“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.
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
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,