The actual writing of a blog post is not the most time consuming process for many. Actually, it is the editing which takes up the most time. In my case, I can write a thousand words in a matter of minutes, but it is the editing which will take up the most time. Fortunately, with experience, I have developed a few methods for my writing process to minimize the amount of editing I do. It still takes awhile, but it is nowhere near as long as it once took to accomplish.
These tips will help those that feel they take too long editing their content. All of these tips are from personal experience, and they might or might not work for you. However, I would recommend that everyone gives these tips a chance to see if they help make you more productive.
Preparation, of Course
Preparing each paragraph of your article is a great way to reduce the time it requires to edit your posts later on. Reorganization of content can add a significant amount of editing time. Previously, I would end up rewriting several sentences just because they did not fit the overall flow of my post — I was the type to just jump right in without any planning. It was certainly not the most efficient way of approaching things.
To reduce the chances of needing to reorganize an article later, I now create headings or introductory sentences for each and every paragraph before I write it. Each heading or sentence represents the overall topic for that particular paragraph. It makes things much easier and faster to know what you intend on writing. Taking a few minutes to plan ahead will undoubtedly help reduce the amount of editing you do later on.
Write First, Edit Later
Are you a person which likes to edit as you go? I used to be that way — I would make sure that every sentence was perfect before moving on to the next one. Unfortunately, this is one of the worst habit’s a writer can pick up, and I did exactly that. I could spend several minutes on just a sentence or two trying to find out the best way to mash it all together to sound great. It was inefficient and often lead to me finding ways to distract myself.
If you want to finish your posts faster, write everything on your mind first, and then worry about the editing later. Get the idea down, and then move on to the next idea. I find it much better and faster to do the research first, write the article after, and then edit it last. Mixing these steps while writing has often resulted in wasted time for me. It might be difficult to adopt these methods, but it could be worth it. It has worked very well for me so far.
The First Read — Reducing Unnecessary Editing
You should read your article in its entirety at least once before even starting the editing process. Many of us tend to do edits on a paragraph by paragraph basis. This is somewhat similar to editing as you write, but the difference is that you focus in on one paragraph and forget that the content needs to play nicely with your other existing ideas. There is no point in editing one thing only to end up having to edit something else later on.
After reading your entire article, you can ensure that everything makes sense. It is almost like a good preparation step for the editing process. When I previously edited articles for a site I worked at, it was the reorganization of the content which took the most time and editing.
A paragraph is a collection of related sentences that discusses a single topic. The first sentence should introduce or summarize the topic. The last sentence should end the topic or transition to a new or related one. Everything in between should be the discussion about the one topic being discussed. People make the mistake of forgetting to start a new paragraph for every new thought. It is also a pain to edit.
Having a single sentence within a paragraph that strays off topic can add much confusion to the editing process. It will require much more thought to figure out how to include the sentence. Instead, just stay on topic. If you have to write about something similar — but it doesn’t fit — just transition into a new paragraph to handle your other thought. It will make editing much easier and less complicated. After all, editing should be primarily for fixing minor problems. If you’re having to fix errors like these, it is time to read my first tip again.
No One Is Perfect
Some of the greatest minds in the past and present have known when to move on to bigger and better things. This is also true for editing and writing. There will always be something that could have been done better. There is always a better word you could have used to describe something. There is always a better way you could have organized your post. In the end, perfection is the wrong attitude to have.
I admit that when I am editing my articles, I sometimes worry that people might take my articles the wrong way. I worry that I will have misspelled a word or written a sentence that does not make any sense. It is this worry that sometimes causes me to take an incredibly long time to edit an article.
The fact is, if I spent less time worrying and more time reading and editing what I have written, I would finish faster. It is only a matter of time before I make a mistake, and there is no point in worrying about it. Everyone will make mistakes, and they should just let the words flow and try their best the first time.
I take pride in trying to represent my articles as professional as can be. Even I notice bloggers for big magazines like Wired and PC World which seem to make glaring mistakes that can make me cringe at times. Regardless, the opinions and facts expressed within a post are what should matter the most to a reader.
To sum this all up in one sentence: preparation is key to making the editing process a faster and more efficient experience; it is what you do before that will make the biggest differences later.
Yes. James is right. You must get the words down. Then edit. Those who listen to the internal editor are creatively strangled. Editing as you go can work for short pieces, but long articles or book manuscripts? No. It will take you forever to get a book finished if you edit as you go. One thing newspaper writing taught me was composing on short deadlines. If you want to learn how to write well and write fast, get a job at a daily newspaper. Great training ground.
Thanks. I hope it works out for you
I like “Write First, Edit Later” then think about it.. This way you will be able to create a better write ups
An author called Gail Godwin wrote an essay called “The Watcher at the Gate”, which talks about the critic and editor in each of us that stifles the writing process. Naturally, we need the edits. But when writing, you need the ideas to flow. Sometimes even a bad idea can lead to another and another and maybe some of those will not stink as bad!
So, editing while you’re writing is a bad idea, I agree. Necessary later, but strangling during the creative process. Roy Peter Clark wrote an article on the subject (“Writing Tool #43: Self-criticism”) in which he talks about Gail Godwin and her essay in the fantastic Poynter Institute Writing Tools. Unfortunately, this series of articles doesn’t seem to be online anymore, since Mr. Clark converted the article series into a book — yay capitalism.
Anyway, I found the articles to be really helpful and have the all 50 in a Word document, so if anybody should want them, please feel free to email.
Thanks for the great article, James!
There never was, never will be. It is up to public interpretation
Reading your post over and over again will only leave you with one option- endless editing. Reading through, editing and also reading it out will give you close to what you want. There is no perfect write up!
Sounds like a good way to get it done
Pretty interesting inputs. I just dictate the whole thing and edit it at bits and pieces later.
I didn’t have time to add this, but anyways:
When reading your posts, read them aloud. It makes a HUGE difference to actually hear it. I think most professional writers would say the same.
Of course, the greatest thing would be to have someone else read and edit your posts. That, unfortunately, is not a viable option for many of us though.