I’m not the kind of person who picks out grammar edits in writing and lets it ruin an entire piece, but sometimes grammar edits can really damage the quality and effectiveness of something you read. Whether it makes the words difficult to read, the message too difficult to understand, or just breaks the space you’ve created for your reader, grammar mistakes can be dangerous. The problem is that most of the time, writers and bloggers don’t even realize the grammar mistakes they are making (myself included). Though editing is easy, it’s surprisingly not a standard part of most bloggers’ work flow. After researching, writing, designing, and scheduling a post, editing seems like a tedious afterthought that isn’t necessary. Unfortunately that is not the case. Editing is a vital part of the writing process – and can be a very simple and effective way to improve your writing if you know how to edit effectively.
The first step when you’re editing your writing should be a Spell Check. This is a standard tool in word processing programs like Microsoft Word and can catch errors like basic spelling and grammar. You should be writing your posts in a program like this, or just using one before you publish to make sure that there are no obvious grammar errors present. In fact, even the WordPress post editor now has its own version of Spell Check that you can use while writing right in the window.
But, unfortunately spell checks like the one in Microsoft Word can only catch obvious errors. Only the human eye will catch things beyond that, so it’s necessary to read your work over yourself. After you write the post, read it over out loud to yourself. It’s amazing the errors that you will catch when you read something out loud rather than in your head. Since you can hear the errors as you say them, rather than just skimming over them as you read, you’re more likely to catch problems when reading out loud to yourself or to others.
Take a Break
If you’re writing your posts ahead of time and scheduling them for a day down the road (as you should be) this also means that you have some extra time in between when you write and when you publish. The best way to use this time is to come back and read your post a few days later, when you’ve forgotten about it. This is almost like reading the post for the first time, with a fresh perspective. You’ll see errors in the writing that you didn’t notice before, and you’ll notice sentences that you no longer like the sound of. Taking a break between writing and editing is a vital way to edit and catch things you never otherwise would have.
One great way to stay organized when you’re editing your posts is to create a checklist of things to look for. This should be a list of things that you find are often a problem in your writing, and more general issues. This means general things like spelling errors, and smaller things (like maybe you always write it’s when it should be its). This list should be a reminder of all the things you need to edit for, and you can go through the list one by one for every blog post. I’ll be creating an ultimate list of things you need to edit for in the new year – keep your eyes open for it in 2016.
Edit in Stages
One sure way to edit your writing well is to edit in stages. Read through once just to make sure the post makes sense on a general level, then again looking for grammar edits, and then again for smaller errors. Editing in stages means that you don’t have to try and think of every problem to look for at once, and you can take your time to consider and fix every issue.