Editing: Your Path to Divinity (and Divine Writing)

Prewriting ✓     Drafting ✓     Revising ✓

Don’t put down the red pen yet. Now, it’s time to edit.

Edit your writing!

Editing is messy work, but the results are worth it!

Wait, didn’t we just do that? No, we revised our writing. Revising and editing go hand-in-hand, but they focus on different results. While revising makes your work sound good, editing makes your work look good. In the world of writing, both are necessary.

We’ve heard it all before: spelling, punctuation and grammar are important. Blah, blah, blah… But before you file away this grade school knowledge, consider this: grammar, spelling and punctuation can be the difference between your writing being read or not. Why?

  1. Proper punctuation and structure help tell your story. New sentences, paragraph breaks and choosing a hyphen over a comma (or vice versa) help the reader navigate your road map to your point. Imagine trying to read a blog post with no punctuation — one long block of text with no signs where to pause, stop or anticipate a new idea.
  2. With every missing comma or spelling error, you’re asking your audience not to take you seriously. People are interested in what you have to say because they think you know what you’re talking about. But that’s only half the battle; presenting your knowledge is just as important as having it.
  3. Spelling, punctuation and grammar make you look polished, which is important if you’re trying to present a professional image. Stand out from the crowd in a positive way by dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s (and knowing the difference between a hyphen and a dash.

So the next time you’re in a rush and tempted to go straight from writing (step 2) to publishing (step 5), remember Stephen King’s words of wisdom. “To write is human, to edit is divine.”

Sound Off on Editing

What mistake do you always catch in editing?

Do you prefer to edit on screen or on paper?

Share your favorite editing advice below!

If you’re too busy with what you do, we’d love to help you edit your work. Contact us so we can discuss your writing-related project or answer your questions. We may not be all-knowing, but we are here to help. 🙂

Your Editor-in-Chief,
Jaime

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Revising: No Rules, Just (Get It) Right

You’ve tackled prewriting (in the forest or the bathtub) and burst through the drafting phase like a team taking the field. Whew, we’re done, right? No, now it’s time to revise.

Elmore Leonard quote on typewriter

Photo by plaisanter via CC BY-SA 2.0 // text & effect added by author

Revising is all about making your work sound right. So read it — to yourself or out loud. (This is where it helps to have some privacy, or you may receive some concerned stares.) Is it easy to read? Are you intrigued? If not, your reader won’t be either.

Now is the time to make your work POP. Spice up your opening line to grab the reader’s attention. Upgrade your word choices and fill in missing details. Remove redundant or empty words and move sentences around if they make more sense elsewhere. You may end up with a drastically different piece or even a shifted message.

As novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard points out above, the best writers aren’t bound by rules. However, they know the rules before they choose to break them, which is a far cry from not knowing the rules in the first place. If something you write is grammatically correct but sounds strange, find another way to say it. Sometimes I use fragments to make a point and fit the tempo of my work, but it’s not on accident. Bottom line: don’t quit revising until your work sounds right.

It can be tough to look at your work with a critical eye. Leave enough time between the drafting and revising phases to see your work in a new light. If you’re on a tight deadline, at least shift focus for a brief period before coming back to your writing in progress. If possible, invite colleagues or peers to review your work. It’s amazing what you can see from a fresh perspective.

p.s. Join us for part 4 of this series on the writing process on Thursday. It’s all about editing!

FREE Download –> The Power of the Pen: 5 Steps to Writing That Produces Results

Revising Review

Do you revise first, then edit? Or do you do them together?

How long does the revising phase take you (compared to the other parts of the process)?

Share your best revising tips for our readers!

Cheers,
Jaime

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Step 2: Now It’s Time To Write

If prewriting is the pregame strategy session, step two of the writing process — drafting or writing — is the mad rush onto the field. After all of the film watching and play designing and planning, it’s time to let it all out.

Wildcat Willie leads the Kansas State football team onto the field!

