If you want your writing to shine, subject it to the scrutiny of a great editor. Namely, you.
You, that is, from a distance.
Earlier this week I dashed off an article that I was convinced represented nothing short of sheer brilliance. This morning I took another look. From a fresh perspective, I noted a significant problem with the piece. Briefly: it sucked.
Out came the red pen. I ruthlessly gutted and rebuilt it. And vastly improved it.
At least, I think I vastly improved it. Just to be sure, I shall set it aside and look again in a few days.
One of my frustrations with many freelance writers is that their work often appears to have been denied that vital self-editing. Or, if you will, self-policing.
Caution: The better you get at beating up and improving your stuff, the less your clients will realize how hard you work at it. Effortlessly-read writing appears effortlessly written. Among other ironies, that can make your bill seem unduly high.
The editor of a national magazine I write for often rationalizes giving me too-short deadlines with, “I never have to edit your stuff. It always arrives perfect. So I know that if anyone can whip out this assignment effortlessly and in no time, you can.” Er, no. The reason my stuff arrives in good shape is that I fuss over it ad nauseam before you ever see it.
I take some risk talking about that here. Doubtless an astute reader will find ways this post could have been improved, had I only put in a bit more effort.