Do you use revising and editing techniques while writing?
Lessons. Mistakes. You and I learn them the more we write blogs, articles and our nonfiction books. We eventually have to work smarter and not harder. Revising and editing while writing isn’t the smarter road to trod.
I came to the table of writing these materials having learned how to edit and revise as I write in high school. My high school teachers taught us how to make corrections per sentence.
In return, as a classroom teacher, I ensured this was part of my daily writing lesson plans. Did I mention that during professional development days, the facilitator’s presentations mirrored the same technique?
English teachers had no choice but to implement this technique in the classroom and be sure our students received practice for it. Plus, it was district policy for us to do this.
I came across another blog by Daphne Gray Grant, who shows the actual way we learned how to edit sentence by sentence.
She shows the following:
It’s easy to agree with her on the above. This process was long and quite irritating.
I realized through assessing student work back then that this was a painful process. This pain still applies today.
If you’re editing each sentence while writing, I ask you to please stop and develop a new approach.
So, by now, you can tell that I passed down the tradition of editing while writing and applied the same until one day something clicked.
Revising and editing are part of the final stage for publishing.
The end justifies the means. Every published work you read has usually gone through its final revising and editing process. The reason why I say “usually” is because some published works may have a few kinks on the pages.
You don’t have to be an editing expert to recognize grammatical or spelling errors. Everyone can read a mistake within the lines of any content.
My former students noticed when a statement was miswritten on the whiteboard, and I’d call them up to revise and edit it.
I appreciated the variation of their styles for revising and editing, too. Again, for the most part, what published works you read have undergone some form of revision.
So, really it’s polished, looks, feels and reads correctly, right?
Here’s a bad writing habit that I had to make myself unlearn.
I remember writing my papers, essays, articles, chapters and poems and editing as I wrote them.
It was nothing for me to even wait until the last minute to complete most of my written assignments.
Plenty of times I’d write out my short stories and essays an hour before class in college.
Shhh. Please don’t tell professors Paul Genega, Patrick Rosal, or Dr. Angela Conrad.
However, it’s true. Now, back then we didn’t have access to as many editing software like today.
No sir. No, ma’am.
If anything, Microsoft Word had just released a soft version of grammar checking. The program scanned for misspelled words and usage of incorrect punctuation.
I find that I was too lazy to just free write and apply the writing process, which is to plan, write your draft, rewrite, revise, edit and publish.
Not me. I did it all at one time. Rushed through everything and submitted to avoid the penalty of being late.
I didn’t think through or process things long enough. My classmates and friends did the same thing.
I think it’s because we’d hang out a lot before class and act in a silly way.
When it all came down to writing, we did complete our work, however.
They say hindsight is 20/20 and that we see things better and differently after the fact.
I can’t undo my past writing behaviors and neither can you.
Monica Coleman coins that “who you were an hour ago is not who you are now. We’re always in the process of becoming.”
Since my shift from classroom English teacher to full-time writer, business owner, and entrepreneurship, I understand now the value of planning and brainstorming for an idea, blog, article, book, web content, a sales funnel, book funnel, and copy.
I grasp how critical it is to write down everything and pre-plan for it. If not, you will forget that incredible idea from other distractions.
Who writes with perfect grammar from the start?
Please do not approach any writing (book, blog, article, content) with thoughts like the grammar will be perfect from the start.
Thinking this way is one of the fastest ways to trigger writing anxiety and writer’s block.
Your first writing piece will not be perfect and will have grammatical errors before revising and editing.
Research shows that one-way writers get anxiety and blocks for writing is from situational approaches.
They also begin with negative thoughts.
When you start writing anything, your initial objective can be to free-write the idea, scenario or encounter. At this stage, keep grammar out of the equation and planning.
Sometimes you may write the middle before introduction, or ending before both the intro and body. Again, keep grammar out of the equation.
It’s perfectly okay. There’s no rule for how to begin your draft per se.
It’s when you arrive in the rewriting stages where you’ll restructure and organize everything.
Ernest Hemingway was great about starting his fiction stories in the middle. In literature, this technique is called ”in medias res.”
In medias res means to begin a narrative in the middle.
So, even after your rewrite and organization, you may find that starting in the middle works better. Grammar is always included in the revising and editing stage.
Here are the 5 things you should do.
1. Write down your topics and ideas immediately as they come to mind.
2. As you begin to approach one for the day or moment, write out what you already know. Use your prior knowledge on the subject.
For this section, you can create various maps to capture and brainstorm your thoughts. The traditional KWL chart works, Venn diagram, or word web.
The way the KWL chart divides into three columns reads:
K -What I Know W -What I Want to Know L -What I Learned
For the sake of blogs, articles and even books, consider changing the columns to the following and filling them in:
K -What I Know W -What I Want My MARKET/NICHE to know L -What Do They Want/Need to Learn
The Venn Diagram compares and contrasts two different points. It’s also a great graphic to add to your content, blog, book or article.
Word webs have the topic, idea, concept in the middle of a circle. Then words or sentences orbit around the main center.
All of this is part of free writing and brainstorming or planning.
3. After you’ve completed the free write, research information on your topic. I have a great article on how to research here.
4. Add additional information to your charts or webs. Be sure to cite where and who gave the original information.
Also, remember even after you paraphrase another statement, the original thought isn’t yours. Paraphrasing still requires quotations and citations.
5. Once you capture all of the content in written form, proceed to the revising stage first. Then edit. Wait! Jacqueline, why are you separating the two?
I separate revising and editing because both have different approaches.
Revising – corrects sentence, flow, and word usage. Here you may remove a sentence entirely, add a new statement or subheadings, bullet or number certain sections, and replace words.
Editing – fixes spelling, punctuation and other grammatical errors. This area is more technical because you look for misspelled words, comma and semicolon placement, periods, question marks, etc.
See the difference? Applying the above strategies essentially takes you away from revising and editing. I conclude that it takes your mind away from these stages because you’re free writing differently, planning and brainstorming differently.
The more you free write, plan, and brainstorm, you eliminate stress, anxiety and writer’s block. Moreover, should a block come, does this means to walk away from the writing? I believe it’s the right decision during these times. Engage in something else. You’ll write when you’re supposed to each day.