Writing is easy. It’s re-writing that’s hard.
If you define “writing” as putting words to paper, and “re-writing” as reworking the words so that they make the most sense, then good writing is good re-writing. Sometimes people ask me how long it takes to write an article. That’s difficult to answer. Researching a short magazine article may eat up 12 hours. Banging out the first draft might take one or two hours. After that, who knows? I might re-write the thing four times, spending many hours shuffling text around, deleting some paragraphs and expanding others.
Even if you’re not a professional writer, if you are responsible for producing any written materials, it’s worth polishing your editing skills. Try these simple steps:
1. Review your reason for writing in the first place, then answer this question: Have I met my goal and will the reader be satisfied? If not, re-write!
2. Omit needless words. Yes, there are excess words there. You can find them if you look. Do you use terms like “on account of the fact that” or “at this point in time”?
3. Cut redundancies. Do you make your point more than once? Why? Once you’ve made the point, move on to the next one.
4. Do the sentences and paragraphs follow each other logically? If not, move things around. This is the beauty of writing with a PC; you can move your ending to the top, and still save your old version just in case you change your mind.
5. Vary your sentence length and try reading your copy aloud. How does it sound? If all your sentences are about the same length, your copy is probably monotonous. (You don’t want to put your readers to sleep unless you’re writing bedtime stories.)
6. Check for spelling errors. Even if you’ve already used a spell-checker, run it again. Sometimes you inadvertently introduce errors during editing.
When in doubt about spelling or grammar, look it up! Every writer needs a good dictionary and style book.