21 Do-It-Yourself Editing Tips

proofreading and editing

Tips for Editing Your Own Work.

The human mind is a funny thing; it likes to play tricks on us.

For example, when we proofread and edit our own writing, we tend to read it as we think it should be, which means we misread our own typos and other spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes as well as problems with word choice and sentence structure, context, and overall readability.

If you have a friend or family member who has good grammar skills, maybe they can help you out by proofreading and editing your work before you send it out or publish it.

For special submissions and publications, hiring a professional proofreader or editor is the best way to make sure your writing is free of errors.

But for most of us, it’s not likely that anyone’s going to proofread and edit every single piece of writing that we create. That’s especially true for writers who put out a lot of material — like bloggers. Proofreading and editing services can get expensive, and friends and family probably don’t want to spend all their free time checking your work. Sometimes the only option available is to do it yourself. Read More

How to Make Grammar Part of Your Daily Life

good grammar

Make good grammar part of your lifestyle.

I recently started relearning how to play the guitar after a rather long hiatus. It’s not like I ever learned how to play it properly in the first place — so I’m still a beginner. And at times, I find it frustrating. I just want to pick the thing up and rip out a song, but I’m constantly tripping over my own fingers, and let’s not even talk about the pain that comes from pressing your fingertips against thick metal strings, repeatedly and for extended periods of time.

Writing’s not so different from playing the guitar. Sometimes we get hung up on the technicalities of the language, and the creative flow is hindered. It’s not easy to rip out a short story when you’re worrying about whether you can end a sentence with a preposition or whether your terminal punctuation marks go inside or outside of the quotation marks. These kinds of setbacks can be painful.

Learning the rules is a drag when you want to fly, but to master any craft, it’s essential to build a solid foundation. Learn the basics; memorize and practice them until they become second nature, and then you can really take off. Read More

Are You Writing Effective Sentences?

writing effective sentences

Are you writing effective sentences?

Nothing ruins a great piece of writing like weak words and poorly structured sentences.

We’ve all been there. You’re working through your first draft or perhaps making your way through revisions. The scene plays out in your mind like a movie. But when you try to put it into words, it just doesn’t flow right.

In literature, language is what makes a piece of writing tick. The plot and characters move through time and space on their own accord, but the words you use to tell their story give it rhythm and clarity. That’s why writing effective sentences is paramount for any writer. Read More

A Generation of Writers

a generation of writers

“Only a generation of readers will spawn a generation of writers.” — Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg is one of my favorite storytellers. He and I have something in common: we were both English majors! He knows what he’s talking about when he emphasizes the importance of reading. The simplicity and elegance of Spielberg’s remark makes this one of my favorite quotes on writing.

I encounter a lot of writers who don’t read. Some read in their younger years; others have never been big readers. Many want to read but simply don’t have time. And their lack of reading is evident in their writing, regardless of how much writing practice they’ve put in. Read More

Five Grammar Habits Every Writer Should Adopt

good grammar

Do you have good grammar habits?

Can you imagine a nutritionist who eats exclusively at fast food restaurants? A personal trainer who never exercises? A writer who can’t be bothered with grammar, spelling, and punctuation?

In most professions, best practices and tools of the trade are mandatory. If you want to be a doctor, you have to earn a PhD. If you want to land a job in accounting, you need math skills. But writers can easily finagle around best writing practices, especially with the increasing accessibility of self-publishing.

Basic grammar skills used to be mandatory — not just for writers but for all high school graduates. These days, you can get out of college with a degree but no clue how to properly structure a sentence or differentiate between they’re, their, and there. Read More

Learning to Write

learning to write

We tend to look at successful people and believe they made it overnight, and that’s not limited to how we see authors. We see wildly successful people enjoying the fruits of their labor, but what we don’t see is the labor itself — the struggles and failures they endured to get to where they are now. Read More

How to Increase Your Writing Productivity

writing productivity

Increase your writing productivity.

It’s not easy to find time to write.

Even professional writers get caught up in paperwork and marketing and have to scramble to get the actual work of writing done.

But with careful planning and better time management, we can all learn how to produce more writing.

Here are seven writing productivity tips that will help you write more, even if you have a packed schedule. Read More

How to Write Good Books

how to write good booksWe’re all influenced by the world around us. Natalie Goldberg’s quote on reading good books is a reminder that whatever we take in will affect whatever we put out:

“If you read good books, when you write, good books will come out of you.”

I believe this is a truth that goes beyond writing. When we surround ourselves with positive, supportive people, we in turn become more positive and supportive, fostering a nurturing environment that is conductive to achieving our fullest potential — as writers and as human beings. Read More

10 Reasons Writers Should Master Grammar

good grammar

Should you learn good grammar?

Each writer has a different perspective on how accurate grammar needs to be.

Some are sticklers who insist on adhering to the highest standards of the literary order. Others are comfortable taking creative liberties and believe that breaking the rules is an art unto itself and a practice that should be embraced.

Me? I’m somewhere in the middle. I believe that a writer who is dedicated to the craft will take the time and invest the energy required to master the most basic tools, grammar being foremost among them. But I also believe there are situations in which it’s best to break the rules — as long as you know which rules you’re breaking and why. Read More

You Can’t Edit a Blank Page

jodi picoult

They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. We can say the same thing about writing: it’s better to write badly than to write nothing at all.

Jodi Picoult offers some insight that summarizes this idea in a clear, concise manner:

“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

Read More