Self-Editing for CC Success

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Self-Editing for CC Success

Postby Ed on Thu May 14, 2009 2:02 pm

Self-editing is an essential skill to the writer who wants to be successful at Constant Content. The following tips can be used to improve your ability to proofread your own writing.


Wait Before Making Your Submission
If you have ever worked against a deadline, you know that words and sentences begin to run together after you've read them over again and again. Because your brain and your eyes get tired, it's always best to wait a certain length of time – between a day or two and a couple of weeks – after writing your article before making your submission to CC. This rest will enable you to see your work with fresh eyes and to catch any errors that have been made. During this time, you may have thought of a better way to express your idea, and you can now modify your piece to reflect your inspiration.

Get Help from a Buddy
Sure, it's your responsibility alone to find errors in your writing. But pairing up with a buddy (with whom you have established a mutual proofreading relationship) can give you the opportunity to get objective feedback about your work. You will also be able to offer someone else feedback. Critiquing other writers' works helps writers improve their own work.

Be wary, however, of relying too much upon a stronger writer to find all of your errors. Errors that have been identified should serve as warnings against making the same errors in the future. Knowing you consistently make errors within a certain aspect of writing, then expecting someone else to find these errors every time you write an article, is not a route to success.

Improving your writing and proofreading skills is an active process. Apply the information you have been given through a critique. Seek out rules that describe the correct way to formulate the intended result and create methods that will help you to remember it. Then practice doing it the right way.

Read Your Work Out Loud
Read your work to yourself out loud. This practice will help you to determine if your writing sounds natural and to find redundant wording. What your eyes don't see, your ears may hear.

Aside from enabling you to hear how your work sounds, reading your work out loud also forces you to slow down and evaluate each word's function within the sentence.

Question Yourself
After you have written your article, go back and question each decision you have (probably instinctively) made. Go through your article line by line and ask yourself the following questions:

Is this sentence clear?
Do all parts of the sentence agree?
Have I followed all punctuation rules?
Am I sure I know what this word means and how it is used in a sentence?
Does one sentence logically follow another, or do I need more transitional statements and to include more information?
Am I sure this word requires capitalization? Should this word begin with a lowercase letter?
Have I expressed myself in the most effective way possible?
Have I created strong paragraphs?
Where can I reduce wordiness?
If I am prone to making a certain error, have I avoided making this error within the piece?

Seek Out References, Handbooks, and Websites
If you are unsure about a certain aspect of grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, paragraph formation, word usage, or any other concept, look it up. Constant Content's forums provide some basic information, but if what you are looking for isn't there, Google search can help you find the answer to your question. Websites run by universities are the best sources, but blogs written by individual authors may not be reliable, so be sure the information you find comes from an authoritative source. M-W.com is a good online dictionary. Strunk & White's Elements of Style can be found online at: http://www.bartleby.com/141/

If you're really serious about improving your writing, get yourself a good thesaurus and shop online for proofreading and grammar references that can help you learn about writing standards and rules.

It is better to make sure you are correct rather than to guess and end up being wrong.

Use a Spell Check, but Don't Depend Upon It
Your word processor's spell checker is a wonderful tool. It can catch errors that your eyes might have missed. However, it isn't infallible. If you've used the wrong word with the right spelling, your spell checker can't help you. You must still check your article for word choice or typographical errors.

Grammar checkers are unhelpful if you aren't already familiar with grammar rules. Grammar checkers are only useful for the proofreading process. They help you ask the questions you should already be asking yourself. Unfortunately, they cannot teach a person grammar rules, nor can they be relied upon to make the decision for the writer if the writer is not already familiar with grammar rules.

Print Your Work
Print your article and read it away from your work station. You will have been so used to seeing your work develop on a glowing screen that the article will seem like a complely different manuscript in its new form - and you won't be distracted by menu bars, email, or your favorite website. This means that you may be able to find errors you repeatedly missed in the article's initial drafts. Mark up your printed article using a method that makes sense to you. Cross out irrelevant information, circle errors, use arrows to signify a move that improves the organization of information, and ask yourself questions in the margins that you intend to address when you return to the keyboard. Then apply your improvements to the saved copy of your file.

Read
Read classics, read the newspaper, read nonfiction or fiction. Examine how writers you respect form sentences and present ideas. Pay attention to rhythm and word choice. Ask yourself how you would have written the sentence differently. Look up words you are unfamiliar with. Think about how the writer provided you, the reader, with a manuscript that requires little effort on your part. Ask yourself how you can recreate this experience for your own readers.

Know that There is Always Room for Improvement
Even if you have gotten positive feedback about your writing from others, know that there is always room for improvement. Writers don't stop at a point in their development and say, “That's good enough.” Writers keep seeking more effective ways to express themselves. Writers continually build upon their knowledge base.

If a phrase is bugging you or if you have doubts about your sentence structure, rework the section in question until it obeys established rules and presents the information to the reader in a clear manner.

