How to Self-Edit Your Writing


No piece of writing is done until you’ve edited it. I’ve mentioned before how I’m not a fan of editing. I find it the most tedious part of the writing process, but it needs to be done. You can’t expect others to read something full of typos and mistakes. But finding all your typos can be difficult because your brain naturally corrects mistakes in your head as you read, so you don’t even notice them. The best thing to do is hire a professional editor. But not everybody can afford to do that. (Especially for a blog post like this.) So I’ll share some tricks I’ve used to help self-edit my own writing.

1. Read

This is the most basic form of editing. You just re-read your work and rewrite it to fix any mistakes you miss. But it’s guaranteed you’ll miss some, which leads to step two.

2. Grammarly

This is a great app I use that finds grammatical mistakes that a simple spell checker won’t. Like your vs. you’re. Or when you should and shouldn’t use a comma. But don’t blindly accept every correction Grammarly suggests. It is sometimes wrong.

3. Hemingway

This is another app I use, but unlike simply spotting grammatical mistakes, Hemingway spots when your prose is confusing or overly complicated. It helps to simplify you’re writing, avoid passive voice, and be more direct and clear. (Like Ernest)

4. Speech

This is perhaps the most important step for me. I use the speech function on my computer to read the text aloud to me. It’s amazing how much you’ll catch when you hear someone else read your writing out loud. I’ll always find mistakes like extra or missing words that the first three steps missed.

5. Re-read

Finally, I’ll do a final read-through to make sure everything flows smoothly. By then, the writing should be free of typos, though that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. There are some grammatical mistakes that spellcheckers will miss. Grammar Girl is a good resource for more nuanced grammar tips. In the end, you might still need an editor, but these five steps should get you as close to typo-free as possible.

1 thought on “How to Self-Edit Your Writing

  1. Pingback: From Screenplays to Novels and Beyond | T.Z. Barry

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