3-Step Editing Framework To Help You Go From Draft To Published 10x Faster

Dickie Bush & Nicolas Cole

Ultimate Guide Table of Contents

Ahoy and happy Monday!

Welcome to another week of Start Writing Online—where every week we dive into the biggest problems all writers face stopping them from writing on the internet, building an audience, and monetizing their writing.

(And, of course, if you want to defeat these problems and master the fundamentals of Digital Writing in just 30 days, we'd love to have you in the next cohort of Ship 30 for 30!)

This week, we want to help you publish faster by giving you a quick and easy editing framework.

School does a terrible job of teaching us how to write effectively—and it’s no different when it comes to editing.

All writers, and especially beginner writers, spend too much time editing.

  • Endlessly switching out adjectives
  • Agonizing how to structure their work
  • Thinking that multiple rounds of edits will make their work ten times more valuable

When it comes to editing, the only question you should be asking yourself is, “Will this provide even more value to the reader?”

Editing should be the thing you spend the least amount of time doing. The writing is way more important than the editing. Why? Because writing is where you get all the ideas out which will help the reader.

The truth is, the reader usually can’t tell what you spent time editing and what you didn’t.

Which leads us to one important lesson all Digital Writers must learn:

Editing is not as important as you think.

Go read Reddit for 15 minutes.

You’ll find yourself intently reading posts and comments that are hardly “world-class literature,” but you give them your attention because the content is a) interesting and b) highly relevant to you.

When editing, there are really only 3 things worth paying attention to:

  • Structure (“Is this organized effectively?”)
  • Content (“What am I actually trying to say here?”)
  • Grammar (“Is this correct?”)

Everything else is noise.

So today, we want to give you an editing framework so you can escape the editing loop and publish your work faster.

Let’s go!

Step 1: Edit for organization.

When reading back through your writing, your first priority is figuring out if the right content is in the right order.

  • “Should Chapter 2 actually be Chapter 1?”
  • “Should this section go before or after this big idea?”
  • “Should this example go here, or go there?”

Don’t worry about anything in the sentences. Don’t worry about individual words. Don’t worry about the spelling and grammar (yet).

Just focus on the actual organization of the content.

Is everything where it’s supposed to be?

Step 2: Edit for content.

Once the organization is settled and everything is in its rightful place, the next round of edits should be on the content itself.

When you wrote your piece, you will have expanded your point with Tips, Reasons, Mistakes, etc. So ask yourself, “What kind of content am I using here?” This will focus the editing process on delivering for the reader (after all, you’re writing for them—not yourself).

Once you’ve answered that question, just go down the list:

  • Tips: “Is this the right set of tips to productively move the reader from A to C? Do I need to get more specific with the action steps?”
  • Reasons: “Is this the right rationale? Am I making a logical argument here? Does the reader need more context? Do they need less context?”
  • Mistakes: “Are these the right mistakes to point out? Are these helpful to the reader? Are there any important mistakes I forgot?”
  • Lessons: “Are these the right takeaways and lessons? Are these impactful? Is the reader going to remember these? Am I being too vague? How can I make these takeaways more visceral?”
  • Personal Stories: “Is this personal story adding context and value to the reader? Am I rambling on and on about myself? What’s the most important part of the story I’m telling—and how can I emphasize just that? How can I bring the story back to the wants & needs of the reader?”
  • Case Studies/Examples: “Is this case study or example relevant? Does it emphasize the point I’m trying to make, or is it one big tangent the reader doesn’t really need?”
  • Research: “Do these stats, trends, or data points I’m referencing add anything to what I’m explaining? Is this helpful to the reader, or is it boring?”

These are the sorts of questions you want to ask yourself as you look at what you’ve written.

Most importantly, trust your gut. If you find yourself getting bored reading what you’ve written, chances are, you might not need that section. Cut the fluff and just give the reader “the good stuff!”

On to the final step.

Step 3: Edit for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Finally, at the very end, you want to do a quick read for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Two important things here:

  • Don’t get caught up trying to make your writing “perfect.” Don’t spend hours and hours obsessing over whether you’re using the Oxford comma the right way. (Remember, most people read at a 3rd grade reading level anyway—and they have no idea how to use the Oxford comma the right way either.)
  • You are going to make spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. You just are. You’re going to miss a few misspelled words here and there. You’re going to use the wrong “your” in a sentence. You’re going to accidentally use a semicolon instead of a regular colon. It’s fine.

The beauty of writing online is that you get instant feedback on your work. So, after you hit publish, when you will inevitably find little mistakes here and there (and/or readers will point them out for you), learn from them. This will do more for your pattern-loving brain than studying grammar textbooks or revising your piece 100 times.

Get it out into the world and start receiving feedback right away.


That's it for today!

Chat next week!

–Dickie Bush & Nicolas Cole

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