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BLOGLetters to the Editor

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Blogging, Communication, Make It Happen TipsheetTagged as: ,

When you read a book or newspaper article, do you think that the writer got it “perfect” on the very first draft? Or do you think that an editor (or two) may have made a few changes, prior to publication?

Yet, too ofen when we ourselves write a memo, report, or presentation outline, we are so rushed that we write, send, and every so often, regret it.

For most people, editing is a skill learned in grade school, and rarely does the skill move beyond this level. Thankfully, with a few simple guidelines we can self-edit, and with practice, get many of the benefits of a professional editor. After you have completed your first draft, put it aside for a period of time, and then begin the editing process:

  • Edit for word choice and flow: have you chosen the most effective words, and do the sentences flow easily when spoken aloud?
  • Edit for facts: are you certain that your writing is factually correct? Is there evidence presented to corroborate?  And are you correctly quoting (and attributing) others?
  • Edit from different perspectives: who are the different people (or groups) who will read what you write? How might they interpret what is written? (And is this the interpretation that you want?)
  • Edit for clarity: Watch out for jargon, wasteful words, and concepts that get in the way of your main idea.
  • Edit for logic and consistency: does what you say follow a logical flow, and is it internally consistent?  Or does it ramble?
  • Edit for spelling and grammar: the spelling and grammar checker within your word-processor still can miss things: read your work thoroughly yourself. Double-check the spelling of any names.

Particularly for blog writers, the simplicity of posting ideas sometimes means that editing is conveniently forgotten. Unfortunately, when this happens, your poor communication skills are open for all to see, forever: your clients, colleagues, prospects, recruiters – everybody.

THIS WEEK’S ACTION PLAN

Improve the effectiveness of your writing – and others’ perceptions of you – by being an editor, not just a writer. At the minimum, review each of your emails and blog postings, before you press “send”; the more you edit, the quicker the editor you will become. And remember: some editing is better than none.

Bonus point: Did you catch the editing error in this post? (In the 4th bullet, after the colon, the word Watch is capitalized. For consistency, it shouldn’t be.)

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