Jeffrey Graessley lives in Southern California and his writing can be found across the internet and in various prints from small presses and multinational businesses across the globe. He currently works as a technical for an R&D tax firm while also publishing a small weekly blog. His blog, Content with the Technical, details his journey of mastery over this expanding, everchanging profession.
Live portfolio can be found here.
It’s a widely held misconception that strong writers are by default strong editors. This is simply not the case. In reality, a strong writer will make fewer mistakes and only create the appearance of a capable editor. It’d be wonderful if there was a 1:1 ratio for writing and editing skill improvements, but in fact we’ll need to learn and practice this with intention… just as we had to learn and practice everything else.
Let’s do that with a bit of direction! Here are 3 strategies for editing. The line-by-line approach!
3. Step Away:
Once we’ve finished an initial draft, the next step is to go through the document with line-by-line edits (huh, huh?), but before that starts— step away from the document for a few minutes, just a short break will suffice. We’ll just allow ourselves a few moments to clear the old noggin, consider stretching, answering a quick email, or any number of small, mundane tasks. Depending on the scope of the writing assignment, subject matter, and complexity of the information— this brief reprieve will make the difference between a successful process examination (like technical narratives and how-to guides) and another rewrite.
These quick mental break also offers the added benefit of changing our focus, we need to step out of the writing sphere and enter into the editing world. Focus and intention are major components for successful editing, just like successful writing!
- MIND MAPPING is an incredibly versatile strategy used by writers of technical and copy content to effectively document their research findings
- MEMORY LIMITATIONS positions three – four keywords in each bubble as ideal to increase mental retention rates and elasticity
- MEANINGFUL RESEARCH requires a working knowledge of the products such as website entries, product manuals, conversations with stakeholders and time
- EACH BULLET EXAMPLE takes from the keyword box entry and connects the features and benefits with contextual product additions
Start with Why (How Great Leaders Inspire Action)— Simon Sinek
I tell my wife she has never
bought a product,
flashing light and the top of her
head is my answer, she’s smiling
“look at this Amazon order list, sweetie.”
her phone holds what I assume
is the entire site’s product range, shaking
my head I smile back, the real toothy one
she says it makes me look like a deranged,
that’s had a few too many artisan coffees
I tell her we don’t buy items, no we respond
to stories and visions. these sales descriptions,
I say clicking links on her phone, are prophetic
“prophetic? what’s the prediction, I will have
this item? they will take my money?”
revenue is a market thing, a prime motivator
but not capable of talking to our stomachs
the part of the brain that gives us “gut” reactions
frowns follow my eyes, I keep smiling at her.
take this blanket, another clicked link—magic of digital
she reaches over and picks up the actual blanket
(it arrived yesterday) and presses the material
to her cheek.
“feel how soft this is,” she says, smile back, my Irish
flower, full-sun as the morning dew burns.
yes, it’s lovely, but you bought that soft story,
the blanket just happens to be the vehicle
that gets there.
I’ll prove it here, read this bullet copy:
ELEGANTLY STICHED, high thread count (fancy) cotton blanket will hold warmth and remain breathable ensuring fresh, restful comfort
you heard the story, listened
to your “gut” rumble, wanting
to believe and you did, I say
touching the blanket at her face.
we are all hungry for story, needing
a new blanket is a mundane reality,
but buying a story that walks us
along a journey to warmth and comfort
to a place of safety is remarkable,
a psychological thriller
with a great, simple ending.
she takes the blanket and throws it
over my head. “oh, look,
it does that too,” she says.
I hear it through teeth