The Importance of Editing Your
Written Work: How & Why to Do It

See also: Editing and Proofreading

Editing is the secret ingredient that turns merely “good” writing into “really great” writing. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not just about proof-reading to fix typos and grammatical errors. It’s so much more than that — it’s about ensuring that your ideas are clear, your arguments are convincing, and your message is compelling. Whether you’re a high school student, a freelancer, or a working professional — being able to properly edit one’s work is what will set you apart.

In this article, we'll explore the importance of editing your written work, and five simple steps to taking your pieces to the next level.

An editor sitting at a desk working on a computer

Tips For Effective Editing

In addition to enhancing the clarity and quality of your writing, these tips make the editing process smoother and more efficient:

1. Leverage Editing Tools

Here’s the best part of living in our day and age: thanks to tech, there are a plethora of editing tools are within reach to help you refine your prose. For example, platforms like Grammarly are not limited to identifying spelling and grammar mistakes; they also propose changes to sentence structures and expressions for maximum emphasis and comprehension. And of course, let’s not forget about plagiarism checkers, which detects duplicated content and ensures originality and integrity in your writing. These tools, while not substitutes for manual editing and refinement, can serve as valuable allies in your editing arsenal.

But it doesn’t end there. There are many other kinds of editing tools and resources that can help you level up your editing. Whether it’s a readability analyser, an online PDF editor, or a style guide that keeps your writing consistent, there’s no shortage of resources to help you hone your craft. With the proper tools, achieving professional results is a piece of cake.

2. Take A Breather

Have you ever discovered mistakes in your writing days later, even though you could have sworn you reviewed everything a million times? Don’t worry, you’re not alone, and this is a super common occurrence. The initial draft is the most exciting part of the process, and once you have finished writing, you may want to jump right into the editing process. However, stepping back and taking a breather can actually do wonders for your written work.

This pause will help refresh your mind, enabling you to read through your work with fresh eyes. It’ll be a lot easier to spot mistakes and inconsistencies that you would have otherwise glossed over when you’re engrossed in the writing process. When you return, you're more likely to notice areas that need improvement, such as unclear arguments or awkward phrasing. Whether it’s a couple of hours, a few days, or even a week, the impact of a break on your perspective cannot be understated. This is yet another example of the power of practising self-care as a professional.

3. Engage Your Senses

Do you ever catch yourself only reading your writing silently in your head? While this might seem sufficient, engaging more senses during the editing process can make a big difference. One way to do this is to read your writing out loud.

This is because vocalising your words activates your auditory senses and makes it easier to notice if your phrasing is clumsy, if you use the same word too many times, or if your sentences are not coherent. Listening to what you have written down allows you to catch things your eyes might skip over to assist you hone the rhythm and sequencing of your own writing. Not to mention, reading out loud makes you slow down, enabling you to pay extra attention to the nuances of everything you have written. This slower pace allows you to catch subtle errors and awkward phrasing that you might otherwise miss.

Additionally, consider trying other methods of using your other senses to connect with your text. This could be as simple as printing your work out and editing it by hand (the old fashioned way), or changing the font or background colour on your screen which may help you see your text in a new light. When you activate several senses, you increase your chances of spotting mistakes, making your end product much more polished and effective.

4. Focus On Structure

We can all agree that a well-structured piece is a pleasure to read. I mean, who wants to read an article or essay that literally seems all over the place? This is why it is critical to pay close attention to the organisation of your ideas during the editing process.

As a general rule, your introduction should introduce the reader to the subject, your body should further discuss it, and your conclusion should precisely tie everything together. But that’s not all — when a paragraph is too long, breaking it may be beneficial to the readability of your works, and subheadings help readers follow complex topics. It’s the small details that will really elevate your writing and make it easier for readers to enjoy.

Additionally, pacing also has an equally important impact on your writing. You want to make your sentences and paragraphs differ in length and structure to keep your audience engaged to the very end. A good tip is to use short sentences when you want to stress an idea or create a sense of urgency, and longer sentences for detailed explanations or contemplative moments.

Structure is all about variation, and pacing will craft a narrative that captivates and compels your audience, leaving a lasting impression long after they've finished reading.

5. Seek Constructive Feedback

Last but not least, while writing may be a relatively solitary experience, critical feedback from others may help you identify areas for improvement. So, take the time to reach out to one or several people you can trust, like a peer, mentor, or family member, and get their thoughts on your work. A fresh set of eyes will spot flaws that you might have glossed over, and constructive criticism will help you refine your writing further.

Most importantly, instead of fearing feedback, view it as a learning tool and use it to improve and strengthen your work. So, try to be as receptive as possible. Different people have different perspectives based on their personal experiences, which can seriously enrich your understanding of how your writing is received.

Sure, it can feel a little difficult to hear that your hard work may not be the definition of “perfection”, but it’s invaluable for your development as a writer.

Why Editing Matters

At its core, editing is all about elevating your writing to the next level.

As we said before, editing isn’t limited to identifying and rectifying typos and grammatical errors. Regardless of whether you’re writing an essay, a blog for your website, or a proposal for a client, editing is crucial in helping you achieve increased clarity, credibility, and engagement.

  • Clarity

    Have you ever come across a poorly written passage in a book, or been forced to wade through a sea of confusing thoughts? Lack of clarity makes for a poor reading experience, and the same applies to your work. Editing helps achieve precision in your message while eliminating any room for ambiguity and confusion — it ensures that your message is heard loud and clear, regardless of who is reading it.

  • Credibility

    Whether you’re sending out an email, a school assignment, or a business proposal, editing ensures your work is polished. And polished work translates to professionalism, giving the impression that you pay attention to details – one of many skills that are vital for your continuing professional development.

  • Engagement

    In our fast paced world, capturing the attention of your reader isn’t enough — you’ve got to retain it too. Well-edited content is inherently more engaging, drawing readers in and keeping them hooked till the end. By refining your work and creating a smoother reading experience, you ensure your audience stays invested from start to finish.

To Sum Up

It doesn't matter if you're a student, a freelance writer, or simply someone who is putting together a proposal for work. At the end of the day, editing is something that benefits all types of written work and is the magic ingredient that will transform your writing from good to great.

So, take these strategies on board and watch as your writing reaches new heights. All the best and happy writing!

About the Author

Caitlyn Bell is an arts student whose experiences in life make her tougher than anyone else. She can lend you expert tips on diverse topics ranging from relationships to fashion, making money, health, and careers.