One of the best pieces of advice that I was given about writing articles was to never to publish (or send off to an editor!) an article the day that you have written it! This is advice that applies to conventional articles as well as Internet Posts and articles.
Because an article always needs rechecking to ensure that it works as well as you think it does. You may think that what you have written is perfect but this is very rarely the case immediately after it has been finished – irrespective of how many times you have checked what you have written.
In truth, the eyes and the brain tend to play tricks on any writer, however experienced. You can find yourself checking and rechecking what you have written, as you write, but what happens is that you tend to see what you want to see – rather than what you have actually written. This can conceal some really outstanding bloomers and not just stupid literals! Often you will not notice that your ‘argument’ has gone off course or that some of your sentences have a mangled construction that is truly horrible.
The answer, I am afraid, is always to walk away from what you have written and come back to the article completely fresh – and in ‘walking away’ I do not mean just go for a cup of coffee and a wander around the garden!
Ideally, leave any article that you have written alone for a day and then look at it again. You will, invariably, be amazed by the mistakes that you have made and the terrific opportunities for improving the article.
The other important insight common to all professional writers is that you cannot edit your own writing!
Well, of course, most writers end up having to edit their own articles before they are published or sent off to an editor, for want of anyone else to do it for them. We all suffer this problem and try to minimise mistakes though the ‘walk away and look again’ tactic once an article is written.
However, as I say in my book The Laptop Entrepreneur, realise that if something is really important then you will need to get someone literate (and robust in their opinions) to check your article carefully. This is the only way that you can really be sure that what you have written makes sense, is not flawed and has no silly literal errors – all of which are easy to miss.
Finally, never forget that your reputation is permanently intertwined within anything that you write that has your signature on it. Anything less than excellent will rebound upon you and silly mistakes (even literals) can destroy your credibility and that of what you have written – even if all the facts are correct and your argument persuasive!
Nick Snelling is co-author of The Laptop Entrepreneur available in Print or as a book on Kindle or e-book: the book that shows you how to make a living on the Internet. Nick is also the author of five books, a copy writer and runs Culture Spain an authority site about ‘all things Spanish’.
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