How to Edit and Proofread Your Own Work Better

I find catching mistakes in my own work very easy. Sure, the occasional typo slips into a blog post, but mostly I manage to sweep them all out before I publish.

And I do it immediately after I’ve finished writing the first draft (usually).

I often advise other people to take a break from their work before they proofread it, because otherwise they’ll be too familiar with what’s on the page and their brain will just gloss over most of it because it already knows what to expect.

But that’s not advice I follow myself. Because I don’t need to. I almost always edit and proofread immediately after I’ve finished writing the first draft. Here’s how I do it:

My first drafts come out quickly. I don’t stop to ponder how best to phrase a sentence. I just get out my thoughts as quickly as possible. I’m thinking onto the page, basically.

Can you remember, coherently and in a structured way, what you were thinking even ten minutes ago? Five minutes ago? I’m betting not. You’ll have a vague idea, but you haven’t pored over every word and you couldn’t recite it back to someone. You haven’t tried to perfect it. No. You just thought it, and then it evaporated into the ether of your mind, never to be seen again in its original form.

And that’s what my writing is like. I don’t worry over every word. I just write. Whatever’s in my brain comes out. Sometimes I will jump about the page and slot things in between other things, but I won’t give it too much thought. Sometimes I’ll lay out the structure first and then fill in the blanks afterwards. Other times I’ll just write in a linear fashion, as I’m doing right now. I can’t remember what the first paragraph of this post says, and I only wrote it about three minutes ago.

So when I go back to edit it, and to proofread it (often the same thing when it comes to my own blog posts), I’ll be able to spot the mistakes easily and see what needs fixing, because my brain won’t gloss over it. My forgetful little brain already can’t remember what it wrote.

How can you accomplish such a thing?

You need to worry less. Stop editing as you write. Don’t overthink it. Just get the thoughts down. Then you can make it better – faster and more easily – without taking even a thirty minute break to let the words settle.

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