It’s exciting, and often a relief, to move on to the editing process once you’ve completed a project. But, before you hire an editor, it’s wise to make sure you’re actually ready for that next step.
First things first, take a break. When you complete a draft of anything- manuscript, paper, essay, memo- it’s good to step back and take a breather. Likely, you’ve been focused on this one project for quite a while. A break gives you time and space to evaluate your work with a fresh pair of eyes.
Second, read through your document and make your own first round of edits. You are most likely going to find things that don’t make sense. There will be places where you copied and pasted but didn’t make that text fit within a sentence or paragraph. You will see instances where you’ve veered off topic or lost the thread of your story. Ideally, you’ll go through this process two or three times, editing and drafting your own work.
After you’ve completed several drafts, get some feedback. Find a first reader. Ask a coworker or peer to review your essay or memo. Find out what they like, where there are confusing parts, and what they want more of. Use this to create your final draft.
Things to watch out for as you self-edit:
- Capitalization: Don’t capitalize words for emphasis.
- Verbs: Make sure your verb tense is the same throughout.
- Jargon: If you’re writing something industry-specific, ensure that your language makes sense.
- Citations: If you’re quoting, paraphrasing, using statistics, or have anything else that needs to be attributed to an original author, be sure to include a citation.
- Spacing: Use one space between sentences.
Why complete these steps before hiring an editor? You’ll maximize your money and make the most the editor’s expertise. If you’ve put the work in to polish your piece as best you can, your editor will be able to concentrate on the bigger things- clarity, the flow of your piece, structure, and tone- rather than getting lost in the weeds of typos, grammar, and punctuation which can take up more time and focus.
Spending time working on your piece can help you down the road when it comes to the next essay or paper or manuscript. You’ll be ready for the editing process, both your own and an editor’s. Realistic expectations can help you focus on your project without frustration and worry. And, you’ll be honing your own writing and editing skills at the same time.
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