Ever go back and re-read your previously written blog posts? I’m a glutton for pain and humiliation so I often do. For me, reading my own writing can be a lot like seeing a picture of myself or hearing the sound of my own voice. It makes me throw up a little in my mouth.
So I try to re-read my own stuff, mainly to make sure it reads well and I don’t sound like a friggin’ idiot. And you know what? I always do sound like an idiot! Some of the grammatical errors and typos are so glaring that a reasonable person would be forced to ask: Just what the hell was he on when he wrote that?
A good friend taught me long ago about the three hats of writing, and I’ve always tried to wear those hats when composing my blog posts. It’s somewhat sobering that even after that process so many typos and errors still remain. The goal of the three hats exercise is to separate the writing process into distinct and separate steps that force you to consider what you have written from different perspectives.
The first hat is “create.” You concentrate on writing without worrying too much about how it sounds, spelling, grammar and what not. Just turn it on and let it flow. Try not to over-think what you are doing.
The second hat is “edit.” You roll up your sleeves and mercilessly slice it up. You are looking for typos, bad grammar, checking facts, etc. When you do edit a sentence, perhaps moving things around a bit, be sure to go back and re-read, re-read, re-read! If I had a dime for every time I edited a sentence and left it sounding funny …
The third hat is “read.” This is where you clear your mind, let everything else go and try to look at the piece with fresh eyes and consume your work from a reader’s point of view. How does it flow? What is the tone? Are the ideas making sense and coming across the way you intended?
You’d think three hats would be enough, but the next day I go back and re-read the post and, “Gack! I can’t believe I didn’t see that. The whole world thinks I’m stupid!”
I just started my day by fixing five distinct grammatical errors in yesterday’s post about angry songs. Maybe I should have been listening to something more soothing.