Tag Archives: Editing tips

Getting to the Business of Writing

for-aspiring-writers-copy

You should be creating  content on a weekly basis to keep your audience coming back to your platform, to keep your brand fresh in their minds.

Creating  Content

You should write daily in order to find your voice and improve your writing technique. You will be creating content for your blog and you should schedule that into your writing time. If you’re looking for ideas for what to write about, turn to what you know. If you’re a writer than chances are you’re learning new things every day, and not just things related to writing. What you are experiencing, what you’ve seen, and what you’ve heard are all great content inspirations. You have an endless amount of topics to choose from to meet your daily writing challenge.

Writer’s Block

Writer’s block does not exist. You can write about anything, including your inability to write. Your failure to put words on paper stems from your expectation of what you may produce or the subject you want to write about. You should eliminate distractions so you can focus on your writing when the scheduled time arrives. Carve out a good time of day for the task and prepare your environment beforehand.

By writing every day, you exercise your ability. So when it comes time to write things like a scene for your book, it will flow almost effortlessly from you and you’ll experience no writer’s block at all.

Editorial Calendar

You want to take the time to step away from your writing but have a set schedule to get to the task of editing it. You have taken the challenge to write every day, regardless of what it sounds like so you should also be committing to a strict schedule to edit.

It won’t all sound amazing after you’ve taken the time to get a fresh perspective. But now with a fresh set of eyes, you can rework your words into usable content.

Writing Well Consistently

Once you make a habit of writing every day, the ideas just come. You get into a flow state where the words just come naturally. The more you write, the more you’ll have to say. If you make that commitment to show up then your writing will consistently improve. Eventually what you have to say will become more compelling and more persuasive.

It’s true that the writing will be difficult at first, but your commitment will pay off by bringing you the success in writing that you’re aiming for.

Give yourself the liberty to write like crap. Remember that writing is something you learn by doing.

Totally Transform Your Next Blog Post

The Unfair Advantage Popular Writers Try to Hide

You know your writing heroes? Would you be shocked to learn that their writing is no better than yours?

Sure, the end product is better, but the first draft is just as clumsy, flabby, and downright difficult to read as any of your own writing efforts.

What popular bloggers know that many people don’t know (or don’t want to believe) is that a post isn’t finished simply because they’ve said everything they want to say. In many ways that’s just the beginning.

Think of your draft as a rough diamond. Value is hidden inside it and you need an expert gem cutter to reveal its beauty and clarity.

Which is why many top bloggers hire a professional editor to transform their rough diamonds into gleaming jewels. That’s right – someone else is helping them.

Somewhat unfair, right?

No wonder their writing seems so much better than yours. And even those bloggers who don’t use an editor have simply learned how to edit their own posts like a pro.

Fortunately, editing isn’t rocket science. If you have someone to show you how.

So let’s break down the rules that’ll help you transform your unremarkable draft into a perfectly polished post.

7 Editing Rules That Will Totally Transform Your Next Post

  • DON’T PAD YOUR PROSE WITH EMPTY FILLER WORDS
(Or: Avoid Using Grammar Expletives)

Grammar expletives are literary constructions that begin with the words it, here, or there followed by a form of the verb to be.

(Expletive comes from the Latin explere, meaning to fill. Think smelly literary landfill).

Common constructions include it is, it was, it won’t, it takes, here is, there is, there will be.

The problem? When it, here, and there refer to nouns later in the sentence or – worse – to something unnamed, they weaken your writing by shifting emphasis away from the true drivers of your sentences. And they usually require other support words such aswho, that, and when, which further dilute your writing.

Let’s look at an example:

There are some bloggers who seem to have…

The there are expletive places the sentence’s focus on some nebulous thing called thereinstead of the true focus of the sentence – some bloggers. And the writer must then use another unnecessary word – who – that’s three unnecessary words in one unfocused sentence.

Train yourself to spot instances of there, here, and it followed by a to be verb (such as is,are, was, and were) and adjust your sentences to lead with the meat and potatoes of those sentences instead.

(Tip: Use your word processor’s find functionality and search for there, here, and it and determine if you’ve used an expletive).

Other before-and-after examples:

  • It’s fun to edit – Editing is fun
  • It takes time to writeWriting takes time
  • There are many people who write – Many people write
  • There’s nothing better than blogging – Nothing’s better than blogging
  • Here are some things to consider: – Some things to consider are:

Caveat: If you previously described an object using there, here, and it, you’re not guilty of an expletive infraction. For example:

  • I love editing. It’s fun. (This is not an expletive construction since I previously described what it refers to.)

2. DON’T WEAKEN THE ACTION WITH WIMPY WORDS

(Or: Avoid Weak Verbs; Use Visceral and Action Verbs Instead)

Not only does to be conspire with it, there, and here to create nasty grammar expletives, but it’s also responsible for its own class of sentence impairing constructions.

Certain uses of to be in its various forms weaken the words that follow. The solution is to replace these lightweights with more powerful alternatives.

