It’s been said that great writing isn’t about the writing — the magic is in the rewriting. None of us write a perfect first draft, so the buffing-and-polishing stage is where your piece goes from ‘yawn’ to fascinating. Over my 12 years as a staff writer, I learned some basic editing steps to take with my writing that reliably improve my work. Applying these to my articles over and over is really how I built my writing skills.
When you correct a writing error over and over in the rewrite phase, you get tired of having to make that effort, right? So you start incorporating the fix into your first draft. Soon, your work needs less rewriting. You get faster at knocking out your draft — and your hourly rate goes up.
Recently, one of my mastermind graduates asked to use her coaching time for a writing critique. Going over her draft with her reminded me of how many simple rewrite tricks I’ve picked up over the years.
It’s actually easy to spot and fix common writing errors in your own work, once you know how.
So, here’s a guide to seven ways to improve your writing with second-draft fixes:
You’re about to fire off a query letter, submit an article assignment to an editor, or send an LOI to a prospect. Do you use a grammar checker tool before you hit send?
There’s the typical safeguards to catch spelling errors and basic grammar issues in programs like Microsoft Word and Google Docs.
But in the last few years, there’s been a kind of meeting of the minds between wordsmiths and software engineers to create more sophisticated grammar checker tools.
These grammar checker tools promise to:
- Catch spelling and grammar issues
- Identify major issues in your writing
- Learn your writing style
- Offer specific recommendations based on the type of writing you’re doing (business, technical, medical, marketing, etc.)
Does that mean you can just ignore all the rules covered in The Elements of Style (one of the most widely-used books on style and grammar since 1918) and use a grammar checker tool?
Let’s take a closer look at some popular grammar checker tools to find out if this is crucial software, or just a crutch for freelancers.
Note: Are you part of the grammar police? Or do you despise well-meaning writers who can’t overlook an errant punctuation mark or typo? In this post, originally written by Linda Formichelli, she serves up four in-your-face reasons grammar police make terrible freelance writers. Enjoy! —Carol.
The other day I received this email in response to a marketing message I sent out to my subscription list:
Basic grammar forbids the use of double negatives, “…using the wrong
set of skills for the wrong job”. An authority on writing must master
the rules of writing before they can be taken seriously.
(I so wanted to let this guy know that “the wrong skills for the wrong job” is hardly a double negative, and that some of the greatest writers of all times used double negatives for emphasis — Shakespeare, anyone? But I took my own advice and hit Delete.)
Do you think you know how to write a blog post? If your blog doesn’t earn much money, I’ll bet that you don’t — at least, you don’t know all the elements that go into writing a successful blog post today.
Writing a popular blog post is a lot more sophisticated than it used to be. If you want to attract a decent-sized audience, there are a ton of technical steps to take to make sure readers can find it — and then, that they read it, like it, and want to subscribe.
Here’s a look at the process my blog editor Evan Jensen and I have cooked up at this point to make sure our posts reach the largest possible audience (and yes, I’m using affiliate links for some of the tools I recommend):
How to write a blog post? First, have a plan
My top tip for having a successful blog is to create a system and checklist for each blog post. That way, you get a consistent result. It’s not that some posts come out spiffy and others look like something you slapped together in a semi-daze when you couldn’t sleep for 30 minutes last night. With a system, you can give readers a pro experience, every time, and leave them clamoring for more.
Here are the blog post writing rules I’ve developed:
Are your guest post pitches getting ignored?
If so, there may be some concrete things you can do to fix that. And it’s worth taking the time to figure out how to make your guest post ideas better.
Plenty of writers I know get all their freelance clients from the exposure they get guest posting on popular blogs. You can slog away posting on your own little blog named “blog” that’s living under a tab on your writer website, but few prospects ever see that.
Start guest posting for some high-traffic sites about the topics you’d like to get hired for, and all of a sudden, the calls start coming. These clients are usually impressed as heck that you’ve appeared on that big blog, and dying to hire you, in my experience.
To improve your guest-post pitches and get more posts approved, you’ve got to know how to please editors. So I asked a bunch of editors at popular sites what writers are getting wrong in their pitches.
Listen in as nine editors tell us their pet peeves. Here’s what writers are getting wrong:
Tagged with: blogging
, editor relationships
, guest post
, guest posting
But once you’ve got your book written, there’s at least one more step in the process…editing. And it’s something a lot of writers dread. Sound familiar?
So what do you do when you’ve written a book and want to make sure you’ve done your best work? You could try and self-edit, or pass off your prose to a family member or friend for free feedback. But either way fails to give you the kind of objective view you need to make the biggest impact. Both editing options are frequently plagued by bouts of frustration and procrastination, and conjure up horror stories about the editing process.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Find an editor who is competent and affordable, and you’ll sound smarter, reduce roadblocks that could prevent you from publishing, and give your readers greater value.
Want to know how to find the right editor? Here are six ways to find the right editor for your book: