As an entrepreneur, you don’t often have the luxury of having an editor review your writing. This could lead to costly mistakes, which hurt your image in the eyes of your ideal client. We word geeks cringe at seeing the wrong tense of a word or a substitution of “their” for “there” in the most inopportune spot. Language and grammar may be the tipping point in a client’s decision to not hire you as errors scream of carelessness. And if they think you are that careless with your own work, they may wonder if you really trustworthy for their project?
But not to fear, there are some simple ways to catch the most egregious of mistakes with some common sense tips and techniques that won’t cost you a dime – maybe a cup of coffee (or a box of Girl Scout’s Thin Mints) or a special little favor to a loved one!
First things First, Write then Edit
Whoa, Nelly! Let’s not put the cart before the horse, cowgirl. Unleash all your creativity onto that page (or screen) and filter through it later. Don’t stifle your creativity in deference to the grammar police. The best ideas often percolate from a stream of consciousness, so let it ride and worry about the editorial process later.
Go Away – Refresh, Exercise or Do the Deed – Whatever Floats Your Boat
In the words of Chicago, “Everybody needs a little time away.” When you spend a lot of time writing, your brain can just outright hurt, especially when you’ve been pecking at the keyboard for hours on end. Like a computer with programs running in the background, this will drain your battery. The best way to refresh is to go do something completely different. Go food shopping, take a walk in the park, or ask your partner for a little TLC. You’ll be surprised how cleaning out that haze can do creative wonders.
Perspective is Everything
Cue another Chicago musical interlude, “Look away, baby, look away. Don’t look at me. I don’t want you to see me this way.” Even the most talented writers can’t see past the words on the page when they are examining their own work. You read and re-read the same sentence over and over again only to keep missing the same error because your brain somehow sees what it wants. If you can swing it, come back to it in a few days. (At a minimum, a few hours between writing and editing is ideal.) You may have some new ideas to mix in by then.
Read Aloud (In Your Indoor Voice)
Reading out loud may evoke fond memories of Sesame Street and sitting Indian style (is that still politically correct?) in a semi-circle, but read your material aloud to yourself. Hearing your own voice utter the words you’ve written will open up the mind and determine if what you have truly sucks or not. You may be surprised by how many errors you catch or discover where you’ve missed words or selected the wrong ones altogether.
Fact Check – Alternative Facts
Without getting political, it is important to check those facts, especially the alternative ones. Double check specifics and use Google as your friend. Remember that everything on the internet isn’t true – please, contain your shock – but it can help catch a wrong date or numerical figure.
Consistent Wording and Voice
Who are you speaking to and are they addressed accordingly? Are you referring to your peeps as clients or customers? Stick to one for consistency. Are you speaking in the third person about your business? If so, adhere to that format and don’t bounce around.
Hey Baby, Take a Peek at This
It doesn’t hurt to ask for help. In fact, it’s preferable. Ask a spouse, partner, or even your kid to take a quick look. They may pick up something that you’ve glanced over countless times. This also acts as a big confidence booster for them and helps them feel as if they are contributing to your work. Kill two birds with one stone by building relationships and letting them help you to your next big pay day.
Spell and Grammar Check – Not Necessarily your Best Friend
Just because Word says it’s ok, or that annoying green line isn’t under your sentence, doesn’t mean it’s correct. Go on and keep hitting that “ignore once”- sure, that will make it all better – not! Again, read aloud and get some outside help if possible. You may have a word spelled correctly – on accident – but it wasn’t the word you intended to use at all.
Do you have any tips to share? Please let us know what works for you. We’re all in this together and want to help each other put our best foot forward. Editing, particularly of your own work, takes practice but is by no means an impossible task. Want some professional help? We thought you’d never ask! Schedule a time to chat about your project!