“Once open a time…”
There’s something wrong with the above sentence. It’s easy to spot, but most writers – even the greats – are often found making mistakes of this nature.
The difference between great writers and the rest isn’t only a gift for powerful prose, it’s a sound editorial process that weeds out mistakes and brings clarity to their writing. Below, I’ve explained how to improve your editing process using TomatoTimers, Grammarly, Yoast, and Hemingway Editor.
But before we get to that, it’s important to walk you through the correct approach to editing any write-up.
Recommended reading: Writing The Right Content, And Getting People To Read It
How to approach editing content
Editing is a process that helps a writer weed out the inconsistencies from the writeup. These inconsistencies and errors are something that no writer wants to see in the final piece – and that’s precisely what makes editing fun. But fun or not, it’s an extremely crucial part of the entire process, and therefore it’s important to know the correct way of approaching it and delivering your best content.
Pause, reflect, return
Editing immediately after writing is a bad idea – you’re too close to your content and won’t see where you can make improvements. I always write my content, then go away to collect my thoughts, and then come back to begin editing it.
Read your content aloud
While it may sound silly to read your own content out loud to yourself (after all, it’s your own words) it’s an effective quality check. By reading through your work, you can see if it reads correctly, and spot any spelling/structural mistakes.
Think like your readers
Unless you’re writing for yourself (and if this is your approach you’re likely to be the only person who’ll read your content) you need to create content that adds value to your readers. So, when you edit your content, ask yourself this: “is it answering one or more of my readers’ pain points?” If the answer is no then you need to address this.
Be absolutely ruthless
Editing isn’t about patting yourself on the back and polishing your literary ego. It is, instead, about cutting the crap and that means you need to approach it with a cutthroat attitude – all fluffy words and sentence must go, and any paragraphs that don’t support your thesis need to be removed.
With all that said, let’s look at some tools to ensure a seamless editing process:
TomatoTimers: Pause, reflect, return
The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management strategy designed to improve the quality of your work. The idea is that people work best in 25-minute slots, with any projects that take longer causing a drop in standards.
TomatoTimers is a Pomodoro timer that alerts you every time you’ve reached the end of a slot. The way this tool helps the pause, reflect, return part of editing is that it puts the principle in place throughout your writing, so that when you make your edits the task should be much easier.
Grammarly: Read your content aloud
Yes, you should read your content back (not necessarily, literally aloud) but what if there was a helpful tool to highlight the problems in your content for you? That’s exactly what you get with Grammarly.
Download the Grammarly extension, run it while you’re creating your content, and any errors will be flagged up as you write – it’s doing just that as I compose this sentence.
Yoast: Think like your readers
To really bring value to your readers, you need to think like them – what drives, excites, and terrifies them? Getting into this mindset is the start, but you must evolve this process and ask what they would then be looking for to sate these impulses. How do you do this? With SEO friendly content and that’s where Yoast comes in.
Yoast is the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress (if you use a CMS like Shopify you’ll need to review what’s available in the provider’s app library). Yoast optimizes your content for keywords, stops you from duplicating content, and even helps you create a meta description – something that’s vital for driving traffic and conversions. Any good editor knows that content becomes worthless if no one sees it. SEO is the tactic to help people find your content and Yoast is the tool to create optimized content.
Hemingway: Be absolutely ruthless
Ernest Hemingway is one of the finest ever writers and his content follows a simple principle – explain what you want to say as simply as possible. Simplicity should be the goal of your approach to editing and Hemingway Editor will help you achieve it.
Hemingway Editor tells you if you’ve used too many adverbs, if your sentences are too complicated, and gives you a reading score. While you shouldn’t become beholden to it (doing so may brutalize your content), employing it sensibly will definitely make you content simpler to understand.
Editing is one of the most important stages in the creative process – it’s the one that ties everything together and puts it into a digestible package. Next time you start a piece of writing, use TomatoTimers, Grammarly, Yoast, and Hemingway Editor at hand and your final content will really deliver on the goals you set for it.