Let’s see some before-and-after examples:

  • She is blogging – She blogs
  • People are in love with him – People love him
  • He is aware that people love him – He knows people love him

Other verbs besides to be verbs can lack strength as well. Use visceral verbs or verbs that express some action. Let’s edit:

  • Give outOffer
  • Find outDiscover
  • Make it clearer – Clarify
  • I can’t make it to the party – I can’t attend the party
  • He went to Mexico – He traveled to Mexico
  • Think of a blogging strategy – Devise a blogging strategy

3. DON’T CRIPPLE YOUR DESCRIPTIONS WITH FEEBLE PHRASES

(Or: Avoid Weak Adjectives)

Weak adjectives sap the strength from your writing just as nefariously as weak verbs. Use the best adjectives possible when describing nouns and pronouns. And be mindful that certain words, like really and very, usually precede weak adjectives. Take a look:

  • Really badTerrible
  • Really goodGreat
  • Very bigHuge
  • Very beautifulGorgeous

Even if you don’t have a telltale really or very preceding an adjective, you can often give your writing more impact by using stronger alternatives:

  • DirtyFilthy
  • TiredExhausted
  • ScaredTerrified
  • HappyThrilled

Even worse than using weak adjectives is using weak adjectives to tell your readers what something isn’t as opposed to telling them what something is:

  • It’s not that good – It’s terrible
  • He’s not a bore – He’s hilarious
  • He’s not very smart – He’s ignorant

4. TRIM FLABBY WORDS AND PHRASES

(Or: Avoid Verbose Colloquialisms)

Today’s readers have limited time and patience for flabby writing. Their cursors hover over the back button, so say what you mean as concisely as possible before your readers vanish:

  • But the fact of the matter isBut (Avoid flabby colloquial expressions when possible)
  • Editing is absolutely essential – Editing is essential (Absolutely is redundant)
  • You’re going to have to edit your work – You’ll have to edit your work or You mustedit your work (Going to and going to have to are flabby expressions)
  • Due to the fact that editing takes time, some people avoid it – Because editing takes time, some people avoid it
  • Every single person should love editing – Every person should love editing (Single is redundant; and shouldn’t married people love editing too? 😉 )

5. DON’T PUSSYFOOT AROUND YOUR VERBS AND ADJECTIVES

(Or: Avoid Nominalization)

Nominalization occurs when a writer uses a weak noun equivalent when a stronger verb or adjective replacement is available. Like expletives, nominals usually introduce other unnecessary words when used.

Count the number of words in the before-and-after examples below, and you will witness how badly nominals weaken your writing:

  • Give your post a proofreadProofread your post (verb form)
  • Alcohol is the cause of hangovers – Alcohol causes hangovers (verb form)
  • The plane’s approach was met with the scramble of emergency crews – The planeapproached and emergency crews scrambled. (verb form)
  • He shows signs of carelessness – He is careless (adjective form)
  • She has a high level of intensity – She is intense (adjective form)

6. THROW OUT THE RULEBOOK ON PUNCTUATION

(Or: Use the Occasional Comma for Clarity)

The rules around punctuation can be complicated, even for the humble comma.

But do you truly need to know the difference between a serial comma, an Oxford comma, and a Harvard comma to write a great blog post? Of course not. (And it’s a trick question – they’re all the same.)

So my philosophy on commas is simple:

Use commas sparingly if you prefer, but if excluding a comma MAKES YOUR READER STOP READING, add another bleepin’ comma – regardless of what any comma police may say.

Let’s look at an example:

You can ignore editing and people reading your post may not notice but your ideas will get lost.

By not including a comma between editing and and, I read this sentence and asked myself, “I can ignore editing and people reading my post? Really?” Of course, readers work out the intended meaning a moment later, but by that time, they’ve already stalled.

So, regardless of what comma rule I may break by adding a comma to this sentence, as long as my readers don’t get confused and stop reading, I don’t care – and neither should you.

Let’s look at another example that needs a comma for clarity:

One day, when you find success you can pull out your golden pen and write me a thank-you letter.

By not including a comma between success and you, I read this sentence and asked myself, “Is success something you can pull out of a golden pen?”

Regardless of your stance on commas, you ultimately want your readers to keep reading. You want them to continue down your slippery slope of powerful content all the way to your call to action – without getting jarred from their trance to contemplate commas with their inner editors or a Google search.

7. BE AS MANIPULATIVE AS POSSIBLE

(Or: Use Noun Modifiers Whenever You Can)

You won’t use this technique often, but at least be mindful of it.

When we use two nouns together with the first noun modifying the second, we are using noun modifiers. I like them because they hack the flab from our writing by shortening our sentences. Let’s review some examples:

  • Tips on editing – Editing tips
  • Great advice on how to boost traffic – Great traffic-boosting advice (Traffic-boosting is a compound noun here)
  • Information regarding registration – Registration information

These sentences have prepositions between the noun sets. Whenever you spot this construction, try to implement this noun-modifying technique.

What’s Your Excuse Now?

These tips are not magical, mystical, or complicated. In fact, you could consider them downright boring, plain, and inconsequential.

But applying smart editing rules is what separates your heroes from the masses,catapults them to success, and makes readers say, “I don’t know what it is about their writing, but it’s absolutely fantastic.”

Look at is this way: You’ve expended a ton of effort on SEO, content marketing, networking, and social media promotion, all in the hopes that more people will notice your blog. So when they arrive, shouldn’t your next post blow their socks off too?

And how about your last post and the one before that? (Yes, you can apply these rules to your old posts too!)

Or are you one of those writers who think they write well enough already? Well, you might be surprised by just how many of these crimes against clarity you’re committing.

Open one of your posts right now and see how many of these editing rules you can apply.

Read each word of your post. Is the word an expletive? Is it a weak verb? A weak adjective? Does it represent nominalization or flab or break any of the other rules mentioned in this post?

Run each word of your post through this process. You will find something to improve. And your writing will be 100% more powerful as a result.

Because the search for perfection never ends.

And your writing is never too good.

Sure, proofreading and editing take time.

And yes, you’re already busy enough.

But your writing heroes edit, and they land the guest posts, book deals, and exposure you only wish you could.

So, take a break from #amwriting and start #amediting right now.

Your success will thank you.


About the Author: Shane Arthur is the copy editor for Jon Morrow’s kick-butt Guest Blogging Apprenticeship Program (aff.), where he applies these rules (and others) to polish students’ guest posts to perfection before final submission.

7 Simple Edits That Make Your Writing 100% More Powerful by Shane Arthur