Writers' Treasure Editing and Proof Reading Editing and Proof Reading – Busting the Myths

Editing and Proof Reading – Busting the Myths

So you’ve written a novel. Oh, okay, let’s not use the word ‘novel’. Say anything: short story, essay, just any form of writing. You’ve written the first draft. You think it’s good. You think it’s great. You think it’s wonderful.

But it’s not ready to be distributed or shown to anyone else yet. Before that, there is what some writers call the ‘mammoth’ task of editing/rewriting. To make sure that everything is perfect. No contradictory information, no confusing sentences, no over-used words, no kid-like grammar, and the like. Similarly, checking for spelling mistakes (typos) or grammar mistakes (called by some as grammos — I personally don’t use that word!) is known as proof-reading.

Many writers hate the task of editing or proof-reading. Why?

Because they think it comes when the ‘creative stage’ of writing is finished. They hate to look for errors — they’re already convinced it’s done, come on! Proof-reading — argghhh (according to some writers). Necessary evil.

But when one looks below the surface, a lot of different answers are to be found. Editing is not as hard as it looks. Nor is it boring. It’s fun.

Yes, I’m not kidding. It’s fun to correct your work. Although it’s not as much fun to correct the same mistake over and over again. 🙄 To fix broken sentences, to correct grammar — the fun of that depends on you. For me, they’re not too great, but they have to be done, nevertheless.

And what about proof reading? Well, even that’s not as hard as most people think. Yes, it is a bit boring—in fact, very boring at the start—but it’s immensely rewarding. When you go over the same thing twice and find that all previous mistakes were corrected by you, the author, the feeling which comes is great. Sense of achievement!

As a matter of fact, proof reading your own work is also helpful long-term. When the brain collects information about what kind of mistakes it’s doing, it will not do the same mistakes again. Grammatical errors such as the wrong use of the apostrophe, “its” vs. “it’s” or “accept” vs. “except” will be done plenty of times in the first draft. But as you keep editing, proof reading, writing, editing and proof reading all over again, you’ll find that the mistakes will gradually reduce. The brain will get more competitive.

Proof reading: proof reading generally means to check your work minutely for typos, grammatical errors, strange repetition of words, accidental contradictory information and the like. Although they’re highly annoying to correct the first time, it’s also rewarding to see after a period of time that you’re no longer making those mistakes just because you made them in the first place. See Copyblogger’s excellent article on this for more information.

So now we know that editing and proof reading is not as hard as it looks, and it’s also rewarding!

Now, will you hate editing your draft again? 😉

Have Your Say

How do you feel about editing and proof-reading?

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9 thoughts on “Editing and Proof Reading – Busting the Myths”

  1. There’s a great book that covers “levels of editing” called Technical Editing (by J. Tarutz). The author recommends making three separate editing passes; first for large content restructuring, second for sentence-level issues, and third for typos and other minor issues. I find that breaking the editing process up this way helps me to focus more effectively.

    Great tips, Idrees!

  2. I couldn’t agree more. Proofreading has been the most hated part of some writers. We have to deal with it as it is very necessary to make our works error-free.

  3. It’s exausting at times but I love it when a better way to word a sentence / paragraph comes along. Or, a okay chaper gets a revision and fits better. When I get stuck I start editing chapters that haven’t been checked yet it gets things moving again.

  4. Technical Editing (written by J. Tarutz) is an excellent resource for learning about various “editing levels.” The author suggests performing three rounds of editing: one to address major content rearrangement, another to address sentence-level flaws, and a last round to address typos and other minor issues. The editing process is much more manageable when I divide it out in this way.

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