When creating a piece of writing, many writers balk at the idea of sharing their work with someone else. Whether they believe their writing to be perfect, or fear that it is too imperfect to be shared, they are wrong. Any work that has not been reviewed by an outside source is incomplete. While not all feedback is created equal, it is essential to have your work reviewed not just for typos, but for content and flow as well.
Typos, of course, are a natural part of the writing process. Sometimes our thoughts fly faster than the fingers recording them. Other times, we just have bad habits in our typing form or use the wrong word. Even after reading over our own work repeatedly, many typos can escape our view. This is because, as the authors, we know what the words are supposed to look like. Therefore, while reading, our mind fixes the discrepancies because what is supposed to be on the page and what actually is. A second pair of eyes, whose expectations are not set, have a much better chance of catching what you can’t.
Along with catching minute discrepancies, authors have trouble detecting gaps in the information presented. When a whole world has already been formed in your head, you’re not able to look at the story the way a new reader would. They piece the world together bit by bit, using your words as a guide, whereas you are approaching from the other direction. Just like with typos, your mind fills in gaps of missing information with what you already know. If your text is missing vital information, you’ll need fresh eyes to find it.
Even if you have all of the information in place, however, you still need someone to analyze the overall flow of your work. Our thoughts often come out jumbled and out of order, especially with a first draft. Unnecessary detail, poor construction, and illogical flow need to be weeded out by someone who isn’t familiar with your work. Otherwise, just like with typos and information gaps, your mind will restructure what you’re reading into what you expect to see rather than what is actually on the page.
Whether it’s a friend, family member, or someone you met in a writer’s group, you don’t have to pay for a professional editor just to get a second perspective on your work. Reach out to people with discerning eyes and a strong knowledge of writing practices. Be aware that not all advice may be in alignment with your chosen genre. Focus on these three areas of feedback to get the most out of your reader’s opinions.