Do you ever feel like a fake? Like you don’t even deserve to be called a writer (let alone earning a living from it). It keeps you wondering, “What if people find out?”
Well. You are not alone. I’ve suffered from terrible imposter syndrome as well. And that too for a long time after I started publishing my work under my own name. And how did I fight it? By overcompensating.
I would tell too many stories, authenticate my statements with too many sources, and spend too much time trying to put a single content together.
It would take me 3 to 5 days to create a 2,700-word article that could have easily been trimmed down to 1,200 words.
That’s when Elizabeth Dawber, the then-editor of The Startup, suggested:
When you choose a topic/angle, consider what the most important points are and write about those most concise and direct way possible. You often don’t need lots of stories or research to get your point across, and readers will be happier to have to spend less time reading.
That’s when it occurred to me. Instead of trying to do more, I needed to do better. So writing the most information-heavy article wasn’t enough. I needed to edit it into something much more digestible.
But the only problem was…
Editing Can Be Harder Than You Think
Make no mistake. Correcting basic Grammarly errors is not the same as editing. To truly transform a boring write-up into a “living-breathing beast,” you need to do more.
- It requires a critical eye: Editing involves reviewing your writing and identifying mistakes and areas for improvement. And it can be hard to catch your own errors and objectively evaluate the quality of your work.
- It requires attention to detail: “Is your writing clean and easy to understand?” “Are your ideas presented logically and coherently?” “Do your paragraphs flow smoothly from one to the next?”
- It requires a good understanding of language: To edit your writing well, you need a firm grasp of grammar, syntax, and written communication conventions. And it can be challenging if English is not your first language.
- It takes time: Editing takes time and effort, and it can be hard to find the motivation to thoroughly review and revise your writing.
That’s why most aspiring bloggers or online writers don’t even bother. They just dump whatever they can and rush to the publish button. And even though their methods are highly inefficient, they have a point.
You Can’t Take Multiple Hours To Edit Your Writing
Let what I’m about to say sink deep into the recesses of your brain. Ready? OK. Perfectionism kills writing careers.— Ayodeji Awosika
In this online writing world, “published” is better than “perfect.” It is one of those bad pieces of writing advice that turned out to be really good.
It’s because we can’t plan a viral article. So the strategy to narrow our focus down to publishing only fewer ‘quality articles’ can be risky.
In Jari Roomer’s words:
If you only publish one article a month, you only have one shot at getting views. But if you publish ten or twenty articles a month, you increase your odds of success by ten- or twenty-fold.
You can’t do that if you are too obsessed with editing your work to perfection. It’s because that won’t happen — ever.
No matter how hard you try, not all of your work will hit 100%. So what do you do? Here’s Roomer’s suggestion to save your day:
To help you publish more often, adopt the ‘80% is good enough’ mindset. I know, it sounds like a lousy mindset, but it’ll actually fuel your success as a writer.
So how to edit your work into something “engaging enough” without burning hours behind it?
The Easiest (Yet Most Efficient) Solution I Ever Came Across
Guess what! Like most good things in life, I stumbled on this by sheer chance. I was reading this article by Anangsha Alammyan, and there at the bottom, I found something interesting.
There, she mentioned using a free Text to speech converter tool. And even though I didn’t use the exact tool as her, the idea stuck with me.
So I installed a free chrome extension called Read Aloud. And then, I started using it while scanning the draft while looking for potential areas to improve.
And the results had been instantaneous.
- Now I can edit way faster than before.
- I can finish projects way before the deadline.
- My revision rates are lower than ever.
- My works get selected by the big pubs more often.
- I have more time to branch out my efforts in different fields.
And the next logical question will be…
Why & How Is It So Effective?
Our ears are more sensitive to errors than our eyes.
When we hear the language spoken aloud, we process it in real time. As a result, it gets much easier for our brains to detect errors and inconsistencies.
That’s why combining your eyes and ear can be really powerful when you are trying to identify errors and awkward phrasing in your writing that you might not have noticed when reading silently.
And the good news is you don’t need to read aloud yourself to listen and read your work (at the same time). A free text-to-speech tool can do the job just fine.
In fact, using a tool can be more efficient than reading your writing out loud when editing because it saves time and allows you to multitask.
Lazy people only want to get things done, but hard workers want to do a good job. What about the smart workers? They want to do it well with as little effort as possible.
They’re like the masters of efficiency, finding clever ways to get things done quickly and well. After all, you are not known for your efforts. You win the world through your effectiveness. The same goes for when it comes to editing your writing.