It’s One of the Most Important Blog Copyediting Steps
Copyediting is a critical step for the blog writing process because it helps ensure you’ve taken an additional step to improve the quality of your work.
One of the best steps you can take for your blog — and your audience — during the writing process is to make time for copyediting.
If you’ve read this blog for any reasonable length of time, you know I’m a proponent of trying to get as far ahead of schedule as possible and then using an editorial calendar to manage your posting schedule.
Doing so gives you more time to plan what you’ll write about next, I’ve said. It also provides more opportunities to go back into posts and re-read them.
Way back in 2013, Professor Kenna Griffin wrote a post titled, “11 Steps for Editing Your Own Writing.” One of the early steps in the list, #3, really caught my eye: “Step away.”
“I like to let a piece rest overnight before I proofread it, but that’s not always possible,” she wrote.
Griffin gives an example of a block of text with numerous, obvious misspellings. But the text is surprisingly readable because the human eye can easily correct as it reads. Sometimes, we see a mistake but don’t see it.
We know what the writer meant and our eye just corrects and our brain comprehends despite the typos.
That’s especially true when you’re reading your own writing. You know what you meant to say, and it’s easy for your eyes to deceive you into reading that instead of what’s actually on the page.
The importance of being able to step away
Some writing jobs require pacing that makes it next to impossible to have the luxury of time. That’s true in the professional world and it’s true in the blogging world as well.
Part of what I do for a living involves copyediting. It’s easy to catch other people’s mistakes. It’s much more difficult to go back and catch your own. Again, it’s your brain playing tricks on you, magically replacing errors with what you surely meant to type.
When you start writing a post at 6 a.m. and your post deadline is 8 a.m., unless you write really well and really quickly, it’s going to be difficult to make time for quality control.
But when you’re able to write a post a few days in advance, you have plenty of time to go back and give it one more look before the scheduled publish time arrives.
And you’re more likely to catch errors because you’ve been able to clear your mind of the piece you were trying to write and look at it with a fresh pair of eyes.
I hate looking at an old post and finding a typo or a missing word. It drives me crazy. I wonder how I could have allowed it to happen. And I stress out about how long it’s been sitting there for the world to see.
Then it dawns on me: I probably didn’t step away long enough before doing that copyediting re-read at the time.
If you’re lucky, your readers, if they notice it, will be forgiving and may even point out the error delicately. But some readers aren’t forgiving at all. And a handful will be far from delicate. As much as the criticism stings, and no matter how much you argue that the tone might be unnecessary, you have to wonder whether the rudeness might, at least to some small degree, be deserved.
One of my goals this year is to get to a point where I’m at least four posts ahead of schedule. One of the reasons, of course, is to take off the deadline pressure. But another is to guarantee I have more time before the post goes up to prevent errors from getting to the surface.
It’s a step I think is worth it to make sure I’m posting useful information that’s free of the distraction of mistakes.