You know you’re fooling yourself, right?
Thinking you can draft and edit all at the same time? It’s like trying to drive a car and sail a boat simultaneously. They’re two completely different vehicles that require completely different strategies to operate. It’s the same thing when you’re writing.
Creating your draft ideas is different from playing with words during editing. We use separate parts of our brain to do each of them. Constantly switching gears out of draft mode to nit-pick over edit mode throws off your focus. It’ll take you forever to get your article done if you need the draft to be perfect.
Drafts are supposed to suck. Getting your ideas down on the screen deserves a good 50% of your effort. Then you’ll switch gears and dedicate the other half of your time to word play.
Here are some tips for editing your draft so that readers come to know you, like you, and want to buy from you.
“Write to express, not to impress.” (Gregory Ciotti)
1. Tighten your clarity.
Picture your writing as a journey you’re taking the reader on. Where do you want them to go? How do you want them to get there? Editing is all about clarifying your destination and defining the shortest route. Make sure the article says what it needs to say in the clearest way possible. If you drafted your post with a guaranteed formula, you’re already on the right track. Now it’s just a matter of making even more sure that you’re giving the reader exactly what they want. Review your article for all the major parts. Make sure you stuck to your point the whole way through. Specify what you mean, or leave it out.
2. Give it punch.
The goal of every paragraph is to make the reader feel compelled to go on to the next one. Here, you’ll want to focus on using power words. A power word says exactly what you mean in a specific and concrete way. These are words that you can see, hear, and measure with tangible evidence. Avoid abstracts and vague generalities. Drop the adverbs. Ignite your verbs and adjectives. Give the heave-ho to tired, overdone emphatics (really, very, just). Instead of “It’s very important to just intently listen really hard to people,” try “Listen to people.”
3. Edit for skimmers.
Clean it up, shave it down, clear things up. Shorten your paragraphs. Vary your sentence length. It doesn’t even have to be a complete sentence. Fragments work in blogs. People don’t read, they scan. Make sure you’re only saying what’s essential. After you write every single line, answer the question, “Why would they care?” If you’re not convinced that a line has value, your readers won’t care either. Only write the lines that people care about.
4. Make it about them.
You want your readers to engage with you. You have to strike a cord with them and not let go. Keep the focus on them, not you. This is difficult. Our experiences are personal and mean a lot to us. We tend to marry ourselves to our words and our story. Hang on to your story. But invite others in. Change “I” to “you.” Let them relate. Remember to draft in YOUR voice. But edit in THEIRS. [TWEET THAT]
5. Proofread for grammar and spelling.
This one’s a no-brainer. Be sure and give the final product a good once-over before you hit the publish key. While sentence fragments are okay to use, misspellings, made-up spellings, and trendy texting terms never are. Typos are distracting and make you look careless. You wrote an amazing article. Don’t blow it with typing errors.
You don’t have to be a famous, published author to write a riveting blog post. Capture your ideas, warts and all. Then sexy it up with your edits. Give yourself time to take your reader on a polished journey. Use powerful words that clarify where they want to go, and get them there quickly. Keep your readers engaged and feeling important all through the adventure. You’ll make friends out of total strangers. And better yet — customers!
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