Jun 30 2007

The dreaded edit

I stumbled across a simple way to perfect your blog material, and in the process, determine whether what you set out to do has been achieved. Additionally, if you see yourself wandering, it is a chance to bring yourself back on track.

Essentially, you go back to your first post, read it ├╝ber critically and then start editing, fine-tuning, and honing any points that you were trying to make. I guarantee that with the benefit of hindsight, some ideas won’t appear to be quite as neat as you perhaps thought they were back in the day ie You missed out the punchline, or referred to the salient point as IT without ever telling the reader what IT is!

If you are any sort of conscientious writer, initially you will be fretting as you edit! Did I really publish that? Did people really read that? Sorry, this is one of those No Pain No Gain deals!! But relax, the past is the past, and now is a chance to get down to work and get a second bite at the cherry. Remember, “all” you have to do is focus on a weaker (or could do better) post and “polish” it until it emerges strong, direct and all being well, freshly embellished with uptodate info, or new points of view that have been developing in your mind since those early days.

On the plus side, not everything you wrote was weak, so you don’t have to alter the entirety of your material. The downside of this operation, from my recent experience anyway, is that it will be mentally tough, going over some old ground and critiquing yourself, so don’t expect to rattle through all your posts in a few minutes.

And when you are happy with post one, I bet it has enough alterations to merit being re-published as an update. Why not? If that revise and update tactic is good enough for The Motley Fool, it is good enough for anyone.

And don’t stop at one edit, because another upside of this horrible process is the chance to ensure that your posts as a whole are focussed in the right direction. You can spot trends, decide whether you like them or not, and act accordingly. (Is the personal stuff dwarfing the business side of your business blog, do you repeat certain phrases or words ad nauseam? etc…) Therefore, work your way diligently from the darkest past back to the present and a light tight ship should be yours.

If you are cringing at the thought of doing the edits on top of normal blogging duties, I repeat, some of these edits will end up so drastic it shouldn’t be an issue re-publishing them – which in effect requires less work from you overall. It is just a lot less fun than dreaming up a brand new post out of nowhere.

I just practiced what I preach with a few from my stable of 250 techie posts, One, an article on iPods and other gizmos on armbands made me cringe. Re-reading it, the post from last October was OK, but, with the dust settled, it didn’t strike me as fluid or particularly witty. Taking my time, detached, a bit more experierenced, I was able to tighten up the flow and then add a couple of geriatric pickpockets into the mix, and I think it worked quite well. (Maybe you think the revision needs editing / rethinking too, but I can’t stand the thought of fiddling around with that article any more, so it will stay untouched till Revision 3!)

In conclusion, the message is, use what you got and make the best of it. No point discarding or ignoring anything, because all your work has some merit, and the dull bits only require a polish now and again to become gems. It is doubtful whether anyone else will enlighten you about the specific shortcomings you are going to find while editing your material, so the choice to act and edit your archives really is down to you.

As a side note, in the last post here, I was suggesting you communicate with bloggers you have referred to in past posts. I started doing exactly that and have had a couple of positive responses, and been ignored by a couple too, so don’t be put off saying hi, and find out where you stand.

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  1. legbamel said:

    These are excellent tips. I’ve been editing the tags on my older posts in an attempt to reduce the enormous list in my sidebar. I hadn’t thought about editing the content itself, though. I’ll have to take a look at them.

    I agree that keeping up with the folks to whom you’ve linked in the past is a good idea. If they had great content once it’s likely that you’ll find another post that is thought-provoking and perhaps link-worthy.

    July 5th, 2007 at 10:37 am
  2. Ed the Editor said:

    Glad it prompted some ideas for you.

    July 6th, 2007 at 4:48 am

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