The importance of self-editing

When you write something, anything, chances are you've written too much. Most of us have the tendency to say more than is needed. Sometimes those extra words are unnecessary; other times they may be just enough to undo what we've already written. A few extra words can change things.

Case in point, this homemade sign inside a shop door in my neighborhood.

As I started to read it, I thought it was so nice that they were reminding folks to feed the meter. Thank you very much, Mr. Shop Keeper. I appreciate that! But then they lost me on the next two lines. They almost felt like a threat and a little righteous. Saying "Did You Remember to Feed Your Meter" was enough. It was helpful. Adding "58 Dollars or 25 Cents? You Make the Choice" just wasn't necessary and it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. In this case, less would have been more.

The next time you go to write that blog post, report, advertising piece, press release, or anything else that you intend to put in front of the public, ask yourself, "Is there anything here that I should cut?" Have you already said it? Did you drone on passed your logical ending? Do you need those extra words or would it be tighter and clearer without them? Self-editing can be hard, but take the time to do it. Your writing will be the better for it.

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