Time for part 5, our final installment! If you’re not familiar with this workshop, read the overview first. In this part, you’re going to review what you’ve written before you unleash it on the world.
I always wait a day or two before I re-read a piece; it lets me get into a different frame of mind so I can do a “fresh” read. I’ll sometimes catch some typos (although I’m admittedly terrible at doing so, usually), but more often I’ll run across an awkward phrase, or a sentence that doesn’t scan like I wanted it to, or something substantive like that.
I start by taking my original bullet list (from Part 2) and making sure I’ve hit all those points. If I didn’t, I revise.
I don’t do this as much now, since I’ve got 19-odd years of experience, but especially for short pieces I used to read them aloud. If something sounded stilted, or “off” somehow, I’d rewrite it. I don’t want my writing to sound formal or cold or standoffish; I want it to sound like me. Reading it aloud is the best way to see if it does that.
If there’s to be a formal edit of my piece, this is where I’d turn it into the editor. If not… it’s off to publishing.
Take a look at what you wrote in the last piece, with the above advice in mind. Do a revision pass or two, but leave it there: don’t get into an endless cycle of modifications. A published piece is useful; one in and endless loop of rewrites isn’t.
Hopefully, this little workshop has illustrated the process I use myself, and offered you a tip or two that you’ll find useful.
I’m super-biased toward the written word. While I acknowledge that it’s not a perfect form of communication, it’s one that’s served humanity better, and for longer, than anything else. I don’t know if we’ll be able to watch today’s digital videos a hundred years from now, but I’m betting we’ll still be able to read.
With that in mind, I hope you can find something to write about, and that you do it. Eventually (trust me), if you do it enough, you will be amazing at it (assuming you’re not already), and it’ll start to be a habit that you don’t want to break.