Read What You Write

Jerry Springer. Everyone knows the name though no one will admit to watching the show. It’s been on for decades and yet the show’s host, Jerry Springer, admits he doesn’t watch it. Why? In an article published on the Huffington Post, the talk show host said “I don’t watch the show, but it’s not aimed at 66-year-old men. If I were in college, I would watch. I enjoy doing it. It’s a lot of fun.”

I’d wager there are several (hundred) writers that don’t read what they write. Whether it is a blog post, column or article, many writers finish the piece, edit it, send it and forget it. Those that do miss an important opportunity to grow. I know, because I used to be one of them.

It seems ridiculous to spend so much time on something only to abandon it once it has been published. In my mind I was staying on the fast track – write the piece and hit the next project. The opportunity to learn from myself was lost.

When you reread your own work after it has been published you get to see things you have done well and you also see areas where you can improve. Self-assessment is an important step to growing as a writer. This self-assessment, however, must be tempered by reality. I know writers who agonize over every missed turn of phrase or comma and completely by-pass what worked well in the article.

You’ll always be able to find something you could have done better. What you want to find are the trends that affect your writing. Are your conclusions consistently weak? Do you have trouble with transitions? Are you following a staid writing pattern: paragraph, quote, fact, paragraph, quote…?

Identify your success patterns and the patterns that are in need of improvement. Pay closer attention to these patterns when you write your next piece. If you apply what you learn about yourself consistently, you’ll become a better writer and a better editor. Read what you write. You may just be surprised.

Do you read your own work? Are you consistent or sporadic?


5 responses
  1. John Soares Avatar

    Terreece, I definitely read my own work, usually three or more times, before I let it be published. And I also read it again after it’s published.

    With our own blogs we can of course make any changes we want, even after we’ve hit the Publish button.

    With works in actual print, it’s a done deal. I occasionally cringe when I read my first book, which came out in 1992. I can see how green I was and how I was still searching for my own writing style.

    1. Terreece Clarke Avatar

      John, thanks! Yes I have looked over a few first articles and was embarrassed for me. heheehe! I have to tell you there are days when I’m a bit down and wonder if I’m doing the right thing and then I start reading through what I’ve done and it always cheers me up!

      You never know where you are going until you look at where you’ve been.

  2. Chris Avatar

    I read what I wrote sometimes, but sometimes it’s hard to track it down. Since I write a lot for SEO companies, the articles get distributed to God knows where. However, the blogs I write and magazine articles I reread. And I definitely go back and read web copy I write to decide what I do well and what I need to improve on.

    1. Terreece M. Clarke Avatar

      Finding your weak spots is important, I’m a poor closer. I have come a long way, but I have to be mindful that I can suddenly just…

      …drop off the end of an article LOL! I only figured that out by reading my work & seeing where the ending needed cleaning up or when an editor fixed it up for me.

  3. Damaria Senne Avatar

    I’m like John. sometimes I read my old material, and I can’t believe how green I was. It shows me how much I’ve grown. But it also gives me the motivation to carry on, to try to improve. And old articles also give me ideas for new pieces; either rewritten, reslanted for other markets or updated with new information.

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