This post is part of the 📖 Everybody Writes series.
Today I am reading Chapter 13 of the book Everybody Writes written by Author Ann Handley.
Cross out the wrong words
“Writing is easy,” said Mark Twain. “All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”
The first draft feels more like pure ball-and-chain drudgery. The editing is where you get to make some merry.
There are two approaches to self-editing:
Developmental editing, which I call editing by chainsaw. Here’s where you look at the big picture.
Line editing, which I call editing by surgical tools. Here’s where you look at paragraph and sentence flow, word choice, usage, and so on.
Editing by chainsaw
State your key idea as clearly as you can near the start.
Slash anything that feels extraneous.
Make every paragraph earn its keep.
Make every sentence earn its keep.
Move things around.
Think of the sentences in a paragraph as a conversation between an elderly companionable couple.
Editing with surgical tools
Your focus is on words, not sentences.
Trim the bloat and fat. Are you potentially using far too many words to say things that might be said more concisely?
Shed the obvious.
Trim word bloat.
Ditch the adverbs
Ditch weakling verbs
Create a transition between paragraphs.
Start with Dear Mom
More often than not, writer’s block—or the reluctance to begin—is rooted in fear and anxiety about knowing where, exactly, to start.
You just have to start writing. A writing GPS can certainly help lubricate the start.
In a piece in the New Yorker, John McPhee suggests the trick of typing Dear Mother to neuter the fear of the blank page.
You could do that, or adapt it to Dear Dad, Hi hon, or Hey you.
If you’re a marketing or business writer, you can adapt that approach by thinking of your favourite customer—and not some nameless, faceless market segment.
Keep a real person you either know, or you can imagine knowing in mind—someone you like, too, because you want to help this person.
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Remove the text if it doesn’t support your main point.
Remove everything that distracts from the key point.
Adopt less is more mindset.
Create a flow between paragraphs.
Draw natural connections between paragraphs.
Frame your writing as a conversation with someone specific.
Fixing the grammar is copyediting (also important), but it’s more important to get the writing right first.
If you have writers, block then start by writing “Dear Mom” or Dear Dad” or someone you know, maybe your favourite customer or someone you like because you want to help this person.
If you read and understand the excellent practical and easy implementable material in this book, it will surely transform your writing and business alike.
What are you waiting? Go and buy and transform your writing for good forever.
Author(s): Ann Handley
Part 9 of 35 in the 📖 Everybody Writes book series.