Did you know that poor writing costs employers $3.1 billion per year in the USA?
Not surprising when you consider how important good writing is in the business world.
In fact, this was one of the reasons I recently posted “Your Brief Guide to Hiring an Editor as a Non-Native English Freelance Writer.”
Hiring an editor is one of the best decisions you can make for your writing business. But learning how to edit your own writing is also crucial.
Your editing skills can help you when you’re sending a cold pitch to a prospect, asking a client to pay you, getting a perfect score in an English exam, or any situation where you need to make a good impression with your writing.
If you need to brush up on your editing skills or can’t afford to hire an editor right now, this blog post is for you.
Read on for some editing tips that will help you edit your own writing. I’ve collected these from reliable resources like best-selling books and top writing blogs.
Let’s get down to business!
Tip #1: Avoid Editing While Writing
“Fucking two things up at the same time isn’t multitasking” – Dick Masterson.
Author Dick Masterson is totally right. Shifting from writing to editing – and thinking you’re doing them simultaneously while you’re not- is serial tasking, not multitasking.
According to Harvard Business Review, research shows that turning your attention to a new task requires shifting your focus from your mind to your body by engaging in physical activities or taking breaks. If you don’t do this, your performance won’t be effective during the next task. So let your writing rest for a few hours (or days) before editing it.
Tip #2: Use Online Editing Tools
You can use automatic editing tools to spot errors in your writing, including uses of passive voice, adverbs, alternative words and wordy sentences.
My personal favourite is Hemingway Editor.
It’s a free tool that includes all the features above with a readability checker on the right sidebar.
Some other useful tools are Grammarly, Ginger, and LanguageTool.
Tip #3: Replace Weakling Verbs With Strong Ones
Lots of top-notch marketers like Gary Vaynerchuk, Ann Handley and Henneke Duistermaat avoid using weak and broad verbs in their writing.
“Ditch weakling verbs in favour of bold action words if you want to breathe life into your writing,” states marketer and author Ann Handley in her best-selling book, “Everybody Writes”.
If you don’t want readers to give up on your articles after ten seconds, “breathe life into your writing. And the only way to breathe life into writing is to use vivid verbs. If your vocabulary isn’t advanced, keep improving it and don’t settle”. (from Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement speech.)
“Strong verbs engage your senses, and help readers picture a scene” says writer Henneke Duistetmaat in her recent blog post on Enchanting Marketing, “99 Strong Verbs to Make You Content Pop, Fizz and Sparkle.”
Need more examples of strong verbs that add vibrancy to your writing? 249 Powerful Verbs That’ll Spice up Your Writing is a fantastic free resource by New York Times bestselling author Jerry Jenkins. The list is available to download as a PDF so you can keep it handy next time you need some inspiration.
The trick is to strike a balance and make your writing style down-to-earth and engaging. No one likes to feel “lectured” to when they’re reading.
Thesaurus.com is a great tool to find strong synonyms for weak verbs.
So there you have it, some tips to help you edit your own writing! Writers took years to discover these techniques and are giving them away to you on a silver platter. Make good use of them!
Whether you edit your guest posts, cold pitches or business e-mails, chances are you’ll get better results in your business.
And, of course, feel free to create your own tips to go with these – you’re the boss of your writing biz!
Do you have any editing tips that work well for you? Let us know in the comments.