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My copy editing process and how it can help your blogging

99park-editing

Illustration by Greg Storey

I have been proofreading for a long time. Grammar was my best subject in middle school, and to this day, I am the friend who proofreads everyone else’s papers before it is time to submit them. When I was editor-in-chief of my university’s political review, I was responsible for copy editing every piece submitted to our publication’s website and became quite efficient at it.

For my own work, I take a very specific approach because, as a general rule, it’s harder to edit your own work.

Use a Safety Net

I have the free version of Grammarly installed as an extension on my laptop to fix silly mistakes that I might miss when I am typing quickly. This helps me catch any typos and splices as I write my first draft.

Once I am done writing, I read through my work once and see if I can pick up on any new errors. There are usually at least a few awkward phrases or poor word choices that Grammarly did not catch.

Fresh eyes (and ears)

After I have proofread once, I get up and take a walk or grab a snack. Getting space from the writing is important; I always feel like I am approaching my work with fresh, energized and newly vigilant eyes after taking some time away from the screen.

Next, I read the whole thing out loud. This sounds tedious and awkward, but it helps me catch phrasing errors that are not always evident to the eye. A lot of us write differently, but in verbal conversation, we find common linguistic ground to better understand and empathize with each other. Reading your writing out loud allows you to preview your audience’s experience. Essentially, I am asking, “How will this sound to somebody else?”

Ask for feedback

And then, I find out what it will sound like to somebody else! Once I have finished reading through and making corrections, I send my writing to someone else. There is something invaluable about another set of eyes on your work. Even if you are a confident writer, a peer can still offer a perspective about how something sounds that you may not have previously considered.

Once I make the suggested edits, I give my writing one final, quick read-through, and hit it with spellcheck. To be quite honest, once I have completed all of these steps, I often feel like I am looking at a completely different piece of writing from the one with which I began.

This all sounds pretty time-consuming, but there is nothing worse than hitting the “publish” button and realizing after the fact that you have put up some sloppy work. For me, it is a matter of pride. Everyone has unique, amazing ideas to offer, but only some are able to articulate them well enough to establish their own credibility and subsequently create a significant impact with their work. A clean, well-edited post grants you that credibility.

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