Posted by: Jack Henry | May 20, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Tips for Editing Your Own Writing

Today, I’m commiserating with you. I know how hard it is to edit your own writing. It’s much easier to edit for someone else. It’s hard for writers to look at our own writing objectively. We know what we mean to say. We fill in any blanks. In our minds, we add all the missing context. And, unfortunately, we often skip over our own errors.

You can get better at being your own editor, though. Here are three tips that will help you be more objective:

  • Take a break

Put your thoughts onto the page, and then take a break. When you come back to your piece, you’ll be at least a bit more able to be objective. Overnight is the optimal amount of time, but I realize that’s not always possible in our line of work. Even a 10- or 15-minute break gives you added perspective.

  • Use common words, not fancy words

I’ve worked with quite a few people who were determined to use multisyllabic words or uncommon words because they thought it sounded more professional. But if you’re forcing your reader to run for a dictionary to look up a word, and they’re in a hurry, you might lose them. Writers don’t have to use big words or lots of words to sound smart. What we need to do is to write clearly and plainly.

  • Kill your darlings

This odd little gruesome phrase is advice that is often given to writers. It means that you have to be willing to get rid of sentences, paragraphs, or even sections that you really like but that are not adding value to your text. We have to remember not to clutter the message by providing unnecessary information, even if we really like the information or the way we wrote it. If it is not focused on the message, and if it’s not necessary for the reader, you really should delete it.

And here’s one more tip: all of you Symitar employees can submit your work-related writing to Symitar Documentation & Education Services, and we’ll review it and send it back with our suggestions. We offer this valuable, painless service free of charge!

I hope the rest of your day is beautiful.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

Pronouns she/her/hers

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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