You’ve spent two hours writing your latest blog post. You read it over like a dozen times and hit publish. You share it proudly with your readers and on Facebook, and sit back and wait for comments.
Yay! You got one, someone is reading! They pointed out that you made a spelling error.
Panicked, you rush to fix it right away and hope no one else noticed.
You proofread your work, but why is it so hard to make it perfect?
First, get over being perfect. Even though I have a process for catching little mistakes, they still end up published. Most people don’t notice, and if they do and they let you know—thank them and move on.
I write thousands of words a week for clients and my blog and book projects. I don’t have an editor or proofreader sitting right beside me to say, “Hey, can you take a look at this please?”
Instead, I have a few tricks that I’ve been using for years. Use this self-editing process on important emails, your website copy, your latest blog post, and your book. I highly recommend getting fresh eyes on your book—don’t try to go that one alone!
Here's how to be your own rockstar editor:
1. Drop it like it's hot, then pick it up again.
Walk away from your writing for 5 minutes, an hour, or even a week. Take a walk, eat lunch, play with the dog. When you return to your writing, your eyeballs will be fresh.
2. Amp up your spellcheck.
If you’re using Word, there’s the basic spellcheck, then there’s checking for slang and passive voice. (Hint: avoid passive voice, it waters down your writing). How to turn on passive voice checker: Display the Word Options dialog box, click the Proofing option at the left side of the dialog box, Settings, then make sure there’s a checkmark next to the Passive Sentences option.
3. Use a free (or paid) online tool.
I used the free version of Grammarly for years and loved it. I eventually bought the paid version for about $130/year. You can install a browser extension so it will check every word you write online—that’s emails, Facebook comments, blog comments, and more.
It finds more than just spelling mistakes. It’ll flag wrong words, passive voice, split infinitives, and those pesky dangling modifiers. The only downside—I use Google Docs for all my writing, and there isn’t a Google Docs extension (yet), so I just use the app to check any writing I do in Google Docs.
4. Print it out.
When we hold some text in our hands, it’s easier to spot mistakes. If you feel bad for the trees, use both sides, or reuse the back of those pages for notes and grocery lists.
5. Review it in a new format.
Try changing the font or font size—it’ll look different to your eye, and you’ll be able to spot mistakes easily
6. Read it out loud.
I do this all the time. If it sounds weird to say out loud, it probably reads funny too.
7. Read it backward.
When you’ve become familiar with the flow of an article, you know what’s coming next. Review one sentence at a time, starting with the last line until you get to the beginning. I promise you’ll catch some mistakes!
Take these tips and become your own best editor. If you get stuck, cleaning up word vomit (my client's words, not mine), get in touch. I can help!