I actually like editing. I find it soothing to impose order on chaos. But editing is also an easy step to skip over. I mean, you wrote. It’s written. Why not just post the thing or send it out or whatever? Right?

No! Editing is when the magic happens. It’s the reason great writers are great writers. They don’t necessarily write beautiful first drafts. They get the basics down. Then they revise, revise, revise, until it really sparkles.

You don’t have to make a big production out of this. Here are some really simple ways to make your drafts better:

1. Print out what you’ve got. There’s something about seeing something in physical form that helps you spot what’s not quite right. Maybe do it in a different font from the one you used to write it. Now take it somewhere pleasant—outside, a cafe, wherever—and read it over, marking your thoughts as you go. I like to use a marker in a color that makes me happy. I bought a large package of Crayola skinny markers for this purpose.

2. Read it aloud. You’ll hear what’s clunky because you won’t be able to say it.

3. Have some friends read it and give you feedback. I wrote about this before. It’s invaluable.

4. Get Susan Bell’s The Artful Edit. There you’ll find these tips plus a whole bunch more.