I don’t get it.
When you find an article that is helpful or empathetic to your situation, you want to comment on it and share it with your friends.
You probably do the same when you find an article that is offensive.
What do both of those scenarios have in common? You understand the message the writer intended to convey … or at least you think you do.
So chances are good that the writer proofread the piece with meticulous focus and a creative spirit.
Wait, creativity and proofreading can go together?
You better believe it. Here’s how …
Proofreading and creativity are not mutually exclusive
We take for granted that the blog posts we interact with or spread around online make sense to us. Even if we disagree with a blog post’s author or misconstrue his intentions, we have still comprehended the text well enough to form an opinion about it.
Articles we don’t finish reading or disregard quickly may be confusing and poorly structured — glaring errors are major turn-offs. We don’t take the writing seriously and we go elsewhere to gain knowledge.
Even though every detail of your writing needs to reinforce the authority you strive to establish with your content, I’ve heard many people say that proofreading is their least favorite part of writing.
When you write, you get to be creative and expressive; proofreading is boring and tedious.
Like most circumstances, however, your approach to proofreading shapes your results.
An activity is only as boring and tedious as you make it. You can easily turn proofreading into an important part of your creative process that also improves the quality and clarity of your writing.
Ready to turn your rough draft into a polished post that readers revere? Here are seven creative proofreading tips that help produce professional-quality writing.
1. Open with confidence
Do not hoard what seems good for a later place … something more will arise for later, something better. ~ Annie Dillard
In order to nail your opening, you need to paint a crisp picture for your reader.
As you proofread the beginning of your blog post, analyze your initial message and tone from a stranger’s point of view. If you didn’t write the words that introduce a reader to your work, would you be compelled to keep reading?
Communicate your most innovative thoughts promptly — while the reader has given you a chance to prove yourself.
2. Detach from your ego
Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip. ~ Elmore Leonard
Proofreading is a slow practice — painfully slow if you’re doing it right.
Rather than reading at a normal pace, you need to thoroughly scan each word, phrase, sentence, and paragraph. Does every facet of your content support the surrounding text, as well as your main point?
When you take the time to assess your article’s clout, you’ll be able to spot the parts you need to cut out.
Don’t cling to excessive thoughts if they don’t fit.
3. Choose your words wisely.
Words are a lens to focus one’s mind. ~ Ayn Rand
There are words, and there are the right words.
When you finally produce the right words that match the vision in your mind, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” immediately plays on the soundtrack of your life.
Give yourself time to craft the final version of an article because choosing the right words is a process.
Word choice makes the difference between writing that is just okay and a persuasive work of art.
4. Correct language flaws
Half my life is an act of revision. ~ John Irving
Rough drafts are supposed to be messy.
There would never be a single piece of completed writing if implementing perfect grammar and usage were necessary the first time you flesh out ideas.
Language rules can be a bit stifling when you’re inspired to create, but when you proofread your content, it’s not just about you anymore.
To communicate effectively, revise convoluted phrases that confuse readers … because that’s all grammar is: a tool that enforces clarity.
5. Guide the reader carefully
Punctuation is to words as cartilage is to bone, permitting articulation and bearing stress. ~ John Lennard
Punctuation enhances the benefits of proper grammar by marking your words with pauses and subtle expressions that promote the flow of your text.
Highlight each punctuation mark in your writing, and evaluate if it complements the structure of the sentence and paragraph.
On the other hand, if your writing lacks punctuation, your article may benefit from inserting symbols that direct the reader and help organize your thoughts.
6. Compose with style
Style is the answer to everything — a fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing. ~ Charles Bukowski
If you write as you speak in order to convey your personality, you’ll end up with tangents, non-sequiturs, and consistency errors that are forgivable in speech but detrimental to your written communication.
Style is a set of guidelines that keep the language in your blog posts uniform and effortlessly comprehensible.
For example, a proper term, such as “Copyblogger,” needs to be written the same way throughout your text—not also as “CopyBlogger” or “copyblogger.”
7. Keep your eye on the prize
The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with. ~ William Faulkner
To reconcile discrepancies between the blog post you wanted to write and the blog post you actually wrote, write your content’s objective in 20 words or fewer in a separate document.
What’s the one main takeaway you want readers to learn from your writing?
Proofread from your target audience’s perspective with your objective in mind. Does each section help achieve it?
Stay flexible and reserve the right to change your draft.
Over to you …
You won’t stand out in your niche or increase your revenue by publishing online content that does not have a specific purpose.
And rough drafts need to be meticulously reviewed and adequately modified if you want your writing to make an impact.
What proofreading techniques do you use to help you ensure that your blog posts are clear, direct, and establish your authority?
Share in the comments below!