Not all writers are blessed with editors who make sure their work is error-free. Most bloggers these days select the topic for an article, write said article, and then publish it, all on their own. A crucial step that is often missed in this process is editing. Publishing an un-edited article strewn with errors is harmful for a blog's, and its writer's, credibility and reputation which once damaged are difficult to reinstate. Editing and proofreading are unavoidable processes for any writer, whether experienced or an amateur. Here are eight tips bloggers can use to turn their drafts into articles worthy of publishing:
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Create a basic writing structure
Before writing your first word, you should create a basic structure that your article will follow. The structure can be as simple as ‘introduction’, ‘subheadings’, and ‘conclusion’. If you find yourself in a rut while writing the introduction, you can leverage this structure and work on a particular subheading instead. The structure also helps you tie-together the entire article into a coherent body of text, rather than a mix of heterogeneous paragraphs.
Don't edit while writing
Writers are an insatiable bunch. No word, phrase, or sentence is ever perfect in their minds. It often happens that writers dwell on a particular word or phrase, thinking of suitable alternatives, because the one they've just written seems to be ‘off’ in some way. This method of writing is detrimental as it derails the writer’s train of thought, which subsequently results in them taking a longer time to write and edit the article.
Don't edit immediately after writing either
An editor's mindset needs to be different from that of the writer's. When you've just finished writing an article, your perspective is limited; it becomes hard to evaluate the article from a neutral view. Taking a break before editing refreshes your mind and you begin to read the article differently — words you thought were crucial to a sentence may now seem expendable, and entire sentences may suddenly seem redundant. When you edit your own work, try ignoring the fact that you wrote it and view it from your readers' perspective.
Clear and concise writing is the way to go
Writers often use flowing sentences stuffed with advanced vocabulary in a bid to appear smart. But doing so genuinely harms the readability and potency of their work. Writing that is simple and easy to read is no way bad; Ernest Hemingway won the Nobel Prize in Literature despite never using a word that a teenager wouldn't understand. George Orwell, who was also an advocate of simple writing, laid out six rules which every writer would do well to follow:
- Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything barbarous.
Writers who want to simplify their work would benefit from using certain editing tools like the Hemingway app, which highlights excessive adverbs, complicated sentences, and the unnecessary use of passive voice.
Learn the difference between editing and proofreading
People often mistake editing for proofreading. While proofreading is the process of finding and eliminating grammatical errors such as spellings and punctuations, editing encompasses a lot more. Editing involves checking the structure and flow of the article, relevancy of the content, and validity of facts and figures. An editor should ensure that the article achieves the purpose it aims to fulfil, that there are no deviations from the essential narrative, no frivolous statements that distract the reader. Proofreading, on the other hand, requires thorough inspection of each sentence viewed apart from the main narrative. A simple spell check on a word processor won't suffice, since the complexities of the English language require a trained eye to spot errors.
Include links for citations and references
Outbound links are vital for a blog post's SEO. If your article carries links to authoritative sites that rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs), your blog will soon begin to rank higher as well. Besides SEO, outbound links also bolster an article's credibility. Statistical facts or quotations cited to supporting references instantly gives them more authority. Also, always hyperlink relevant words or phrases instead of generic terms like 'click here'.
Don't overdo it
Multiple edits and proofreads of an article are necessary, but there is such a thing as 'too much'. Every time you re-read an article, you’re bound to find something that you want to change. Writers are never perfectly happy with their work, which can make editing it an endless process. If your blog post is free of grammatical errors and follows a clear structure with concise writing, then you should go ahead and publish it. After all, 'done' is better than 'perfect'.
Follow these tips for long enough and they’ll soon come naturally to you. And incorporating a strict editing and proofreading process will have an instant positive impact on your blog posts. If you have any editing tips that I've omitted, let us know about them in the comments below.