Just finish a draft and want to check your writing? Here are some top tips for making sure everything is in tip-top shape!
Spell check. Sound basic? It is. Even so, as an editor I’ve gotten documents from people – writers who should know better – with simple errors I have to fix because they didn’t run a spell check. And as an editor, it really is annoying. Take that step.
Read aloud. This is another great way to catch mistakes. I’ve found things by doing this that I missed after reading something three times over.
Get another opinion. If you have a writer (or editor) friend you can run the piece by, it’s good practice to do so. Perhaps you can swap articles/chapters/posts on a regular basis to keep that workload even.
Walk away. Taking some time out to clear your head is a good thing. After a break, go back to your writing and re-read. Your fresh perspective will help.
Look it up. Not sure about how to word that sentence? Does something look off grammatically? Don’t just lament it and try to figure it out on your own…look it up. Every writer should have a copy of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style somewhere nearby. Seriously.
Got any tips to share? Leave one here in the comments section below!
Want to be happy? Do something every day, so says Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, a bestselling book and popular blog.
It sounds pretty mundane, but according to Rubin, it works, and it can apply to any sort of habit—making the bed, working out, doing the dishes—do it every day and you might find “pleasure in the routine.” Getting into a daily habit, I think, is is a great way to keep from procrastinating doing something you know is good for you, but is hard to start doing–like flossing. Or in my case, writing. And writing query letters.
You see, I have a day job, which is actually writing-based, but outside of that job I find it sometimes incredibly difficult to motivate myself to get to work on a new project or, heaven forbid, just do some good old-fashioned free-writing or journaling.
In fact, inspired by Rubin, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to write daily.
I think it is important to always be on the lookout for ways to improve your writing skills. Here are five things you can do that can help you polish your craft:
Volunteer. Become a writing tutor somewhere and help others learn how to write well. It will help you brush up on your skills and remind you of the basics.
Teach. If you have to break things down for others, it will make you think them through.
Take a class. Look at your local community college and see if they have something interesting. Take a poetry class. Try a grammar course. Learn about language.
Read a book. What is your weakest area? Find a book on it and get to work. You get as much out of writing as you put into it. Hone your skills.
Add to your knowledge. Learn ten new vocabulary words a month. Save magazine articles you enjoyed and study them to figure out what the author did to draw you in.
You can do any of these–or all of them. The more you work at becoming a good writer, the better the chance you have of getting published and making a living doing what you love. Simply put–you can’t know too much!
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