I have a secret recipe for editing magic, and lucky for you I am going to let you in on it. I was notorious for being terrible with grammar and editing. And for a long time, I let that hinder my creativity and productivity. I couldn’t get past the mean little voice in my head saying things like:
“You’re not a writer, have you seen your Facebook Posts, sloppy!”
“You still spell opinion wrong!”
“Seriously, you will never be a writer because your grammar is appalling.”
I’ve actually had people tell me I should be ashamed to call myself a writer because of grammar errors. Errors I’m happy to report I make less and less. But I didn’t let that stop me. I decided to stop letting those voices get to me and I came up with a recipe to sloooooooowwwww down my brain and get my editing under control.
I call it Before you Send, and here is the full scoop!
Easy enough, stop typing and shut it down. Don’t look it over. Just save and close out.
Step away from the keyboard for a long enough time that it will be fresh when you come back. I try and read a chapter or get up and do something else like a load of laundry or dishes. Something away from the keyboard.
End to Start
Here is the best way to catch those mistakes. Have you ever spent hours and hours editing a paper, reading and rereading until your eyes are about to bug out of your skull and then, gasp, horror of horrors, you still ended up missing a crucial comma or apostrophe? There’s a suprising reason for it.
The more you read your work from top to bottom, the more your brain is memorizing it. You read it with your voice in your head, using the flow you imagined while typing it. You know what it’s supposed to say so the more you go over it, the more you miss due to the memorization in your head.
Hence my bottoms up trick. Totally rewire your brain by starting from the bottom paragraph and reading it aloud sentence for sentence. Sounds monotonous and maybe you’re a gifted grammar prodigy. But this works for me.
After you’ve gone through it backward, then go back over it again from the beginning.
There you have it. My fool proof way to stop missing those silly mistakes. Perfect grammar doesn’t make you a good writer, but it’s a crucial part of the puzzle in creating good writing. Stop thinking of yourself as a bad editor, because then you’re just cementing it in your brain. Just slow down and try the Before you Send method. The more you write and the more you continue to rework your drafts, you’ll find that you can edit with the best of them.