This self-editing process is an inherent part of the writing process. It will often take you longer to do than it will to write the first draft. If you set aside enough time to proofread your own work, it will show. And if you don't, it will show.
Ed
 
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Re: Self-Editing for CC Success

Postby jak on Fri May 15, 2009 2:37 am

Golly, thanks for this, Ed. You have a whole article up here. You should put it up for sale.
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Re: Self-Editing for CC Success

Postby vjlenin on Sun May 17, 2009 10:18 pm

Ed, this is so helpful and inspiring, for aspirant authors. Why everyone missed this piece? For me, the editing is as tough a process as anything, while writing remains quite enjoyable. But what I do to get it done are these:

I have put my font zoom level to 180. Now, with Times 12 pt format, I can see every word quite clearly and perfectly so I can edit it better.

I got the reading software, textaloud, which reads the article to me, which helps me further spot errors.

I used to edit the article right after writing it until I was satisfied by it. I used to like submitting an article the same day, but now, I am thinking of writing today and submitting two days later.

Thanks, busy, gotta go
Lenn
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Re: Self-Editing for CC Success

Postby vision on Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:52 am

Thanks Ed,

I found the mistake. I am taking notes on my errors, like "ever" instead of "every" or "chose" instead of "choose"
I will take more time between submissions and will read it slowly and check every word.

Thank you for your feedback.

Ian
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Re: Self-Editing for CC Success

Postby Ed on Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:59 am

Awesome.
Ed
 
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Re: Self-Editing for CC Success

Postby Lisa-Anne Sanderson on Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:05 pm

Thank you, Ed. This will be a great help and I'll print it out and check my articles against it before submitting them!

Lisa
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Re: Self-Editing for CC Success

Postby bethka on Tue Nov 24, 2009 2:43 pm

Ed, thank you for all the great tips. I'm new here and actually really new to writing online and see where my number one mistake is writing an article and posting it right afterwards. Taking the time to read before posting is really great advice.

All your other tips are great as well and thanks again!
bethka
 
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Re: Self-Editing for CC Success

Postby Rydeguzman on Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:23 am

Hi Ed,
Thank you for this great advise. :D
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Re: Self-Editing for CC Success

Postby bethka on Wed Dec 02, 2009 1:34 pm

hello again. Well, I may have taken your advice a little to far. I had two articles rejected to correct and pulled the 3rd one in fear of being banned. If an article was rejected but suggestions made to fix the errors, is that a "rejection" counting towards the 3?

I have been working on the one article for several days, using your tips and then waiting before sending in again. Everytime I look at it I seem to make changes and now I'm second guessing myself. If there a format or place here to use, at least once, to get feedback from an editer? I would imagine they are too busy, editing articles but I am stuck.

I have actually done more reading online to help with grammer issues, writing and purchased two books so I am very serious about writing.

If there is a place to get feedback or if I do submit it and it's rejected again, am I banned?
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Re: Self-Editing for CC Success

Postby Ed on Wed Dec 02, 2009 1:44 pm

If you are having this much trouble with your article, the best advice I can give is to take some time away from the article and allow all that you've read to soak in. Then go back and take a look at your article. If you're beginning to second guess yourself, then you've been staring at the article too long.

Your initial articles exhibited some pretty severe problems, so you may want to take some time to practice elsewhere before trying to resubmit to Constant Content.

Thanks,
Ed
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Re: Self-Editing for CC Success

Postby bethka on Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:27 pm

Thanks for the response. You are right, the first two, in particular the "moral" thing was embarrassing. I've had two people look over the one article and thought it was fine, but yes you are probably, maybe I need to step back and give it a rest.

I'll wait a few days, look at it again and then decide whether to send it or not. There isn't any place to submit articles for feedback? If the article is rejected once more, I am banned forever?
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Re: Self-Editing for CC Success

Postby Ed on Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:36 pm

We do not offer feedback except through the submission process. I highly recommend you take some time to practice on other sites, where you may be able to get the feedback that you desire, before resubmitting to Constant Content. We expect authors to come equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to be able to submit articles that are publication ready from the outset.

Thank you,
Ed
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Re: Self-Editing for CC Success

Postby bethka on Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:42 pm

I get the point, and I guess the 3rd rejection is a total ban? I actually have written on other sites, for a few months, so while I am new, this is the 3rd site I've signed up for.

I can understand your comments after re-reading my articles and hopefully when and if I re-submit you will be able to see a huge improvement and accept the article.

Thank you again for your time.
bethka
 
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Re: Self-Editing for CC Success

Postby Sharion on Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:24 am

Excellent advice, Ed.

I try to revisit each article three times before submitting. Each time something gets reworded, tweaked, moved around or commas deleted. No special time frame on it and unless something feels off, I usually submit after the third read. If something doesn't feel right I set it aside and it doesn't get submitted until it does feel right.
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Re: Self-Editing for CC Success

Postby Ed on Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:55 am

The revision process can be one of the most pleasurable aspects of writing. At least I think so. The words and concepts are there, for the most part. The final polish enables the author to use attention to detail and finely tuned skills to create the finished piece.

But getting to the point where everything "feels right" is even better!

Ed
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