“If I Had More Time, I Would Have Written a Shorter Letter.” This famous quote attributed to Blaise Pascal reassures us that even the best writers need to set aside plenty of time to edit their work.
When you fail to edit your writing effectively, a great idea can become a confusing ramble. This makes it hard for the reader to understand what you’re saying, and you risk losing their attention.
Follow these tips for quality control when editing your own writing, and get your ideas across succinctly to your audience!
Read Your Work Like a Script
A printed copy of your work can really help with spotting errors.
If you perform your piece of writing out loud, you will be able to pick up on grammatical errors. Reading aloud tells you when to take a breath, and therefore add a full stop.
Consider getting a friend to read your text aloud to you if you want a completely fresh perspective on your writing.
Take Time to Revisit Your Work
When you spend a lot of time writing, it’s easy to fail to spot silly mistakes.
If you are staring at a screen you can become too close to your work. When scanning over the page your brain can see what it wanted to say, not what is written down.
By taking time to have a break from your writing you can revisit your work with fresh eyes.
It’s a good idea to reformat your work with double spacing so you can see clearly. You can even choose your favorite font so it feels like a completely new text.
Pay Attention to the Structure
When editing, many people focus on spelling mistakes and grammar. Be sure to edit your structure as well.
A good way to do this is by making sure your writing reads smoothly and cohesively. If you jump to a completely different topic in a new paragraph, then maybe this information would fit better elsewhere in your text.
It’s also helpful to use transition words to make your writing flow. These act as a bridge between paragraphs so your thoughts can link seamlessly.
All Killer No Filler
A good editor will cut the unnecessary words from your writing. It’s easy to get precious over your own writing and fail to cut out the unnecessary filler words and descriptions that don’t add anything to your work.
Take a tip from George Orwell’s rules of writing ‘If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
It may sound ruthless, but it’s a great way to get to the point and make your writing easy to understand.
Quality Control Means Quality Writing
We hope that with these tips for quality control you’ll feel empowered to edit your own work confidently.
Remember to take time away from your work, print it out, read it aloud, and delete words that don’t serve a purpose.