Rewriting/Self Editing

You will have your manuscript professionally edited ultimately, but you can do a lot yourself with time and distance to self-edit and then rewrite as needed. Work on a chapter, print it out, and read it in the context of the other work you’ve already done. Then move to another section and keep working back and forth until you feel as though you’ve done all you can.

How to Self Edit (as a self-editing checklist)

You will probably continue to add to and subtract from your manuscript for weeks. You’ll think of new things to say or things you’ve previously forgotten as you read and reread. You will decide you haven’t said enough about one topic but have gone into too much detail on another. So save that extra material for speaking engagements or another book or article.

If you have the time, put the manuscript away and work on other things for a month or more; then come back to it with new experiences and a fresh eye. One way to do this is to change the type and size and print it out so that it will look brand new to you. Read it at a place you don’t usually go to read so you do everything you can to read it as if you were reading it for the first time.

With distance, check to see whether you’ve told a story, the manuscript is balanced in terms of the numbers of stories and the way you’ve told them, the subject matter is compelling and interesting, and the writing pulls you forward so you want to keep reading.

Getting Perspective

If you have the time, put the manuscript away and work on other things for a month or more; then come back to it with new experiences and a fresh eye. With distance, check to see whether you’ve told the whole story, whether the manuscript is balanced in terms of the numbers of stories and the way you’ve told them, the subject matter is compelling and interesting, and the writing pulls you forward so you want to keep reading.

You easily could do this 20 to 50 times per chapter. Eventually you’ve done as much as you can do – you stop seeing it for what it really is.

Improving the Manuscript

As you write a first draft, your challenge is to fully put your most creative thoughts on paper. Once you’ve completed that part of the process, your next job will be to enhance those thoughts with facts, stories and other items to help your readers
understand and apply your ideas in their lives.

The self-edit process is the next part of the process where, by reading and focusing on a number of steps to improve the manuscript, you create more clarity, eliminate confusion and minimize distractions to making a connection with your reader around your core message.

It is at this point where creating a notebook with dividers for your changing manuscript will come in handy. You can work on a chapter, print it out, and read it in the context of the other work you’ve already done. You can then move to another section and keep working back and forth until you feel as though you’ve done all you can.

You will probably continue to add to and subtract from your manuscript for weeks. You’ll think of new things to say or things you’ve previously forgotten as you read and reread. You will decide you haven’t said enough about one topic but have gone into too much detail on another. You can save that extra material for speaking engagements or another book or article.

A third read through will focus on creating the strongest openings and conclusions for each section, chapter and for the entire book that you can.

The first sentence and the first paragraph of each chapter, but particularly the first chapter,
deserve extra time and work. You are setting the stage and mapping out the experience. Similarly, we have first impressions in the first few seconds after meeting someone new, so
the reader will probably form an impression of you and your book right away. Make it the one you want.

Common Writing Problems to Avoid

Even the most compelling writing and subject can fail if you let the small irritations get in the way of that connection with your reader.

These include:
POOR ORGANIZATION. Sometimes, people can’t follow an author’s line of reasoning or organization. The writer hasn’t created a beginning, middle, and end that anyone can understand. As a writer, you are taking your readers on a journey, so don’t lose
them.

PASSIVE VOICE. When an author lacks confidence in what she is saying or in her expertise, there is a tendency to write in passive voice: “”e boat was overturned” versus “I overturned the boat.” Passive voice is a legitimate writing tool, but authors employ it to avoid their own power. Used this way, it undermines the strength of the material.

LIMITED VOCABULARY. A book is a two-dimensional medium, so it is up to the writer to
deliver the words to paint a picture that becomes three-dimensional in the mind’s eye. “is is true even for a nonfiction book. If the words are trite or uninteresting, the book becomes forgettable. Poor sentence structure and grammar, misspellings, incorrect abbreviations and capitalization. If you make mistakes here, the reader may assume your ideas are in error too.

WRITING THAT ISN’T TIGHT. You may find that you ramble when you write a first draft, so then you go back and take out the extra words and shorten sentences. For example: “I’ve often thought that we should consider what we want out of life so we won’t make so many mistakes.” Translation: “Consider what you want from life to avoid mistakes.”

TRITE PHRASES. For example: “As I’ve always said….”. We don’t need to know what you’ve always said. Just tell us what you want us to know.

OVER-EMOTIONALISM. “e more clearly you can tell a story straight out and let the reader become emotional, the more effective the story will be to make your point. “at doesn’t mean you can’t use words to make a story poignant and meaningful; it just means you don’t tell the reader how to feel about the events. Tell how you feel only. A sign of this is when a writer uses exclamation points throughout his or her book. If you use more than
one exclamation point per chapter, you’ve probably used too many. Another amateur mistake is words with all capital letters, the written equivalent of
shouting. It is much more effective to talk softly.

QUOTING OR REFERRING TO OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS (EVEN EXPERTS) THROUGHOUT. Use quotes sparingly, and refer to other people’s books, seminars, opinions, and more, only a few times in the entire book. “is is your book, and although your thoughts are a result of so many other people’s input, you need to give your reader a reason to read your book instead of a compilation of other people’s thoughts.