You have to edit. There’s no way around. If you’re lucky enough to have a professional writer in your office, then you have it easy. Send your stuff along to him or her and get on with your other tasks. But, if you’re like many of us, self-editing is your only option.

Here’s a few tips I’ve learned in my own self-editing adventures.

  1. Take your time. Give yourself as much time as possible between writing and editing. Maybe you only have a few hours. Write and then go to lunch or write something else. Then go back to your first piece and edit. If you have a few days, even better. A little time away from your writing will help you see it with fresh (and more critical) eyes.
  2. Don’t edit on the fly. Writing is writing, and editing is editing. Write first, then edit. If you try to edit as you write, you’ll just have to edit again later, and you’ll frustrate yourself with over thinking what you’re writing.
  3. Use your voice. And I don’t mean your writing “voice” I mean the voice you sing with. Read your work aloud. You’ll catch awkward phrases and all those misplaced homonyms that spell check will miss.
  4. Share the load. Give officemates or even family members an opportunity to look over what you’ve written. This should help you improve clarity and catch remaining problem phrases.

What about you? What methods do you use, and what tips can you share for making self-editing more effective and efficient? Let us know in the comments!