Last week we talked about distancing yourself from your work in order to be able to edit with a fresh and critical eye: Self Editing Tip #1: Distancing yourself from your work. In addition to distancing yourself from your piece you need to be able to hear what the piece sounds like to other people.
No, you don’t have to go and round up neighbors to read your articles, all you have to do is read it out loud to yourself. Sounds a bit strange I know. The best thing about reading written work out loud is you are better able to get a feel of how the article flows. If you are reading your article out loud and you stumble over a spot or find yourself a bit confused with what the piece is trying to say, then most likely your audience will stumble or struggle at the same spot.
Hearing the piece out loud also allows for your ears to hear what is actually written on the page. Reading silently, our eyes can play tricks on us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve silently edited a piece and think a word says one thing when it actually says another. It is because my mind knows what should be there so it helpfully places it there and those silly eyes go right along with the trick. Saying the words out loud will allow your ears to catch those slips of the mind.
Finally, reading a piece out loud helps you figure out where there may be holes in the piece, where your wording may become a bit cliche’, where transitions falter or where information needs to be broken up and possibly bullet pointed.
Many writers voice their initial discomfort with reading their work aloud, but it’s really easy to get over, just remember you probably talk to yourself anyway, why not make it benefit your career!
This is essential for me and such a great tip to share with people. I tend to read my articles out loud to myself as I go through different drafts and it definitely helps me recognize, especially in longer pieces, if I’m repeating myself or if I have any awkward spots in my writing.
I like this tip and use it often. I also rely on voice software to read my drafts in different voices. One of my big failings is that I’ll get a word in my head and use it too often in a first draft. Having an opportunity to hear the piece spoken aloud can reveal lots of potential problems like that.
Colonel Marksman says
I never heard of these tips as of a few months ago. But upon using them (leaving the work and returning, and then reading aloud) I discovered I went from 60% without mistakes to 98.5% without mistakes. I started off with a 1 hour break doing something completely different specifically designed to take my mind off of it, and returning for quick read-through. Then I waited for the next day and read it aloud. Upon reading the work to my cousin (who often listens to what I have to read), we both discovered I didn’t have to re-edit anything at all; it was 100% correct, regardless of the number of times I read through it.
It wasn’t just correct though, it was also written the way I wanted it and was completely understandable.
Terreece Clarke says
I’m so glad these tips are working for you! Your feedback made my day. Thanks!