Step two of the writing process is a rush of adrenaline!
Photo by The U.S. Army via CC BY 2.0 // effects added by the author

draft·ing (verb): the second stage of the writing process during which a writer organizes information and ideas into sentences and paragraphs

You may be wondering why I’m using the term drafting instead of writing. I thought it would help avoid confusion because we’re discussing the entire writing process. But rest assured, we’re talking about the same thing. This is the phase where you try to type or write as fast as the words pour out of you, if you’ve done a good job of prewriting.

Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down.”  -John Steinbeck

This is the fun part, or at least the part where you start to see results. It’s like rolling that first stripe of paint on the wall after hours of prep work or taking the plunge out of an airplane after going through all of the pre-jump requirements. (I prefer the latter but I’m sure painting is just as exciting to some people!) This is the time to introduce your characters or describe the situation or state your points clearly.

This is not the time to worry about spelling, grammar, punctuation or overall structure. I’m not saying that you should leave them out on purpose, but these items will be addressed during the next two steps (revising and editing). If you tend to correct grammatical errors or typos without thinking about it, don’t worry. Some of us are just hardwired that way (including yours truly). It will slow you down if you attempt to not correct these errors at this time.

One of the reasons that I love writing is that you can do it almost anywhere. All you need is a computer, typewriter or pen and paper AND some privacy. How much privacy? That depends on you. Some people want a room with a door they can shut. Others don’t mind light background noise: quiet conversations on a cafe patio, the soothing tones of the ocean or the peaceful sounds of nature.

“Like your bedroom, your writing room should be private, a place where you go to dream… The space can be humble, and it really needs only one thing: a door you are willing to shut.”  -Stephen King

Privacy can be hard to find in today’s corporate America environments. If you’re sitting in a cubicle in the middle of an open concept floor plan, surrounded by talking co-workers, music piped through overhead speakers and other office noises, it can be tough to write — for anyone. Don’t discredit your ability to write if you have issues in this type of environment. Try to find anywhere quiet — an open conference room, a forgotten nook or a local park during your lunch break. It’s frustrating, but you may have to take your writing assignments home in order to produce quality work.

And if you’re into writing by hand (like a certain author of this blog)? Don’t be embarrassed or feel old-fashioned. It turns out that it’s good for your brain.

FREE Download –> The Power of the Pen: 5 Steps to Writing That Produces Results

Feedback on This Draft

Where’s your favorite place to write?

Who’s your favorite writer?

What’s your favorite written piece — by you or someone else?

Chime in with any other thoughts on the drafting (or writing) phase of the writing process.

If you have any writing-related questions, please ask. Or we can handle all of your writing needs so you can focus on saving the world before bedtime (or the big game).

Cheers,
Jaime

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Prewriting: A Precursor To Rad Writing

As I was writing my last post about the importance of revising and editing your work, it dawned on me that many people who are required to write today (blogs, social media, company newsletters, etc.) may not have much experience with the writing process. So I decided to blog about it to explain each step’s importance and throw in some insight along the way.

pre·writ·ing (noun): the creation and arrangement of ideas before writing; step one of the writing process

Do you free write?

Free writing — and espresso — help me get the creative juices flowing.


Think before you write
. Whether you jot down a brief outline in your notebook, draw comprehensive diagrams or kick around a few ideas in your head, you’re performing the first step in the writing process. You may think prewriting is prehistoric (3rd grade, anyone?), but let’s compare. Any professional painter will tell you to spend at least as much time preparing to paint as painting itself. Otherwise, you won’t see professional results.

The same holds true for writing. If you want to write something worth reading, take the time to prepare. Your prep work will reflect the scope of your project (novel vs. blog post) and your comfort level. Some people are comfortable mentally prepping before blogging while others will want a more detailed outline in print. Either way works, as long as it works for you.

