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M-EDIT-ATE: Tips on Finding Your “Zen” Place and Editing Your Own Work



Many of us who write – and also have jobs, school, families, hobbies, and other responsibilities – struggle with finding time for ourselves. So, when I suggest you find a quiet and solitary place to calmly reflect on your work (so you can read it out loud) instead you are probably laughing out loud and questioning my sanity.

There certainly is a place in writing for high energy, creativeness, and outside-the-box thinking, but when it comes to editing your own work, reflection and mindfulness are integral.

Here are a few tips on m-EDIT-ating on your own work:

First, go away – maybe meditate. Set your writing aside, so it appears “fresh” to you when you come back to it. This allows you to be your own “second pair of eyes.” Second, print your work. I highly recommend editing on the paper, not on the screen. We’re going for “Zen,” remember? When editing, read your work out loud. This is the best way to begin the process. If you stumble over certain word choices or sentence structures, then your reader will likely do the same. Take this solitary time to focus on this very important aspect of editing.

Third, use active voice, impactful prose, and less “fat” (less fat = fewer adverbs and adjectives). With my clients, I use the phrase “COMPACT has IMPACT,” and what I mean by that is: make sure your writing has lots of active voice structure to it, i.e., don’t say, “The ball was kicked.” But, do say, “Billy kicked the ball.” As far as trimming the fat goes, use fewer adverbs and adjectives in your writing – your readers need less “fat” than you realize.

Finally, if possible, ask a friend or colleague if they will read your work and then offer you some feedback. Not everyone is a grammarian, but often times friends and family present excellent editing advice.

[insert Mindfulness Bell sound here]



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