In college I had an English professor who, I am still convinced, was definitely an alien. I’ve always really enjoyed writing, and English had always been one of my favorite subjects….until I got to this man’s class. He was old, grouchy, tremendously sexist, and exhaustingly negative (Ick).
The class was miserable, attendance was mandatory, and the whole thing was about as close to torture as I’ve ever been. However, I did learn something. This old professor was a stickler for formal writing, perfect grammar, and had no tolerance for “sloppy language”.
I learned how to proofread in his class and it has helped for the rest of my life.
Blogging, for a lot of people, seems above editing. The idea that a blog is a just a digital diary has proliferated the feeling that writing for this channel is “personal”, “informal”, and totally outside of the need for a critical eye.
Well, I’m going to channel my inner terrible english teacher and say “WRONG”! Your blog is your voice. It’s a platform to sound your passions. A venue to set yourself apart from your competition. You better believe it is the place for editing and a generous helping of review.
Be Informal. Don’t Be Sloppy.
I’ll be the first person to say that academic writing is not right for blogs. (Sure sure, exceptions to every rule, disclaimer, backpedaling, blah blah blah.) That whole topic is a story for another post, but the gist of it is this. People consume digital content differently.
Don’t be afraid to break the rules and let your personality shine.
People are coming to your little spot on the web because they want your point of view, said in your voice, riddled with your personality and all your quirks. Embrace that.
That doesn’t mean you can skip the editing stage!
Remember, you’re writing for your readers, and producing sloppy, hard to understand content is the best way to get them to click away and never come back.
It’s All In The Way You Read
Let’s rewind back to that awful English teacher. One of the first lessons he taught was how to read your own work for errors.
1. Sound It Out
Read through your next post, start to finish, but this time, let the meaning go. This sounds a little like one of those YouTube meditation classes.
Read every word, and really look at the letters individually. Sound out each syllable. It will seem like you’re just learning how to read again, but you will uncover spelling errors, misplaced words, and sentences that just don’t make sense.
2. Come Back Later
Writing takes time. Try to avoid (in fact, make it a personal policy) ever publishing something the same day your write it.
This is me giving you a little lesson on planning ahead. Use your content calendar, use your personal calendar, use your family Cozy calendar. Do whatever you’ve gotta do to schedule posts, write them ahead of time and give yourself plenty of space to edit and all the time you need to manage each post.
After you’ve written your content, put it down and forget about it. Come back to your post later with fresh eyes and you’ll spot missteps in style, tone, and factual errors.
3. Spellcheck Is Like Milk On The Door
You just can’t trust it. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s spoiled, maybe it’s in the in between phase and you won’t know what the deal is until after you’ve spent the afternoon puking.
Use your spell check, but don’t use it as a replacement for actually reading (and re-reading) your text. When you’re unsure about a word, look it up.
4. Add Some More Time
Put it down again, have a cup of tea, and check out this post, “How To Identify Your Ideal Customers”.
5. Delete Something
Coco Chanel once said “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”
I like to believe this also applies to writing. Edit your work, get it to where you’re happy with the message, and then delete something. This serves two purposes. It forces you to rethink the value of your work, and it encourages you to change up the message you’ve been reading over and over again. Deleting something gives you a new perspective on the text.
6. Read It Out Loud
Grab your husband, mom, or even your cat, and read your story like you’re preaching it on stage. Listening to yourself talk through your work will draw attention to unusual sentence patterns, repetitive words, dropped articles, and general cheesiness.
7. Take A Nap
I might have mentioned this one before (cough cough). Put it down, sleep on it, come back later. Give yourself a little time to forget about what you wanted to say and return with clear head.
8. It’s Time
Hold your breath, close your eyes (well…not really…you’ve got to see what you’re clicking on), and hit that “Publish” button!
The coolest thing about writing, is that there is always room for improvement. No matter how stringently you edit a text, you’re always going to find ways to improve it later. Even J.K. Rowling ended up with a few errors in the Harry Potter books.