“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” ~Elmore Leonard
Editing may well be one of the most difficult tasks for anyone. If we feel compelled to write something in the first place, we all seem to suffer from the illusion that more is better.
Be brave! Getting rid of unnecessary words and phrases will make you feel good – the way you feel after having a really big garage sale and can finally fit your car in the garage.
Ways to survive the editing process:
- · Approach your writing from the beginning with your audience in mind. This is a bit like method acting. Are you writing to a 30-something female audience? Become that person. What would they want to learn? Speak to their hopes, dreams, and emotions. Write to elicit a response from them.
- · Allow your readers some breathing room. Concise paragraphs with great descriptions will encourage them to think about what you have written, rather than remaining passive. Do you want them to be an active participant or unwilling passenger?
- · Find yourself staring blankly at your screen for more than a couple of minutes? Those words don’t write themselves. Walk away. Take a stroll, enjoy nature, work on an art project. Open the creative door, get some oxygen in your system, and often the words will flow again.
- · Print your article and re-read – as if you are speaking to your audience. Have you bored or confused yourself? If so, re-write.
- · Take heart – some people really feel as if they are facing amputation of a limb when they edit. If this is you, remind yourself that you always have the ability to write more later. With luck, you’ll live to write another article, so you don’t have to fit your entire life story in this one.
If you, like Elmore Leonard, try to leave out the parts that people will skip anyway, you will have a much better chance to reach your audience – and get them to act.