Reading your own work is an important part of being and improving as a writer, but it’s critical for bloggers and website owners. You have to occasionally test yourself and make sure that you’re doing what you set out to do.
This is a typically excellent post from Randy. If you do any sort of writing at all you should read it. It applies to more writing than just online. That said, I’m going to offer up the reason why I go back and read old writing I’ve done and why I think you should too…
When I was a teenager, I took a summer long creative writing class. I largely credit that class for the reason I consider myself a writer today. In the class, we explored all facets of creative writing – poetry, prose, memoir, essay, fiction. It was beneficial in not only giving me the foundations of these forms but also allowing (and, at times, forcing) me to explore styles and boundaries I never would have before.
But of all of the lessons I learned in the class, it was something that the instructor said to us early on that still resonates strongly with the work I produce today:
Nothing I write is sacred.
There is no work made by any writer that does not retain the license, or, more so – the duty, to change for the better. And the only one that can define “better” is the writer themselves. For it is they alone who put idea to page with intent to communicate and articulate such. Even if making it “better” means rewriting it or destroying it completely.
Bloggers, as we writers who produce work primarily for an online audience are called, often are quick to write and lazy to edit. I am certainly guilty of this more often than not. Perhaps it is the immediacy of the publishing instrument we use. Perhaps it is a more forgiving audience that has far more important things to do then shoot you a typo correction or critique of style. That said, I often go back to look at pieces I have written in the past. If I see a typo, I correct it. If I see a way I could have said something better, I do so.
Most of the time it is a change of one or two words. Sometimes, I add, delete, rewrite a whole paragraph or post. I don’t consider the fact that few are likely to read it again, let alone notice the change. I do it because, well, words *mean* things. I want my words to be a reflection of the idea I had at the time and to articulate it in a manner that is clear and consistent.
Therefore, when you do follow the advice, both linked and herein, use the red pen liberally and with malice aforethought to make it even better.
Update: To prove my point, I will note any changes I make to this post below:
Changed “so beneficial” to “beneficial” in the second paragraph.
Changed “malace of forethought” to “malace aforethought” which is the proper legal term (thx Jonas Wisser)
Changed “then just” to “than just” in the first paragraph. (thx Pat Dryburgh)
Note to self with help again from Jonas: It’s “malice”, not “malace”. Mal ass! (which I think is French for Bad Ass so I’ll take it as a compliment)