Writing Skills: Put on your editor hat

Sep 4, 2013 | Better Writing

Edward de Bono’s concept of Six Thinking Hats can really help you make better decisions. The idea is that you, in your mind, put on different hats for different ways to think about a problem.

Imagining that you’re putting on your “editor hat” works the same way. It’s a way of pretending that gets you out of your comfort zone and makes your writing better.

When you put on your editor hat, you start thinking like an editor. Here some things to do and tools to help you do a better job of editing.

Look for big changes. There may be whole chunks of writing that don’t move the piece forward. Get rid of them. There may be whole chunks of writing that would be more helpful somewhere else in the piece. Move them.

Look for passive voice. When you use passive voice, you make writing harder to read and understand. The good news is that you can set your spelling and grammar checker in Word to spot passive voice for you.

Look for adverbs.  Adverbs are the enemy. Elmore Leonard said that using an adverb was a “mortal sin.” Luckily, there’s an Adverb Detector that will help you.

Find the words and phrases you love too much. If you’re like me, you use the same word several times in a piece. I do the same with my favorite phrases. Paste your copy into Word Frequency Counter to discover what words and phrases you’ve used more than once. Then decide if you should make changes.

You don’t have to be a professional editor to make your writing better. Just put on your editor hat and go to work.