The Myth-Busting Truth About Self-Editing In Freelance Writing

By . Filed in Web 2.0

Marketers are looking for great content and the writers that provide it. This does not mean that the freelance content writer is the king of the hill. The content editor fills that role. Editors make necessary changes to a writer’s work to ensure they follow certain house styles of the establishment or blog they represent. This gives all text published at the site the same consistency and palatability that ensures readers keep coming back for more.

But if the editor can do it, so can you… right? You have the same command of grammar and syntax, you are the expert on the topic you wrote and it’s going to be your name on the post anyway. And we’re pretty sure the editor is also ‘only human’. So why go through the hassle and slow down the publishing process? Why not just self-edit?

Self-Editing Freelance Writer

There are rumors of a new kind of content writer. They say that this new and improved content writer can edit their own content. After all, an editor does not need another editor so why could there not be a self-editing content writer – a writer who runs quality checks on his or her own posts. When you get right down to it, no one knows the material better than the writer, correct?

The idea of a self-editing freelance content writer would be a great asset for any website or blog. It will cut down on the need for an extra man/woman on the team, the editor. Transferable mistakes will be greatly reduced, there would be no slowdowns caused by a conflict of opinions and we’d get more content published in more regular intervals.

Why It Can’t Work

On paper, it looks like a workable idea but in reality, it’s a dud. I know many content writers who try to self edit to the best of their abilities, myself included. Unfortunately, I do not personally know of any who can do it with a high level of consistency.

During a career span of just over 33 years, I have learned a few things about editing. The gist of it: I have seen enough to know that I would not want the job. Here’s why:

Seeing Is Believing

Our brains can trick us into believing there are words on the page that are not really there. We become so intent on the writing that when we read through it in our first edit, our brain fills in the gaps where the missing words are without us realizing it. Mistakes escape through the filters, points go haywire, and structure loses structure.

The trick to getting around this is to put the writing down for several hours. By doing this, we begin to distance ourselves from the writing. The longer the cooling period, the more we forget. By the end of the waiting period, we will be reading the piece as a reader, not the writer. And that’s where we find all the weird mistakes we miss out during our self imposed edits. Don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself.

Jack Of All Trades

We may be the experts of the topic we wrote about however that probably means we lack in other aspects such as the intricate preferences of the readers of the site. To conquer that, you need a lot of data, a lot of experience with a niche group, or psychic powers. Editors usually have one of the three.
They know where to focus, what to take out, what to put in, and how to enhance a particular post for their readers. It’s their job to know.

For us, all we have to do is be an expert in our topics. When guest blogging, we don’t even have to worry about SEO, CRO, link building, inserting back links, when to publish the post for maximum exposure, social marketing, and dozens of other considerations to maximize our content successfully. Now, aren’t you glad that there are editors on the Web?

Remember that editors have to be natural management specialists, often managing numerous guest bloggers, teams of content writers, and marketers with their eager, often manic campaigns. They need to know which strategy works for which niche market, and how to advise their writers. Speaking of which…

Writer Know Thyself

Even more important than intimate knowledge of the blog or website’s inner workings is the self-editing content writer’s knowledge himself or herself. The reason the world has so few true self-editing writers is because there are not that many people who can be brutally honest with themselves. A handful of those are their own worst critic, essentially crippling themselves before any of their work sees light. That’s not good either.

To self-edit, the Writer must know how to be brutally honest, how to put the integrity of the written piece before the writer, and sometimes, how to walk away from good material. To write what you consider being the purest, most perfect paragraph, only to find during the editing process that it does not contribute enough to the post to be kept in, means you have to make a tough decision.

Can you… Cut it?

The true editor would make the cut without the slightest hesitation and only after considering all other alternatives. For obvious reasons, an editor who is not you will do a better job in being completely objective with the material. It’s almost entirely easier to let someone else do the dirty job.

Still Want To Self-Edit?

After all that is said and done, there is one last thing to add. The content editor can do a job that is only as good as the writer can. In other words, if the raw material was weak to begin with, there is only so much the editor can do before he or she has to give up. After all, even with really good, flawless content, there is still a lot to do in post-editing to ensure that the writer gets all the limelight he or she deserves.

So take this relationship as more of a symbiotic one, one where you the writer has to depend on the editor, and the editor on your dedication to the craft to produce a true piece of writing that readers will love and benefit from.

Author:

Scott Kuttner believes that you don’t need to have a college degree to write. He teaches readers how to write, blog, apply SEO and meet new employers online. He is married to the love of his life, JoDee.

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