Why editing your writing will make it more powerful

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One of the things I’ve learned over the past 20 years or more is how to be reasonably objective when it comes to what I’ve written.  It’s not easy to distance yourself from ‘your baby’.  When you create something, you put a lot of effort into it and make it the best you can.  But, like it or not, part of making it the best it can be is to distance yourself from it and objectively assess – not whether it’s a great piece of writing – but whether it’s doing the job you want it to do.

Once you’ve finished writing, leave it stand for a day if possible.  Then go back and ask yourself these questions:

  1. is there anyway I can shorten this without losing the essence of the piece?  Can I use one word to replace two or three?  Can I cut out the ‘fluff’ and still keep the ‘feeling’?
  2. would someone in Grade 6 understand this?  If not, re-write it in a simpler, clearer fashion so that a Grade 6 would understand it.  Statistics show that the average reading age of adults is at the same level as a Grade 6, so making your writing understandable at this level means you’ll be sure that your target audience fully grasps your message. Be clear about the message you are conveying and the action you want the reader to take.
  3. Finally, can I be sure that the reader will not misunderstand the message? It’s one thing to write so clearly that everyone understands your message, but it’s even more important to write so precisely  that no can possibly misunderstand it.

If you apply this simple 3 step process to everything you write, you’ll find that your writing becomes more focused, powerful and, most importantly, more profitable.

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