Self-Editing: Two Articles That Might Light Up Your Rosy Light Bulb

First of all, welcome to my blog.

 I’ve blogged often in the last three years especially on group blogs and mostly I’ve shared writing tips and my notorious word lists. I’ll do some of the same here but since this is my personal author website, I’ll also talk my own writing process, my books, other books I enjoyed reading and from time to time, I’ll host some guest authors too.

Like the rest of my website right now, the blog is a work in progress, waiting for me to get my grove on.


photo credit: Nic's events via photopin cc

photo credit: Nic’s events via photopin cc

For this first blog I want to share two recent articles I read. One article has nothing at all to do with self-editing and yet clicked very nicely the Jami Gold’s article on the topic.

Jami Gold’s blog, Too Close? 5 Techniques to See Our Story Objectively, addresses tips to help writers self- edit their manuscripts objectively. Not an easy task when as Jamie pointed out, writers tend to read into the story what they know is “supposed” to be there.

“The author” knows what the character is dealing with emotionally. “The author” also knows the character’s motivations, the setting, the plot etc. But did he or she make it clear to the reader? And then there’s grammar and punctuation to deal with too.

The second article I read when my husband handed me a Wall Street Journal article called Read This As Slowly As You Can by Jeanne Whalen. Hubby thought I’d find it interesting. And I did, but for an entirely different reason. [If you’d like to read it, I found this same article on the Internet under the title: Read Slowly to Benefit Your Brain and Cut Stress ]

Jeanne Whalen’s main point is that due to social media and modern devices like tablets, we’ve become a world of “scanners.” With so much to read and so little time, we don’t always read for the pure relaxing pleasure of reading. We quick-scan for information. She suggested we return to our roots, sit down in a quiet place and actually read every word.

Well, a rosy light bulb went on in my head. Perhaps the developed habit of scanning is another reason why we miss things that should be edited! Scanning aids and abides our tendency to read into the manuscript what we know is supposed be there but isn’t.

MS Whalen listed the slow-reading benefits to readers but I think you’ll agree that some of them are beneficial to writers who are editing their work.

  • Deepens empathy – understanding mental states and beliefs of others, which aids in building relationships.
  • Heightens concentration
  • Enhances comprehension, particularly of complex material
  • Enriches vocabulary
  • Reduces Stress

If we combine the ideas of MS Whalen’s article with those of Jami Gold’s blog, especially the idea of reading the manuscript out loud, I think we’ll all find a winning combination.


Reading out loud forces us to “slow down” and concentrate on each word and hear the emotion/empathy in the words. If the emotion isn’t there, if we don’t feel that scene, then as writers we’re alerted to the problem and we can fix it.

Let’s look at Enhances vocabulary. We know what that means for the reader. For the writer this might mean, discovering if you’ve used active verbs verses lame verbs, as well as picturesque descriptions that add emotion, atmosphere and clarity of scene.

As for Reducing Stress . . . for the reader it’s relaxing to escape into the world of a book’s characters. It’s adventure without fear. For writers reading slowly and out loud makes the problems jump out at us instead of hiding behind that awful culprit, “what we know is supposed to be there.” I’d say that equals less editing stress. 🙂

What special things do you do to enhance your self-editing process?



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20 Responses to Self-Editing: Two Articles That Might Light Up Your Rosy Light Bulb

  1. Kathy Elbinger says:

    Great article, Sharla! For years I’ve tried to speed up my reading pace, but now I can slow it back down and know that reading slower is good for me!

    Good job on the website.


  2. Connie Flynn says:

    A Hi Five to you, Charla. This is great and I know it will be a success. You’ve already got links to great topics. I read a book called What the Internet is Doing to Your Brain that, while it did have some highly dry chapters, was very enlightening. I’m now working to heal my brain :-). Good luck with the blog, although I don’t think you’ll need much.

    Hugs from far away (well, not that far),


    • sharla says:

      Thanks Connie. I’ve read stuff too about what wearing a blue tooth device on our heads to access phones does. They say the study isn’t done but they can already see that the area around the brain where the device sits looks different. For sure I’m not wearing one. 🙂 And reading slow so that I enjoy every word or can find my own editing mistakes is fine by me.

  3. Red says:

    When in editing mode, I read aloud multiple times. Still, I miss things. Sometimes the missed things are so apparent it’s kind of embarrassing. Thank God for critique buddies!

    Great blog, Char! Love it! Very pretty too!

  4. sharla says:

    Thanks stopping by Red! I have a tendency to read into my work what I know is supposed to be there so reading out loud and slowly does help. If you can bushwhack someone into reading it to you, that’s even better! I used to make son read it to me. Alas I can’t do that any more and finding someone else is impossible. 🙂

  5. Lyn Horner says:

    Hey Shar, glad to see your site up and running. It looks terrific! Also a great article. Thanks for the links.

  6. sharla says:

    Thanks Lyn. I had lots of help as you well know. I’m not techie. 🙂 But I’m learning.

  7. Jenny Hansen says:

    Fantastic article, Sharla. Love the new digs!

  8. Darleen Speers says:

    Enjoyed your blog. I’ve been a fan of your word lists for years. I
    agree with the reading out loud. I’ve found it not only helps with
    voice, but pace. If I stop myself because something doesn’t sound
    right, I know I have to edit. And if the emotion isn’t there when
    reading out loud, it won’t be there at all. Thanks for your insight.
    Looking forward to more. 🙂

  9. sharla says:

    Thanks Darleen. I think you summed this up better than I did! 🙂

  10. Really helpful post Sharla!

    Starting your blog article, I skimmed the beginning, my normal blog reading mode, anxious to absorb what I could and then get onto editing my WIP. About halfway in, while reading your slow down advice, I did just that –slowed down my reading, which slowed down my thinking and made the whole experience much more informative and enjoyable.

    Thanks for the ideas.

    • sharla says:

      Thanks for stopping by Kristi. It’s not easy reading slow these days! I’m a big time scanner and I think all blog readers are. We scan for info first and then if it has something we are interested in, we go back and read with slower intent. 🙂 But that gets to be the habit with everything. I’m learning right along with the rest of you to slow down!

  11. Informative and helpful post, Sharla, esp. for an Indie like me. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Jami Gold says:

    Hi Sharla!

    Thanks for the shout out! 🙂

    And great point too about reading slowly. After you mentioned that, I realized that’s another thing I do when I self-edit. So great job on seeing that connection! LOL!

    • sharla says:

      Your welcome Jami. Your blogs are always very helpful. And after I read it, hubby handed me the article on reading slow. The reason for reading slow in the article was a different topic but it just clicked with your blog so well. 🙂

  13. Very great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing in your rss feed and I am hoping you write again very soon!

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