right Brain Test from Psych Tests