How to self-edit your writing: 8 tips


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Learning how to self-edit your writing empowers you to polish your prose. Ernest Hemingway famously quipped that you should ‘write drunk and edit sober’. This might not be good advice for teetotallers (or in general). But there is a grain of truth in Hemingway’s words: you need a state of mental clarity that allows you to be methodical when editing. A professional editor who has polished many novels can turn your promising manuscript into a sleek novel. Yet if you can’t afford professional editing services at present, or want to tidy up your work before showing it to an editor, you can learn how to self-edit well. See the infographic below for top tips on editing your story:

How to self-edit - 8 top editing tips for fiction writers
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It often pays to read what published authors have to say on the nuts and bolts of writing. Here are three additional quotes to keep in mind when editing your own writing:

How to self-edit: Advice from great writers

1. Dr Seuss, author of much-loved children’s books, was a master of concision (packing as much meaning into as few words as possible):

‘So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.’

2. Popular novelist Jodi Picoult reminds us that it is useful to have different strategies for writing and editing. You don’t have to be meticulous when drafting, but you must be when you edit your writing:

‘You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.’

3. Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s songs are full of witty wordplay and pack complex emotions into brief musical numbers. He advocates not editing as you go but separating the writing and editing stages:

‘The worst thing you can do is censor yourself as the pencil hits the paper. You must not edit until you get it all on paper. If you can put everything down, stream-of-consciousness, you’ll do yourself a service.’


Great advice and tips from:


Author: Dennis Hickey

There are no limits to success to those who never stop learning. Learning will nourish your personal growth. I hope you enjoy this website and visit often so you keep learning and growing too!

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