It’s a bit embarrassing to admit it, but sometimes when I’ve written something, I wonder if anything that brilliant has ever been written before. I tend to fall deeply in love with my own text and can often be found sitting there – alone in front of the screen – laughing or crying. Yes, I do both. At my own words. It’s outright lame.
In spite of the fact that I (quite possibly) wrote the world’s most [insert embarrassingly self-indulgent adjective here] text, there comes a time when I have to pass it on. A second opinion is needed.
With trembling hands, I pass on my text to my fellow-reader along with bunch of guidelines on how to read it and assurances that it’s not quite done yet, it’s just a draft, and I have a head cold, so this isn’t even my final form…
Yikes, it can be very vulnerable to leave a text to the mercy of someone else. We pour our heart into our words, don’t we? Will they understand what I wanted to say? What if they change the order of the passages? Will they criticize me? Am I good enough?
After many years of writing professionally, by now I’m trained in the art of receiving feedback. (Yes, it’s an art!) I don’t take it (too) personally. I compare it with a visit to the dentist’s office. You’d rather not go, but oh! it feels so good when it’s over.
A text just gets better when different eyes review it! And why is that?
You become blind to your own text!
Yes, you become text blind. This happens for several reasons.
Since we’ve probably read our own text more than once, in order to hone it and get it just right, our brains already know what we want to say and, thus, automatically correct mistakes.
For eaxmple, it is easy fr qou to raed these wrods even wehn th lettres are in the worng ordre, mispelled or missing.
That’s because your brain compensates and because when we read, we don’t read single letters but the word as a whole. And that’s why we often miss our own typos. Our brain focuses on the message, not the individual words.
My best advice to review your text:
Print the text.
You get a different sense of your text when you see it on paper.
Read it out loud.
Reading it out loud will help you catch repeated words, clumsy sentences and vague arguments.
Put the text away.
Go for a walk. Sleep on it. Give it TIME and DISTANCE, then look at it again.
Read your text in another font, size or color.
You see it afresh and that might cure some of your ‘blindness’.
Read your text backwards.
This helps you to catch spelling mistakes because you look at the words individually and not as part of a sentence.
Pass it on.
Get a second set of eyes on your text.
With these tips, you soon will be able to see your text clearly again.
This article is an example of “content repurposing.”
It means that it is a version of another blog post, originally written by me in Danish. The main points have been translated and thus reused but this article is rather different than the original. Obviously, plagiarizing content is not allowed but if you do like Austin Kleon suggests, you too can Steal Like an Artist.
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