What’s the Hardest Part About Editing and Rewriting Content?

That question comes from Jacob Bear on LinkedIn:

What’s the hardest part about editing and rewriting content?

As a copywriter, I get asked a lot to rewrite web pages, press releases, direct mail and other content. I try to avoid doing this (creating original copy is a lot more fun and more lucrative), so I’d like to post a series of online video tutorials to walk people through the process.

I’m trying to get a sense of the biggest writing challenges, so I can address them in the videos.

Actually, the thing that’s really hardest for me is writing what copyeditors call “queries” rather than just fixing problems. But that wasn’t the kind of editing Jacob was talking about, so I said this instead:

Editing other people’s content is actually fairly easy; the challenge is to preserve their “voice” if the writing is informal/personal. Editing your own material is harder because you’re close to it. It’s best to take a break from it, wait a few days, do something to get it out of your head so that you can look at it with fresh eyes. You could ask a friend or family member to read it and tell you whether there’s anything confusing.

One successful author I know recommends doing all your editing on hard copy: print it out, take it and your red pen away from the computer, sit down, and write in the edits and comments, without changing anything yet. Then go back and make the changes at the computer.

Or, of course, you could just refer clients who want editing rather than original work to someone who’s happy doing rewrites.

And, incidentally, I charge the same amount whether I’m writing new content or editing. You may find that raising your rates for editing a) makes you more willing to do it and b) reduces the frequency with which you get asked to do it.

There were a lot of good answers posted. It’s worth going over to LinkedIn and reading all of them.

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