Regrettably, the world lacks a mystic vitamin to boost writer’s brilliance and make writing easy. This omission leaves each writer accountable to present clear prose that simply follows a thoughtful course. Remembering that, while we primarily write for ourselves, we also write for the reader and we don’t want them lost in a puzzle of words. Reading should be a pleasure.
William Zinsser states in his book, On Writing Well, “the secret to good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.” As heartless as this sounds, it is a service to the reader to prune some of those beloved words, phrases, adverbs or adjectives to strip away clutter. Sincere editing by the writer benefits the reader. Clarity rather than style earns attention and deflects boredom. Writers that edit well, develop an awareness of how the reader hears the words and learn style by eliminating the debris of distracting words.
Editing can feel like amputating a thought, but it is elemental to convey clear meaning and polished writing to the reader. Most writers edit as they write. Others edit after writing. These efforts are valuable to clarify the writer’s ideas, but are only the first stages of an editing process.
Step two, has the writer printing out this “first edition” and leaving it untouched on the desk for a few days. Read this copy again on day three; amazing how this edited version can achieve focus shedding a few more unnecessary words. Now read it aloud, edit again. Read it aloud to a significant other, take suggestions and edit. Share it with your writers group and edit yet again. At this point, six edits in, clarity has blossomed. As a thoughtful writer, you are confident your piece is award worthy or exhausted by its presence. Submit that writing for publication and now, the professional editing begins.