The prewriting part of the process may not occur behind a desk or even soaking up the rays on a patio with your laptop. In fact, physical activity is a great way to spur ideas and think about what you want to write. Or maybe you prefer a luxurious bubble bath with a good book or chatting with a friend over coffee. It doesn’t matter where the light bulb goes off, as long as it does. (I like confiding in a pink fuzzy tennis ball, but that’s just me.)

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you’ve got something to say.”  -F. Scott Fitzgerald

And prewriting is the time to figure out that something, not the writing phase.

FREE Download –> The Power of the Pen: 5 Steps to Writing That Produces Results

Post Script to Prewriting

Do you prewrite?

How do you prewrite (mentally, outlining, diagramming, etc.)?

Anything you’d like to add about the prewriting process?

If you have any writing-related questions, please ask. Or we can handle all of your writing needs so you can focus on saving the world before bedtime.

Cheers,
Jaime

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The Power of the (Red) Pen

“To write is human, to edit is divine.”  -Stephen King

When I was in school, there was nothing I hated more than the red pen. Teachers would use it to correct mistakes on your paper and make suggestions. As a perfectionist, I attributed any red marks to failure, which was not high on my to-do list. As much as I hated the red pen, I now understand its importance.

Revise, revise, revise!

Maybe I still haven’t gotten over the sting of the red pen in school. I use black, even for revisions.

The basic writing process has five steps: prewriting (thinking/outlining), writing, revising (rewriting), editing and publishing. Did you notice that 40% of the writing process is dedicated to revising and editing? That’s why, in my humble opinion, it’s the most important aspect of writing. All of the steps are necessary, but not doing a proper job of revising and editing your work will turn readers away. Have you ever read an article that goes on forever — well past its point? Or a blog post saddled with poor grammar and spelling errors? It’s enough to make me walk away.

“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.” -Stephen King

What makes me want to read your work (and others too)?

  • Revise, revise and revise some more. Eliminate unnecessary words.
  • Strong punctuation and grammar. A lack of one or both makes reading difficult.
  • White space (especially on screen). Use short paragraphs, quotes, images and lists for easier reading.
  • Reduce your adverb dependency. These suckers lead to passive writing and empty word use.
  • A clear point. What are you trying to say?

“The biggest illusion about communication is that it’s taking place.”  -George Bernard Shaw

Yes, rules are made to be broken, but you have to know the rules first. The more that you know (and follow) the “rules” of writing, the easier your writing will be to read. So what are these rules? They differ depending on who you talk to or what you’re writing, but Mr. King’s Top 20 Rules For Writers are a great place to start.

More people are expected to write today than ever before (social media, blogging, etc.), and some just aren’t comfortable with it. I hope this post and upcoming series on the writing process will help. (p.s. Fellow writers, feel free to chime in along the way!)

Of course, I love writing. If you don’t, let me know. I’d be happy to help.

FREE Download –> The Power of the Pen: 5 Steps to Writing That Produces Results

Reader Feedback

What are your most important rules of writing?

Is there a rule that you routinely break?

When did you start writing?

Who’s your favorite writer?

A writer at heart,
Jaime

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Facebook

Facebook is the biggest, baddest social platform on the planet. We’ve all heard the statistics: if Facebook were a country, it would have the third-highest population in the world, behind China and India. An average of 864 million people log in to the site daily. But what about the things you don’t know?

DYK? Facebook is the world's largest photo archive.

You may be surprised to discover the following:

Privacy Basics – For a company who’s been blasted for its privacy issues (deservedly so), Facebook has taken serious steps in the right direction. Privacy Basics makes it easy to know what others can see about you and how others can interact with you. Click on the padlock on the toolbar at the top of the Facebook site to run a quick Privacy Checkup or adjust settings.

Facebook's Privacy Checkup

Related reading: Online Marketing & Your Privacy: Can They Coexist?


Advertising Controls
 – Yes, the social behemoth has advertising, which you may love as a marketer or business professional and hate as a user. You can’t get rid of the ads, but you do have a say in what ads you see — which is good for advertisers and consumers. As a business advertising on Facebook, don’t you want those who are actually interested in your products and services seeing your ads? Learn more about how ads work on Facebook, including what control you have over the ads you see, here.

