How to Create a Checklist for Quick & Easy Self-Editing

If you’re a frequent traveler, you probably have a packing checklist–a master list of clothing, toiletries, computer equipment, electronics, etc, that you need to remember to pack. A packing list prevents mistakes by helping you remember all those miscellaneous items you need to collect every time you head out of town. A packing list also saves you time because you don’t have to start from scratch every time you pack.

As a writer, an editing checklist serves essentially the same function.

  • It helps you track those easy-to-miss details so you don’t make errors of omission.
  • It’s a cumulative document, taking advantage of your experience over the long haul.
  • It helps you to break down a potentially overwhelming task (editing a manuscript) into a series of manageable steps.


In other words, an editing checklist helps you complete your work more effectively, in less time, via a defined process.

It marks you as a professional!

Step 1: Define Your “Buckets”

So what goes on your editing checklist?

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Writers: Trade Info Overload for Info Mastery With One Small Shift

Blog posts, Twitter, books, magazines, articles, industry news, RSS feeds, YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook, email….

With so many data sources in our lives, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. We’re living with a fire-hose stream of information turned on us, full blast! How many times have you sat down at the computer to read one article, clicked to something else, and something else again, until you looked up to realize that an hour had disappeared?


Now imagine this:

You sit down to review your subscriptions and RSS feeds. Instead of scanning through so many Tweets and web pages and blog post titles that they all start to blur together–instead of clicking links indiscriminately (because so many look like they contain really useful info)–you select two or three based on predetermined criteria. You know exactly what kind of information you’re looking for, because you’ve chosen a focus; you limit your reading to the specific skill you’ve decided to hone in the coming week.

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