Have you ever written an important email or an assignment and had either been too lazy or so pressed for time that you did not re-read it? I have. And then, as you re-read it after it’s sent or turned in, you see some pretty glaring and obvious typos and grammatical errors. There are few things more embarrassing than making easy mistakes doing a craft that you claim to be extremely well versed in. In our world of spell check, one error could completely throw away your credibility. It’s human nature to make mistakes, but that’s why we need to be both writer and editor in one.
As I’ve said before, I think it is crucial to the flow of your writing process to write drafts without stopping to re-think or edit. But once you have prepared something that will be read by others, you must put on your editing hat and put your best foot forward.
I probably need to take my own advice more than anyone. To me, it is almost painful to re-read my work. I become instantly critical of what I have written, and am always afraid I sound silly. Instead, I live in the fantasy that I just created the perfect piece, and that there could possibly be nothing wrong with it. Arrogant, I know. And obviously, I am human and make a bunch of mistakes. So really, I am just shooting myself in the foot by thinking this way.
I am divulging this embarrassing truth about my poor editing process only because I want you to learn from it. I have made enough mistakes that I should learn from it too. We all are striving to be the best writers we can be, so why not take the extra time to read over what we have written. It might be uncomfortable, but it will save you a world full of hurt after you realize that you would have just sent that text on to a reader without fixing the six errors you just caught after reading it again.
Also, take some time in between when you put the pen down and when you take the time to edit. It is so important to come to a piece with fresh eyes and a new attitude. You will see your writing differently from if you just finished it eleven seconds ago and immediately go back to read it. You will still be in writing mode. Allow your brain to switch to editing mode so that you can focus on reading it word for word, rather than just reading what you know should be there.
If we all take a little more time to edit, we will be able to put forth our best writing possible. No matter what the context of your writing is, I think we can agree that accuracy and mastery of the craft shows just as much talent and dedication as the content of the piece. Do yourself a favor and take the time to edit, you’ll thank yourself for it!