I had the following story on my main website for many months, but actually I think it belongs here. So I’ve simply copied most of it over.
I remember that first English essay assignment. I was so proud. I was really confident. Guess what: I barely passed. I was devastated. Since I was determined to improve, I sheepishly checked with my friends how to improve. It turned out most of them had failed. Also turned out that this was Dr. M..’s standard approach. Frighten the newbies. BUT it did teach me something I never forgot. My content was strong, but my delivery was poor. My formatting was non-existent, my spelling was a mixture of British and American, and I certainly did not know how to use an apostrophe correctly.
It became my life-long journey to improve and learn more, and now to help others in similar positions. The art of self-editing and knowing when to let go and allow an editor to help is a vital part of writing. But added to that is another lesson I learned to apply to all editing we do. When we learn a language, there is a process of noticing and remembering which words go with which other words. This is particularly true of academic English. There’s a saying that captures the idea perfectly: You shall know a word by the company it keeps. Finding and maintaining an academic voice is the next step beyond sorting out the nuts and bolts of writing correct English. This ability is usually developed over a period of time.
When you write something, your work needs proofreading and editing. The choice is simply who should help you. You should start out doing it yourself, but at some point get professional help. If you would like some serious and quirky tips on proofreading, be sure to fetch your own copy of Language Online’s Proofreading Guide.
Once you have created your best work, I recommend a skilled editor or reviewer, and of course, in particular, a Language Online editor. By submitting your best, you are ensuring that the editor takes your work a step further. Otherwise, we are simply tidying what you could have done yourself.
More about reviewing and editing next time 🙂
You see the ShareThis button below? If my story inspired you even a little, please email a friend or share ithe story where it might be most useful.