Stick a fork in it. It’s done. Finished. Ready to send.
Hmm… Well, you might want to hold off on popping the cork on that champagne. Really, you want your business writing to be as good as it can be—so what’s the hurt in checking it one last time?
I’d recommend running through this quick checklist:
1. Did You Repeat Yourself?
How many times did you use the same word? Use your word processor’s built-in functions to see if you’ve inadvertently (you’d never do it on purpose, would you?) used a standout word repetitiously.
2. Kick Passive Writing to the Curb
Use an active voice in your writing to make it lively and concise. (Yes, that means fewer words, which may not be profitable for you if you’re being paid by the word. You’ll need to struggle with that one by yourself.)
Not sure if your writing is active or passive? Nobody has done a better job of explaining it than The Elements of Style (1918), also known as Strunk & White. This book should be on every writer’s shelf.
Is there anything general that can be specific? Details help your writing become real to the reader. So, were they flowers—or deep-red roses?
4. Ask Another Person to Read It
Sharing your writing with someone you can trust might help you find something you’ve missed. Let’s repeat a key word: trust. This should be someone from whom you would gladly receive constructive criticism.
5. Take a Break; You’ve Earned It
Rest before revision—and then again before submitting. You may find that a break of a few days is necessary to give you enough distance from your writing in order to revisit it with objectivity.
6. Check Spelling and Grammar
There aren’t any green squiggles or red lines anywhere in the document, so it’s error-free, right? Ha ha, don’t be so sure!
Read it over—and if you don’t feel too silly about it, actually read it aloud. That shouldn’t feel too awkward, by the way; a writing style that closely resembles your speaking style is the optimal use of both modes of communication.
Oh, and by the way, those squiggles and red lines will often lead you down a wrong road. The truth is, no software will ever be as accurate as the trained eyes of a skilled copy editor.
7. Back It Up
Of course you know the golden rule: Save your work constantly.
But that may not always be enough. Your computer’s hard drive may crash one day. Are you prepared?
Get an external hard drive, or consider keeping a copy of your writing on a cloud storage service such as Dropbox. When you sign up for the service (it’s free unless you need to back up huge amounts of data), you download an icon to your computer that functions like another drive, but one you can use from other computers as well. This has the added benefit of allowing you to work on the same document from other computers.
Let’s Work Together
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