Note: The following is a guest post from Jason Rehmus. To celebrate the launch of Sweating Commas, a business where Jason provides affordable editing services for bloggers and web writers, I invited Jason to share why he felt this blog could benefit from an editor. As you will see, he may be on to something with his new venture…
Talk about a mess! When do we get to see the better part?
I’m just kidding. Michael has a great blog here and I’m thankful for the opportunity to write another guest post for him. In fact, it was his idea for me to write about why I think this blog needs an editor.
Let’s start by taking a look at some examples from his recent posts.
A new year has arrived and that means it’s time yet again to choose three words to help guild my efforts in the coming year.
I think he meant to use guide in the sentence above. I suppose gild would work, too, but that’s kind of a stretch.
Wanting to lose 20 pounds six months is not a goal, it’s a project.
I’m pretty sure “… in six months …” is what Michael meant to write.
Don’t even get me started on how he uses ellipses!
The point of these examples is to show that even a competent writer like Michael can use some help finding the little errors that all writers make in their early drafts. Writers have a sort of tunnel vision while they work that causes them to overlook mistakes that are obvious to readers.
Even though readers tend to be forgiving, keep in mind that the harder you make them work to understand your meaning, the less likely they are to keep coming back. If the first blog post they read requires multiple passes to comprehend, then you’ve wasted their time and they shouldn’t be expected to read your work again in the future. A reliable editor helps you maintain your reputation and keep your readers by fixing grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors and making sure your posts are as clear as possible.
Even if you’re not interested in hiring an editor, you have other options for improving your posts. First, take the time to revise or rewrite. Don’t write a post in one sitting and think you’re done. At the very least, you should set it aside while you work on something else, then come back later to make improvements. Distancing yourself from the piece is essential to preventing the tunnel vision I mentioned earlier.
Find a friend or family member to read through your work for you. A second set of eyes is always better than just one when it comes to finding errors. As a writer you’re too close to your own work and will often overlook what needs to be fixed.
Once you edit the piece on your own or have someone else look at it for you, read it out loud. People don’t read with just their eyes and their brains. They speak the words inside their heads while they read. Reading out loud to yourself will help you identify words and phrases that sound clunky or unclear. It’ll also help you make sure you’ve written something you would actually say. If you read a sentence out loud and don’t believe it’s something that would come out of your mouth, your reader won’t believe it, either. Fix it right away.
Here are a couple more items I’d like to point out from Michael’s writing.
I can never remember quite what the tree looked like, but the seeds always manage to plant themselves somewhere in my mind.
This is a fantastic metaphor. It sounds great, is imaginative, and says exactly what he means it to say.
At one point or another, you start to feel the pressure to be clever rather than purposeful.
From a content standpoint, Michael has done a great job of balancing this on his site. He provides clever tips when appropriate, and he never shies away from diving deep into a topic that needs exploring.
Can you organically grow through nothing more than your own choice and effort or, at some point, does the right person or right group of people take notice of what you’re doing in order to get to the next level?
As a general rule, writers do well when they eliminate adverbs, but I would not ask Michael to remove organically from the sentence above. It sounds just like him. This really is how Michael Schechter talks. That sentence, just like almost all of the writing on this site, is representative of Michael’s voice, and it’s a good voice.
This blog needs an editor, but not any more than any blog needs one. If you have a blog, yours needs an editor, too. If you don’t have an editor to share your work with, find someone or train yourself to take on the role of editor before publishing your posts. Most writers I know are anxious to publish as soon as they’re done writing because they crave responses from their readers. Taking the time to make sure your post is the best it can be means you’ll get even better responses.
The discerning amongst you will notice that these mistakes are no longer on the site. I guess it pays to know a good editor… (and yes, these ellipses are here mostly to annoy Jason. As is putting this parenthetical after it…)