Pros and Cons of Self-Editing

by: Shirley Crowder

Long before I began writing for anything other than my journal or notes for teaching Bible studies, I was helping friends by editing their writing. I enjoy helping people fine-tune their writing so that their ideas come across clearly to the readers of their work.

Once I began writing for others to read, I realized the importance of having someone else edit my writing. Following, I’ll share my perceptions of some pros and cons of self-editing. In my experience, each aspect I’ve considered can be a pro and a con.

PROS of Self-Editing

1.   You wrote the story and know what you want it to say.
This is your story to tell in your own words, using your own expressions. Sometimes an editor wants you to change your words.

2.   You can polish your ideas as you go.
As you write you can rewrite and correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.

3.   You can save money.
Self-editing will cost your time but there will be no out-of-pocket money spent.

4.   You can use a good software program to help you check spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
There are many good editing programs, some are included with programs like Microsoft Word (which I use) and some are add-on programs that will help you with spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Some programs allow you to choose by which style manual (APA, Chicago, etc.) they will make recommendations.

CONS of Self-Editing

1.   You wrote the story (manuscript) and know what you want it to say.
Since you wrote the story and know precisely what you want it to say, you may well overlook mistakes in the manuscript because you are so familiar with the content that your eyes will read what you know you meant it to say, not what you actually wrote.

2.   You can polish your ideas as you go.
Editing and polishing as you go can often lead to your getting bogged down trying to figure out how to rewrite that one idea that is pertinent to the story. Self-editing as you go will not only slow down your process of getting your story committed to paper (or computer), it may well interrupt the flow of creative ideas as you make a conscious effort to focus on just one aspect of your story.

3.   You can save money.
Your goal is to have your manuscript consistent, easy to read, and have no glaring errors or inconsistencies, so, whatever monies you expend hiring an editor will help make your manuscript ready for publication.

4.   You can use a good software program to help you check spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
These software programs can be helpful, but you cannot always just take their suggestions. Sometimes they suggest a comma where one is not needed, or a spelling that is not the correct word you want to use.

I suggest you self-edit and hire an editor. Once your manuscript is completed, set it aside for several weeks and then go back through the manuscript to self-edit. Then I recommend you find a good editor to go through your manuscript and check for spelling, grammar, punctuation issues as well as inconsistencies. Even though it may be difficult for us to hear, it is very helpful to receive an honest critique of the manuscript.

Writing Prompt challenge – How would you edit the following? (Put your answer in the comments.)
One of the customs in Nigeria and many other parts of the world when a loved one dies is for mourners often paid professional mourners to be at the home of the deceased to wail and cry loudly and continually.

Click to Tweet: I suggest you self-edit and hire an editor. Even though it may be difficult for us to hear, it is very helpful to receive an honest critique of the manuscript. #amwriting #writerslife #editor

3 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Self-Editing

  1. One of the best investments I’ve made in my writing life was hiring a freelance editor to work on my YA manuscript. I learned so much and use that knowledge when I edit my short stories.

  2. Pingback: Pros and Cons of Self-Editing | karen h richardson, author

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