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Ragini Werner NEEDSer Bashful Blagger


Bashful Blagger raves on the ups and downs of life in the fast lane of freelancing. 

ty smallMy Dad used to be a dancer. He taught classical ballet for much of his life, and even when he retired he was always keen to talk his head off on the topic of dance to anyone who cared to listen. Anyway, back in the days when I myself was trotting about in a tutu, my dear old Dad used to tell me:

"When you make a mistake, make it beautiful."

Dad was advising me what to do when I fell over on stage in one of his ballet school concerts. (NB: Not if, but when I fell over. Believe me, those darling hippos in Disney's Fantasia had nothing to fear from me.) Nonetheless, his good advice is applicable in many situations, including the one writers find themselves in when they're settling down to revision.

Every writer makes mistakes, even the best of all published authors, you can bet your bottom line on that. We're only human, as the saying goes, and that counts for writers too. As that doyen of the one-liner, Robert Orben puts it:

"To err is human–and to blame it on a computer is even more so."

Which brings me to another aspect of making mistakes. I mean: being willing to shoulder the blame. It doesn't matter if we make a mistake, so long as we fix it. That's what my Dad's advice means. But if we can't or won't admit to making mistakes in the first place, we can't ever fix them. So we need to develop an attitude to our writing that allows us to spot and not accept mistakes, whether it be a simple typo or complicated grammar. Don't be afraid. With this attitude, we can always make our mistakes "beautiful."

A is for ATTITUDE, the secret to successful self-editing.

Without attitude we'll find it hard to recognize that our work benefits from revision. Let's face it, writers are... curiously... sensitive... especially about their newborn creations and believe me, as a writer myself I know how hard it is in that first flush of creation to accept that my brainchild is anything less than perfect.

No way can it be perfect after only one draft.

You need attitude. But this attitude needs time to develop so it's wise to let your writing cool off, tucked out of sight in a drawer if needs be, to give you time to come down from that first wild rush, that infatuation with what you've just created that makes writing such a heady pleasure. Wait long enough until you can be objective about your article (or report or CV or letter) and you'll be in stronger and better shape to start polishing.

What if there isn't time to let the rush fade, what if you've got a deadline? Ah yes. That can happen. Deadlines are usually no problem for professional writers with the attitude and discipline to meet them. For other less experienced writers, caught in the lights of a tight deadline, I'd advise asking for a professional helping hand. A language professional, like an author's editor, like NEEDSer, who can guarantee top quality corrections and a fast turnaround on schedule (subject to availability, of course).