We can learn a tremendously valuable lesson in editing from our social media friends Twitter and Instagram.
Consider first INSTAGRAM. Why do people flock to Instagram? Largely I believe people love instagram for it's brief, beautiful, well-crafted photography that can be viewed in a matter of minutes. But I also see a rising trend in the popularity of well curated instagram feeds. People love to not only see a beautifully crafted photo, but they enjoy following along with a well curated story. It's even true that some individuals have even given up on writing blogs or the like in favor of the newest trend 'insta-blogging'. The challenge (and the first valuable lesson learned) is finding the balance between text and photo on a predominantly visual social media. Too much text and people may turn away, but too little and you leave people feeling lackluster about your story.
Editing Lesson No. 1
Whether on instagram, facebook, twitter, blogging, or any of the like, edit your work as if you're sitting on your instagram feed. I've heard many individuals talk about the statistics of how many people actually read an article fully online anymore (answer: not many). And I remember those statistics when I publish work online for public eyes to see.
First, is your platform visually appealing to draw readers into your site? Great writing is a great thing, but if you're site isn't visually appealing, know one may ever discover just how great your writing is (sad but true). Do your graphics and photographs interest your readers enough to pull them down the fold of the site (top part before scrolling)? Second, consider writing in smaller paragraphs (think 4-5 sentences a paragraph). They'll feel less cumbersome to readers and it's a great rule of thumb when editing your posts. That leads me to our second lesson.
Consider second TWITTER. Twitter has risen in popularity within the last couple of years. Unlike instagram, Twitter rarely includes photography, rather words are your main medium for reaching your audience. And the best part (and most challenging) is that Twitter only gives you 140 characters to work with. Within those limits you must write meaningful words that capture the essence of what you're trying to say and more importantly capture your readers attention. Twitter leaves no room for fluffy sentences.
Editing Lesson No.2
Write. Then Edit. And leave only what's necessary for your reader to know. I cannot remember the source of this tip, but it's a practice I've been utilizing ever since - when you sit down to write, write everything you have, then stop, edit, and leave only the 'great'. The bad most definitely should be deleted, but even the good should be deleted. Leave only the most important, the great stuff, for you reader, and let everything else go. Pretend you're on Twitter and have a limited amount of characters available for your use. You wouldn't use those precious characters for the good writing, you'd use those precious characters for your GREAT writing.
What tips for editing have you found most helpful?