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Self-Editing: Developing Self-Editing Skills

Developing Self-Editing Skills

Self-editing is a skill one can build, as with any part of the writing process. It may not come naturally at first, especially for students who have not written a research document of this length before, but remembering some simple steps will help the habit grow:

  • Begin with the idea of Reading to Write. Actively reading will help you prepare for writing. 
  • Do not try to write a perfect first draft, and always expect feedback and revisions.
  • Wait until the content and ideas are solid before polishing and refining.
  • Make revision the most important stage in the process.
    • Block off at least as much time for revision as for initial drafting.
    • Take time away from the document before rereading (at least a day is ideal). This allows you as the writer to see the document with fresh eyes. Taking a step back can provide a fresh (and possibly more constructive) perspective.
    • Plan still more time at the end to proofread and polish what was revised. 
  • Be self-aware of strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
  • Start a writing group and/or offer to trade drafts with colleague to practice critiquing writing.