The great thing about blogging is you don’t have an editor looking over your shoulder, constantly telling you to tighten this, cut that, or expand on some area.
You have the ability to say exactly what you want to say, when you want to say it. . . after all, your art blog is the one place you can share your art and your life as an artist without inhibitions.
Still, as liberating as it is to "be your own editor," there are many times when you need to make sure that your posts sound and look professional. And that’s where self-editing comes in.
Self-editing your art blog doesn’t have to be time consuming, and it definitely doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 7 steps to help make sure your post is the best it can be:
1. Write your first draft offline
How many times have you written a great post only to have it vanish because your Internet connection dies? Or worse, you write your post inside your blog’s posting area and think it looks great, only to find out a day or two later that it’s riddled with typos and grammatical errors you didn’t see the first time around?
Take advantage of offline word processing programs like Microsoft Word, and save your work as you write. Use the spellchecker to help you automatically catch typos that your eyes may glance over. Though it won’t catch everything, it’s a great place to start your editing.
2. When in doubt, use a dictionary
Don’t be afraid to use the dictionary to double check the meaning of a word. (Dictionary.com is great for that.) I can’t tell you how many times I thought I was using a word correctly only to discover I wasn’t!
One such word was "infamous." I used to think it was a positive adjective, until an editor pointed out that I had totally ruined a good review with that one word, then kindly informed me of its true meaning.
Another book to keep on hand is The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. This book can help you communicate your thoughts more clearly by showing you how to weave sentences together in a way that flows from beginning to end.
3. Use a thesaurus
We all have them. . . favorite words and phrases that we use over and over again. And those words, at some point, will become nauseating to our readers. Make a conscious effort to switch up those words by using a thesaurus to help you find different words with similar meanings.
4. Walk away
Once you’ve written your post, save it, and walk away. Give yourself a half hour before you schedule the post to go live. This will allow you to read the post with fresh eyes.
5. Do a read through
When you return to your post, read it aloud. Reading your post aloud will make you read every word and it will help you find areas that may need a little more work.
By reading your post out loud you may discover that you left out a key point, that your bottom paragraph will sound better at the top of the post, or that an entire sentence should be removed because it causes confusion, not clarity. You may even find words that the spellchecker said were correct, when in fact they were not.
6. Check your sentence structure
Now that you have a better understanding of your work as a whole, check each sentence to make sure it’s doing what you want it to do.
Do subjects and verbs agree? Are there any run-on sentences? Should passive verbs be replaced with active verbs? Did you use the correct punctuation mark? Are you using the same point of view throughout your post? (i.e. You, he/she, I.)
7. Is the post complete?
Before you hit "publish", ask yourself, "Does my post have a point?"
In other words, what did you want to say with your post. . . and does every sentence within that post build upon one another to bring that point home?
Reviewing your post with the eye of a critic may seem hard, but give it time. The more you practice these self-editing tips, the sooner it’ll all become second nature.
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