So you’ve landed a freelance gig, and the client wouldn’t spring for an outside editor, saying that he, “trusts your skills.” Yes, that IS shorthand for “not willing to fork over more money.” Eep. Unfortunately, in this world of bottom line business, this is more common than not. While we know that any writer benefits from a good editing pass, understand that it may have been a stretch for the decision makers to hire a writer at all, instead of expecting the engineers to create docs on the fly! Editing your own writing doesn’t have to mean bad editing, though!
Steps when Editing Your Own Writing
Since you’re going to have to edit your own work, there are some steps you can take to make the shift from writer to editor a bit easier.
Include the Time in Your Proposal
Your customer isn’t paying for outside editing, but you did remember to include revision and proofreading time in your schedule, right? Even if it’s not listed as “editing,” include the time you are going to spend editing the document in all of your time calculations – from calculating payment to making up the schedule. (You can easily roll it into the writing time, but remember to account for it.)
Take at Least a Day Away from the Document
After you have finished writing the draft, take at least a day away from it. A week is better, but with rushed schedules, it’s not often possible. You need time away to take off your writer hat and put on your editor hat.
Read the Document as Though You Were the Audience
Don’t just look for typos and grammatical errors. If you have time to test your procedures as you edit, make sure you do that as well. Things slip through the cracks. Try not to let them.
Read it Out Loud
Yes. You will sound hilarious if your spouse or kids catch you at this. But reading your work aloud lets you catch mistakes that you might not have caught otherwise. When you read aloud, your brain has more difficulty pretending that missing words are actually there.
Remind Your Client
Remind your client that she is the final editor. (This should be done even if you have outside help!) If there are technical errors that slip through into the final copy, it is the client’s responsibility to catch them during the review process. Include a reminder note (and of the review due date listed in the contract – you do have a contract/agreement, right?) when you provide your deliverable.
Get Paid and Celebrate
You managed to create, ship, and get paid for your writing! Don’t neglect the celebration stage. Every time you complete a project you achieve a goal. You’re a winner. Even if it was the Project from Hell, celebrate its end! I like chocolate and wine, but your celebration should be personal.