You've heard over and over again that the most important thing to do as a writer is to write. Write when you don't want to. Write when you do want to. When you don't know what to write, write anything.
But there are two sides to the writing coin. There is writing, and there is editing. In this post, I'm going to share a proofreading technique I learned recently that is changing my writing life.
Proofreading Doesn't Have to Be Hard If You Use This Trick
Out of the two, writing is usually more fun—because even when it feels like torture, it's almost always easier than editing.
Editing is a task I always dread. I don't have an English degree and feel inadequate every time I try to edit and fix grammar. And I've talked to enough writers to know I'm not alone.
Sentence structure and comma placements may not be our thing. But, there is no way we're going to let that stop us from becoming successful writers.
Recently, my friend and occasional editor, Joe, taught me a trick to help with my editing that I just had to share with you.
The trick is simple.
Write your piece, and then read it aloud to yourself.
Many of you are in the Becoming Writer Writing Contest, and if you're not—you should be. (Check it out here.) Using this proofreading technique will put you one step ahead in the competition.
4 Reasons This Proofreading Technique Will Change Your Writing Life
Why should you read your writing aloud before you publish it? Here are four reasons:
1. Proofreading Aloud Helps With Grammar
When you read your piece out loud you are able to pause where you would naturally, and that is where you know you need some sort of punctuation or pause.
Other times you read out loud and may realize that you haven't taken a breath in a while. There you may discover a run-on sentence that needs splitting up.
2. Proofreading Aloud Reveals Holes
When you read your piece out loud you begin to find places with missing information. It happens to all of us. We, as the writer, assume our readers know what we're talking about, so we leave out obvious information. Truth is, they don't know, and reading out loud shows us places we haven't been clear enough.
3. Proofreading Aloud Avoids Awkward Word Placement
Have you ever read something out loud and had to re-read a phrase or sentence multiple times? That is often due to awkward word placement. We don't want our readers tripping over their tongues; reading out loud points out these phrases and allows us to fix them.
4. Proofreading Aloud Fights Repetitive Words
We all have them—words we can't help but use over and over again. The first time I tried this technique I realized I had repeated the same work in five consecutive sentences. When you read aloud, those words become easier to spot and fix.
Do All Writers Have to Proofread?
But that doesn't mean it has to be agonizing. I'm not going to tell you that this technique will suddenly make proofreading fun, or guarantee that your writing will be flawless, but that's okay. The more you proofread and edit, the better you will become.
As you read your own writing, you will better know your style, voice, and bad-habits. You will recognize what you do well, and what you need to fix. You know what you want to accomplish with your writing, and reading it aloud will help you be more effective.
This isn't about perfection. It's about growing and developing your skills. It's not about pointing out your flaws. It's about becoming a writer.
How about you? Have you ever tried proofreading your writing aloud? Let us know in the comments below!
Practice using this proofreading technique with the most recent piece you've written. Take fifteen minutes and read your piece aloud. Take note of the changes you made and post the differences in the comments below! And if you post, please be sure to leave some notes for your fellow writers!
Kellie McGann is the founder of Write a Better Book . She partners with leaders to help tell their stories in book form.
On the weekends, she writes poetry and prose.
She contributes to The Write Practice every other Wednesday.