When You Edit Your Writing, Here’s the First Thing to Change

It’s happening! You’re about to start editing!

You have a first draft, you’ve taken a break, and you’re ready to come back and tear this draft apart.

Now, it’s time to make some changes with step six:

Switch up the format and setting of your writing.

If you’ve been staring at the same few paragraphs, written in the same font, on the same computer screen, it can be harder to notice mistakes or to be critical of your word choice. Your eyes and your brain are accustomed to the writing, so making changes or finding errors is more difficult.

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Changing the way your writing looks, even if the content stays exactly the same, can help pull you out of this complacency. You can do this in many different ways:

  • Print out your draft and read/edit it on paper.
  • Look at your writing on a different screen. For example, if you’ve been writing on your laptop, open your draft on a tablet or mobile screen.
  • Change your document’s font, including size and color.
  • Edit your writing in a different room than the one you were writing in.
  • Break up your text in different ways, such as one paragraph per page.

Try any or all of these options, or make up your own. The important thing is to make your draft look different from the one you’ve been staring at.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels.com

This step pulls double duty.

As an editing step, changing the format of your writing offers a bit of a bonus. That’s because, in a pinch, it could be a substitute for the previous step if you have no time to take a substantial break before you start editing. The difference in format may be enough to “trick” your brain into thinking you’re looking at something fresh and new.

Keep in mind, though, this works best for shorter writing, like an email or a brief blog post, rather than a lengthy report or in-depth article. For longer pieces, you really want to give yourself at least a 24-hour break, if at all possible.

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