The normal progression of writing includes more steps then the casual reader can fathom. The first step of writing is the brainstorm process, which presents itself as procrastination. Then, the writer drains his thought onto some medium to formulate words. The words can drip like molasses, sucking an hour into a singular sentence. After some mess of words pile on the paper or screen, the writer re-reads, rearranges, deletes, adds, scratches, and punches the final product. That’s when he should take a break and wipe his forehead. He doesn’t do that. He edits the work by performing a spelling check on his word processor, and manually scanning his work for errors.
He submits his work to his editor, his college professor, or to his boss, and anxiously awaits kudos or a paycheck: some form of reward. The conclusion is oftentimes disappointing. Editorial comments or snarky red pen symbols boast the egregious number of errors he’s performed. He’s made a few spelling errors, typed the number “8” instead of spelling it, used the passive voice at the end of his third paragraph, and generally presented himself as an incompetent writer despite the fact that he knew not to do those things. How might he have avoided such a conclusion?
The Judgmental (Insert Expletive Here) Method
Carl Jung said “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” More irritating then the petty behaviors of others is the overt scrutiny of others of us. When one’s mother-in-law makes her caring observation that her daughter-in-law’s kitchen is in need of a nice good cleaning, irritation bubbles up through the drain of the overloaded sink. A boss might comment on his employee’s tendency to be at least 30 seconds late to work each week. A wife might be overly sensitive to her husband’s use of the non-existent word, “boughten,” much to his dismay. It hurts a little to hear criticism, and once in a while, a critic may be a little too overbearing and full of self-infatuation.
The self-infatuated, perfectionist critic is the one who can help you (yes, I’m including you now, so please don’t cringe at my voice change), edit your own work. Here’s how.
Write your article or paper, then save it.
Write a mean paragraph to yourself with ego-packed sentences such as, “I don’t know why it’s so hard to write something. Look what I wrote, and I bet you can’t find any errors. I’ve know what people and editors want, and I only wish it was as easy for everyone else as it is for me.”
Sign it from someone you know who would possibly say such garbage. You can use a specific person such as your spouse’s ex-wife, your current boss, an in-law, or your old high school bully. You can even use a famous person who makes the enamel of your teeth burn. It could be Nancy Grace, or Dr. Laura, or maybe not.
Prove to this person what a nitwit they are by editing the work (which you will totally know is your work, but the emotion will help you to be more objective in editing the work).
You’ll be surprised at the errors you’ve made. You’ll find dangling prepositions right in the beginning. You’ll find split-infinitives to positively drive you insane. You’ll find typos you never new an educated person could construct. You’ll find repetitive sentences, and a plethora of redundancies. One will find that he’s changed from third person to second person. You’ll find grammatical errors and superfluous sentences. At the end of it all, you’ll wonder why this schmuck even contemplated writing without your help.