Editing an article is like brushing your hair. It’s not fun but you look like a slob when you don’t do it.

And mom was right. Just like you shouldn’t leave home before brushing up, you should NEVER publish an article without editing it first.

edit your writing

But if you’re like most people, your naive understanding of how editing works quickly spirals into hatred, frustration, and anxiety for the entire process.

Editing takes time and demands focused attention, and for those of you looking to beef up your digital platforms but struggling to hit publish, take heart. We understand the struggle.

edit your writing

These are the tried & true editing secrets we use at our personal branding agency to help influencers edit their writing — no hair loss necessary.

 

Top 10 Time-Saving Secrets To Edit Your Writing

 

1st Secret: Talk It Out

Many influencers trick themselves into believing that writing always begins with a Word Doc & a keyboard.

The Top Secret Ways Influencers Edit Their Writing 2--

Does it have to be this way? We say no because you boost creativity and gain clarity by verbally expressing an idea. You also save time by speaking instead of typing. (Ever heard of voice technology? Yeah, that’s why.)

Speaking is the most efficient way to get the bulk of your ideas out of your brain and onto an audio recording. For this you have 3 options:

1. Free: Use Google Docs

    • Open a new Google Doc.
    • Go to Tools.
    • Click on ‘Voice typing…’
    • A microphone will pop up. Click on it and start talking about the topic of your article.
    • Google will transcribe your voice in real time.

2. Basic Transcription: $0.10 per minute

    • Download the Temi app.
    • Open the app, tap to begin recording, and start speaking.
    • Send the audio file to the machine transcription when you finish recording.   
    • Expect to get your transcription back in about 5 minutes.  

3. Premium Transcription: $1 per minute

    • Download the Rev app.
    • Open the app, tap to begin recording, and start speaking.
    • Send the audio file to get transcribed when you finish recording. You can do this right from the app.   
    • Rev uses humans transcribers, so expect a 12- hour turnaround time with 99% accuracy.

  

2nd Secret: Coffee Break  

If you’re going to take a break, NOW is the most optimal time to do it.

Logistically, you might need to wait to receive your transcription.

Psychologically, it helps with the editing process.

1. Breaks increase brain activity, thus boosting productivity & creativity.

2. Editors should not multitask. Breaks allow you to tackle other tasks and prevent you from multitasking, which actually SHRINKS your brain.  

 

3rd Secret: Organize The Structure

This secret has 3 rules and you must follow them verbatim:

1. Return to your transcription and read it through twice.

  • Read through it the first time to refresh your memory.
  • Read through it the second time to engrain the concepts.

2. Using only copy & paste, rearrange the transcription to form a basic outline.

  • Intro
  • Body
  • Conclusion

3. NO ADDING WORDS. NO TYPING

 

4th Secret: Run It Through The ‘Huh?’ Test

Now you’re ready to run your article through the ‘Huh’ test.

Skim through the article and ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of this article and is that clearly stated?
  • Is the argument I’m making comprehensive enough?
  • Did I leave out anything necessary to understanding the main points?
  • Do I need to include any stories, stats, or quotes to support my points?

If any other those questions make you say, “huh?” or “uh?” or “duh”— then go back and add that missing information.  

 

5th Secret: Find The Flow

We hate wasting time, which is why we put this editing secret after the 2 previous secrets. Our reasoning? If you try to edit for flow before putting structures in place and editing for context, you’ll end up spinning your wheels and getting stuck in the mud.

stuck in the mud

Here’s how to find the flow of your article:

Make it easy for your reader: Add headers, subheaders, bullet points, and numbered lists for ‘consumability.’ These act as verbal cues to your reader and they must summarize the main points of the article. Your readers will love you for it and you’ll love yourself in the process.

Add transitions: connect your main ideas with phrases such as:

  • Here’s why that’s important…
  • That’s when I realized…
  • Let me walk you through how this process works…
  • Take this example….
  • Why should you care…?
  • Don’t go overboard with the transitions or you risk weakening your argument. (See secret #6.)

Rewrite clunky phrases: Read the article out loud — either to yourself or to your cat. Hearing your article will allow you to identify the clunky phrases that you need to reword.

(The Grammar gods have lists upon lists of rules that determine what qualifies as clunky, but since nobody likes memorizing rules, we found that reading the article out loud works well too.)    

 

6th Secret: Cut The Crap

Magically make your article more powerful by cutting out the crap. If what you’re saying can be expressed in 800 words instead of 1,000, remove those 200 words and your writing instantly becomes 20% stronger.

edit your writing

1st, trim the fat.

Look for redundant phrases and concepts. These usually show up as great ideas regurgitated using different diction.

Before: “Successful leaders own their mistakes, so if you want to be a successful leader, you must own your failures and hold yourself accountable.”

After: “Successful leaders hold themselves accountable by owning their mistakes.”

2nd, cut out the fluff.

Before: “I soon came to realize that it would become absolutely necessary to join together with knowledgeable experts and make it clear that really, really, really unnecessary words should always, in every occasion possible, be removed from their writing.”   

After: “I needed to tell influencers when to remove fluff from their writing.”  

3rd, contextualize before you cut. 

Every rule has an exception (including this one). While we DON’T have a list of inexcusable “sin words” to avoid, we DO recommend avoiding some common fluff words. The most common fluff words include:

  • Basically
  • Certainly
  • Could possibly
  • Definitely
  • During the course of
  • Every single person
  • Exact same
  • Like
  • In actual fact
  • Still remains

 

7th Secret: Another Coffee Break!

Now is another optimal time to break because you’re transitioning from knotty editing into fine-tune editing.

goodbye coffee break

8th Secret: “Find & Replace” Your Most Common Mistakes

All of us are creatures of habit. Many of our influencers make the same little mistakes again and again. They forget to capitalize proper nouns like company names and days of the week. Industry-specific acronyms are always messed up. Pronouns consistently misused.

No worries. We save time by acknowledging those mistakes and intentionally editing past them in all the previous steps. It’s in this step that we return to those mistakes and fix them: in one broad swoop, using the “Find & Replace” feature in the word document.

Example:

Find “co chamber of commerse”

Replace with “Colorado Chamber of Commerce”

 

9th Secret: Make Friends With Online Grammar Tools

You’d be remiss if you didn’t pay a visit to one of these online grammar checkers (most are FREE!):

You’ll also want to run your article past a set of human eyes — someone other than yourself. Have a trusted friend, co-worker, or VA spot-check for easy-to-miss grammar mistakes.

edit your writing

10th Secret: Use The Pre-Publish Checklist  

DO NOT HIT PUBLISH until you check off all these boxes:

  • Is the article as complete as it could be?
  • Did I give credit where credit is due? (Hyperlinks, mentions, etc)
  • Did at least 1 other human proofread it?
  • Can I include any images to break up the text?
  • If I close my eyes, take 2 steps back, and reopen my eyes, is the format enticing to read it?
  • Could I understand the article’s main ideas if I only read the title, headers, and bullet points?
  • Am I proud to have my name attached to this article?

Hit publish. There’s enough on your plate already. Don’t let editing consume you. That’s how top influencers take their writing from 0 to 10 as efficiently as possible. (And you can too.)

RELATED: Why Flow is the First Step In Building Your Platform

(Image source: https://giphy.com/)