DIY Edit: 05 Change of Medium

Even though I’m an editor for hire, I firmly believe in self-editing. Each month I’m going to drop a tip for developing your ability to edit your own work or identify things to look for as you edit. Make sure to check out all the DIY Edit Tips to improve your self-editing.


05 Creating Distance: Change of Medium

Another way to create distance to achieve that elusive objectivity when editing your own work is to change the medium.

Printing out the story and editing a hard copy is one of the most effective methods for me. Marking with a pencil or pen helps shift my brain out of writer mode and into editor mode, since I am literally using different tools to edit the work than the tools I used to write the work. It also helps me feel a little bit like I’m reading someone else’s work, since I’m used to reading the printed work of others.

If you don’t have the resources to print your work (and let’s face it, that kills a lot of trees), try changing the font type, point size, or margins. When the line breaks fall differently from the ones I’ve been staring at for weeks, I catch more typos and missing words. I also read the sentences more carefully, since I’m seeing them in a new form, which allows me to find errors and awkward phrasings.

Changing the medium is just a trick to help you view your work with new eyes, but it’s one that has helped slow me down and allowed me to more carefully review and edit my own work.

If objectivity is one of your main obstacles to being your own best editor, keep an eye out for other tips on “Creating Distance.”


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