Long Term Outlook – While the social giant is constantly tweaking its features, several of Facebook’s moves in 2014 appear to be geared toward improving its offerings down the road. Virtual reality and drones for Internet access may not show up this year, but they do carry major implications for life and business in the (not-so-distant?) future. Who knows? We may train, work and play via virtual reality by Facebook in a decade or so.

Emoticons for Facebook

Emoticons – Considering that the word of the year in 2014 wasn’t even a word, we all need to understand the power of emoticons, even — gasp! — for business. Did you know you can use emoticons on Facebook via a laptop or desktop? Oh, and they’re free. 😉

File-Sharing Platform – Collaborating with long distance co-workers on a project? Share files privately via Facebook Messenger. Once you have a chat window open, just click on the Settings icon at the top (the gear), and choose Add Files from the drop-down menu. Quick and easy!

What’s your favorite little-known Facebook feature?

Which of the five items mentioned excite you the most?

If you haven’t connected with CCC on Facebook, join us! We love to share tidbits about marketing (including social media and writing), while having fun and holding giveaways too.

Your favorite Facebook page administrator,
Jaime

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Je Suis Charlie: Why This Attack Felt Personal

I was supposed to write about Facebook today, but I don’t have it in me.

Je Suis Charlie

Yesterday, a French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, was attacked and twelve people were killed — ten journalists, including four well-known cartoonists, and two police officers. More senseless violence in a world that seems filled with it.

Until yesterday, I had never heard of Charlie Hebdo. I didn’t know any of the people who were killed, and I am not French nor have I ever stepped foot in the country. I have compassion for those affected, as I always do when senseless tragedies occur.

“They were cartoonists and editors and humorists. People whose job in life was to point at hypocrisy and laugh at it; to ridicule hate; to make us all try to see our own failings as humans. And they were killed for it.”  -Joe Randazzo, former editor of The Onion

Beyond that, this attack felt personal. Why? I am a writer. I’m not famous, and I have yet to publish a novel. But I use words to make a living — to give brands a voice, to convey meaning to audiences, to evoke emotion and encourage action. I feel a connection to other writers, no matter their success, and all artists: painters, cartoonists and creators of all kinds.

When I see the hashtag, #JeSuisCharlie, trending worldwide, it evokes a mixture of emotions in me. Sadness, for those involved and affected by this madness. Pride, at the unity and compassion shared by so many people around the world. Hope, that people understand the importance of ideas and expression and freedom of the press.

“You cannot kill an idea by murdering innocent people — though you can nudge it toward suicide.” -Joe Randazzo

Charlie Hebdo understands the need for hope. Despite heavy hearts and some fear, the newspaper will go to press next week. As columnist Patrick Pelloux noted, this decision shows that “stupidity will not win.” While next week’s publication will be half its usual length, the newspaper will print one million copies instead of its traditional run of 60,000.

This is what I ask: buy a copy if you can. Support Charlie Hebdo and other newspapers, publications and artists who support freedom of ideas and expression. If you’re an artist of any kind, continue to create art, because this world needs more art and less violence more than ever now. And remember the friends and families and loved ones of those who were killed, because their world has changed forever.

Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier, editor

Jean “Cabu” Cabut, cartoonist

Georges “Wolin” Wolinski, cartoonist

Bernard “Tignous” Verlhac, cartoonist

Phillipe Honore, cartoonist

Bernard Maris, economist

Elsa Cayat, psychoanalyst and columnist

Mustapha Ourrad, copy editor

Michel Renaud, visitor

Frederic Boisseau, caretaker

Ahmed Merabet, policeman

Brigadier Franck Brinsolaro, police bodyguard

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”  -Edward Bulwer-Lytton, English author

Raising my pen in solidarity,
Jaime