By Marci Clark
There’s a meme that makes its way to my Facebook page from time to time. All the words are spelled wrong, yet it’s still legible. That’s because our brains are magnificent things—so magnificent they recognize the big picture (the word) and skim right over the details (the letters).
This is wonderful. Unless you are self-editing your travel blog. Then it is an absolute nightmare.
I am an editor by trade so seeing errors in my work after it has been posted instantly sends my palm crashing into my forehead, but even the most seasoned writer doesn’t always see errors in their work.
After some embarrassing mistakes and painful palm plants, I’ve learned a few tricks to do just that!
1: Walk Away
The best thing you can do before editing is walk away. Let your words leave your mind for a while. When you return, you will see what is there instead of what your brain thinks is there. Trying to edit on your travel blog immediately allows what you thought you typed get in the way of what you actually typed.
2: Read First for Content
Rather than focusing on the details of grammatical issues, make sure what you are saying makes sense. It’s easy to skip over important details that will be crucial for the reader to follow along. They can’t read your mind so it is up to you to connect all the dots for them.
3: Look for Personal Tics
Every writer has a personal tic that can easily become a distraction. Overuse of punctuation and certain words or phrases can become a distraction for a reader. I tend to drop words because my thoughts are faster than my fingers. Learn to recognize your tics by checking through your previous posts on your travel blog so you can edit for them.
4: Avoid Overstuffing Your Post
People are fickle. It is really easy to offer too much information and lose their attention. That waterfall in Honduras may have been the most incredibly breathtakingly beautiful and magical display of nature’s amazing ability to mesmerize with what started as a simple trickle of water…yeah, you can share that in fewer words and still get your point across.
5: Read for Grammar
Now that the fat has been cut away from the meat of your story, you can sit back and look specifically at grammar. Delete any overused or improperly used punctuation. An exclamation point at the end of every sentence causes the punctuation to lose its meaning. Semi-colons are used to tie two closely connected sentences. Use them sparingly as they can be a distraction. Colons are used to set aside a sentence from additional information, typically a list.
6: Do Not Count on Spellchecker
Spellchecker is a wonderful thing. The red and green lines immediately grab your eye and scream at you to correct an error. But the program doesn’t know everything and while it catches many errors, it doesn’t catch them all. Many phrases or interchangeable words slip through. It’s up to you to catch those so your travel blog can be the very best one out there!
7: Print It
If time permits, walk away from your post one more time. Get it out of your head and then if you need to, print the document and read it again. For some reason, seeing it on paper makes a huge difference for some travel bloggers. This should allow you to catch any content or grammar issues missed in prior reads. A third and final read through is usually enough to give you a clean copy, ready for posting.
Though I’ve implemented these into my regular working schedule, this doesn’t mean things don’t still slip through from time to time. Mistakes are inevitable, we all make them, but these things have definitely helped me clean up my posts and saved my forehead from a slap or two and hopefully they will save your forehead too.