Batting and bowling are both essential to the game of cricket, right?
There are also very few truly great all-rounders who are exceptional at both.
So, why is that?
Being good at one doesn’t necessarily make you good at the other.
The same applies to creating great content for your practice!
Writing and editing are separate skills.
If you’re capable of creating something from a blank page, we absolutely recommend trying to find (and consistently) a good editor who can elevate your content.
Full disclosure: I do this too, one of my team members edits all of these articles for me!
But let’s say you don’t have an editor—or maybe you do, but there isn’t time to pass it to them before publishing.
What can you do yourself?
Here are our top 3 hacks for steering your red pen:
#1 – Outline, outline, outline.
This is one of those “ounce of prevention, pound of cure” type of suggestions.
An outline—even a very simple one—can do SO MUCH to focus your writing and to keep you from getting lost.
Because that’s what happens way too often: you march into the proverbial woods confident you know where you’re going, but then you get lost somewhere in the middle and the copy meanders even if you wind up in the right place.
Maybe you’ve already started writing, or you even have a completed draft. That’s fine. Outline it anyway.
You can outline what you already have, you can outline the idea from scratch without looking, or you can do both and compare them (but if you do both, do the from-scratch outline first).
We know: it seems like boring classwork. Thank us later.
#2 – Use a writing-improvement app like Grammarly or Hemingway
These are a little different since they’re not just trying to catch simple spelling and grammar errors; they’re also trying to help you sharpen the style of your writing.
As with anything AI-powered, take the suggestions with a grain of salt… but do take them, or at least try them out if they sound remotely helpful to you.
(They’re both free.)
#3 – Cut, cut and cut some more
If you know only three words from Strunk & White, they should be: “omit needless words”.
99% of the time, anything you’ve written will be better once you cut stuff out of it. This sounds a bit counter-intuitive, on the logic that “I had a reason for writing all of that stuff” — but to readers, most of that stuff is noise getting in the way of the main idea.
The goal is not, strictly speaking, to drop your word count as low as possible when you’re looking for things to cut. Instead, ask yourself two questions while you review your work:
(1) Can I remove this word, clause, sentence, or whole section without damaging my main idea?
(2) How can I make this clearer, simpler, or straighter to the point?
We would love to hear how you go trying out these hacks!
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.