No matter what type of writing you do–fiction, nonfiction, or freelance–you should expect to revise your work. Learn four essential tips for revising your work from Christina Katz, author of The Writer’s Workout.
When you are a professional writer, you spend at least half of your time rewriting, likely even more time than you spend drafting new work. But the process of rewriting needn’t be tedious and nitpicky. So go ahead, draft, cut, rearrange, review, tweak, tighten, and then work your way down this list.
4 Key Revision Tips For Writers
Here are some general tips to getting to your best drafts quickly.
1. Use your spell-check, grammar check, and check your spacing. Run all three of these checks a couple of times, once right after your first draft and once right before you turn your work in.
2. Keep your format simple. Single space. No all-bold or all-italic. Justified left. Put your title and byline in bold. Use Times New Roman, Times, or Helvetica as your font. Never use tabs or insert manual spacing. Forget any fancy formatting. Sidebars go at the bottom with the subhead, “Sidebar.” That’s it. No box or special bullet points. Remember that you will often submit in an e-mail, which would mess up any formatting anyway.
3. Read your draft out loud once or twice before you turn it in. The places where your tongue trips and your voice doesn’t flow indicate that you need a few more tweaks before your draft is really done.
4. Have someone else read your piece before you turn it in. Ask them if the article is clear and error free. Ask them if they have any questions after reading it. (Your article should answer questions, not prompt them.) If the reader’s concerns are irrelevant, that’s okay. Jot them down if they spark any ideas for you. Get in the habit of thanking others for their help, whether you agree with their suggestions or not. A good standard response is, “Thanks, I’ll think that over.” When you are ready to edit, revisit the notes or suggestions and decide which ones you want to incorporate.
No matter how many drafts it takes you to get to crisp, clear writing, don’t judge yourself. You will improve with time and practice. Who cares how many drafts it takes? Just get the job done. You’ll get faster over time and with practice.
Want to learn more about revising? Discover more writing tips from The Writer’s Workout and learn how to:
- Improve your writing skills to make your writing as strong and powerful as possible
- Pitch and sell your work to editors and agents
- Deal with rejection and how to come back better than ever
- Build an author platform and develop an audience
- Balance your creative life with your daily life