It’s easy to get caught up in what you’re writing. It becomes your focus. You invest a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of passion, and a lot of yourself into your work. And it doesn’t matter whether that’s a blog post, article, or a book. In some ways the line between what you’re writing and you can become blurred.
Because of that, we can miss things. We can overlook things. We can gloss over the not-so-good and focus only on the good parts of what we’re writing. Sometimes, we can convince ourselves that a bad piece of writing is actually pretty good.
In a perfect world, we’d have another set of eyes scrutinize what we’ve written — tools like Google Drive and Draft are great for that. Sadly, it’s not a perfect world. You might not know anyone who can, or who has the time, to read over what you’ve written.
While I advocate pressing the Publish button as soon as possible, I do so with a caveat or two. And one of those is to take a short break. To step back and look at what you’ve written with some level of objectivity.
That’s not easy. As I wrote at the beginning of this post, we can become personally entwined with what we write. We’re sometimes willing to tolerate a few minor flaws in a solid, cohesive whole. Or worse …
Optimally, you should step away from something you’ve written for a day. That lets your mind clear and lets you establish some distance. If you can’t do that, then step back for an hour or two.
When you return to what you’ve written, read it carefully. It’s easy to gloss over something you’ve looked at for hours or days. Focus. Read every sentence, every word slowly and deliberately. Beyond typos, look for things like:
- Weak turns of phrase
- Bad transitions
- Jumps in logic
- Poorly-formed arguments
Don’t stop and fix them. Just make a note of the problems and keep reading. Once you’ve done a careful reading, make the changes. Then, repeat the process. You might find one or more smaller issues, or you might find nothing too glaring. From there, you should be ready to publish or send your work to an editor.
Stepping back to gain a bit of perspective can take a little extra time. It’s time well spent. It’s time that will make your writing stronger.
Thoughts? As always, your comments are welcome.
Photo credit: coopgreg