It’s natural for writers of all kinds to spend time thinking in depth about what they want to write. This is often a vital aspect of preparation – after all, what’s the point of starting to write if you’re not yet sure that you have anything meaningful or interesting to say?
In the full flow of text production, however, getting to grips with subject matter is only half the job, the what you want to say part of your message. The other half revolves around how you decide to say it, which consists of two specific, closely related areas: style and presentation. These factors remain true whether you are writing an article, an entire book or just a small section of marketing material.
If you can be your own editor, all well and good, but not everyone can. The reality is that the writer and the editor wear two different hats. If you do have to wear both of them, but are worried that they may not both fit, fear not…
Here are my top tips for writing and editing copy effectively, making your job more enjoyable and helping to make sure your readers can glide effortlessly through your words:
1. Write your initial draft in one session and edit it in another session.
2. Stop procrastinating! You may have some ideas in your head for your piece of work but until you commit to that first sentence nothing is truly getting done.
3. Write the first stuff that comes into your head and doctor it afterwards.
4. Use a software editor to initially highlight mistakes, but don’t rely on it totally.
5. Check any rules of grammar that you don’t readily understand. They may be automatically pointed out and explained on a software editor such as the grammar checker on MS Word, but you may also need to look them up elsewhere at times.
6. Know at least two sources of ‘good English’ where you can 100% rely on the information given.
7. Make sure you have access to an up-to-date, reliable dictionary, such as The Concise Oxford English Dictionary. There is now an online subscription version available, in addition to the well-established, physical tome!
8. Locate a human source of sound English knowledge who can agree to be available for any double checking that you may need on important documents. Remember this could be your professional editorial assistant, or a loved one, but that they all have busy calendars and will need to be booked in to help you.
9. Do the shopping for supplies before you embark on any heavy-going writing or editing sessions – this often means stocking up with tea and biscuits!
10. Book yourself a nice activity to enjoy after your session, so that you can rest and renew mind, body and spirit.