The 5 Things YOU MUST DO Before Publishing Your Post

In my opinion, the most satisfying part of writing an article or blog post is not the actual act of writing. For me, writing is a lot like a tough workout. It’s uncomfortable and messy. I sweat a lot. I tend to drop a few eff bombs here and there. I sometimes wonder why I do this to myself.

My favorite part of writing takes place when the work is done. I relish the simple task of hitting the “send” or “publish” button. It puts butterflies in my stomach and makes me feel accomplished. There are few feelings in life that are comparable to those I experience when I’ve finished an article or post.

But it’s important to note that there’s much to be done once that closing period has been typed. And it’s the post-writing process that is often neglected by so many people with amazing ideas.

 

While it’s tempting to publish your post once you’ve finished writing, I’ve got one thing to say:

STOP!

You see, the most crucial part of the writing process actually takes place after the writing process is finished. Hemingway once said that he rewrote the last page of Farewell to Arms 39 times before he was satisfied with it. John Irving, author of The Cider House Rules and The World According to Garp, says that he spends as much as two-thirds of his time editing and rewriting his material.

While you may not be looking to write the next great American novel, you do want to connect with your audience. The most effective writers present great content that is tightly written and as free of mistakes as possible. Mistakes may give readers the impression that you are sloppy and lazy.

Mistakes are disruptive and take readers out of the “zone.”

Today’s reader doesn’t want to take the time to figure out what you’re trying to tell her. Instead, she’ll probably bounce from your post in favor of content that doesn’t require her to do all the heavy lifting.

To help you always put your best material forward, I’ve put together a five-point checklist that you can use before you share your message with your readers. This works for all types of writing, from text messages (I’m sure you’ve seen the multitude of posts about auto correct fails) to emails to articles for the New Yorker.

Here goes.

  1. Spell check. Using spell check seems simple enough, but I’ve edited numerous manuscripts where even the simplest of spelling and grammar mistakes were made. I’ve fallen victim to this myself. So the first thing I do is click “spell check” to uncover any glaring mistakes. However, spell check is not fool proof, which leads me to step 2 . . .
  2. Line check. Grab a piece of paper and place the top edge underneath the first line so that the rest of your content is hidden. Then slowly read each word, working your way down the post line-by-line. Look for errors that spell check didn’t pick up. For instance, have you used the appropriate version of “their, they’re,” or “there?” What about “its” and “it’s?” Don’t think globally at this point. Just focus on one line at a time.
  3. Read aloud. There are many benefits to reading your work aloud. First, it forces you to slow down which helps your brain notice mistakes that are overlooked during silent reads. Second, you clue in to when you veer from your personal style. For instance, are you more likely to say “you’re” instead of “you are” when talking to a friend? The latter works well in literature, but it’s rare that people actually speak this way during friendly conversation. Finally, reading aloud alerts you to run-on sentences or phrases that don’t make sense. A simple rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t sound right, it isn’t right.
  4. Cut the crap. Always keep in mind that your reader is busy and has a long list of things she can be doing instead of reading your blog. She doesn’t have time for flowery descriptions or endless exposition. Get rid of anything that doesn’t move your post along. Another helpful tip I learned from one of the best editors in the business is to keep sentences short. Aim for 15 words or less. This may not always be possible, but it will help you cut unnecessary words. In Cold Blood author Truman Capote says, “I’m all for scissors. I believe more in scissors than I do in the pencil.”
  5. Walk away. The final–and maybe most difficult–step is to walk away. Go for a stroll. Take a nap. Put some space between you and your post so that it has an opportunity to simmer in the back of your mind. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve posted something I thought was brilliant only to come up with an even better idea hours later. However, I limit myself 24 hours before I cut the cord; otherwise, I’d never publish a single word.

Spelling or grammar mistakes may not completely discredit your authority, but it does make it more difficult for your readers to understand what you’re trying to say. Don’t let these mistakes get in the way of your ability to share your amazing insights with the world.

Do you have other steps that you use to improve your work? I want to hear about it. Post them below or on the Fit Scribe Media Facebook page.

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