Why is it easier to edit the writing of others than our own?

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  1. ChristinS profile image37
    ChristinSposted 8 years ago

    Why is it easier to edit the writing of others than our own?

    I've noticed that if I am working on an editing assignment; I can easily spot mistakes and fix them.  When I edit my own, even after taking a break after writing it; it can be difficult to see and hear my own mistakes.  The reading aloud trick helps, but I am just curious why it's so much easier to edit other people's writing.  Or is it just me? Which do you find easier?

  2. profile image0
    RTalloniposted 8 years ago

    I think it's because we know what we meant to say.  Our minds read it as we said it in our heads.  Taking a break can help, but that is more helpful if when taking that break I do something completely different, totally put the writing out of my head, and come back to it at a predetermined time with new eyes for the work of editing.

  3. DowntroddenInDC profile image85
    DowntroddenInDCposted 8 years ago

    Totally agree - definitely not you! I think it may because your mind is switching from being creative to being analytical/ problem solving. When I'm being creative, I tend to have more focus on what my idea is than on how to explain my idea.

    Reading the sentence backwards can help to switch your brain into being more analytical.

  4. mactavers profile image89
    mactaversposted 8 years ago

    Spotting our own mistakes is much harder in all areas of our lives.

    1. profile image0
      RTalloniposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      Oh yes ma'am it is!  smile

  5. Kathleen Cochran profile image76
    Kathleen Cochranposted 8 years ago

    You've read it too many times.  Gets to the point you don't see it any more.  Try reading it aloud after you've left it for at least 24 hours.

  6. profile image0
    KaylaTaylorposted 8 years ago

    I think it's always easier to edit someone else's work because we're predisposed to be more protective over our own. We don't want to change something that sprang from our own mind. There's a definite disconnect when looking at a piece written by another writer; we aren't as stingy when it comes to noticing what needs to be changed.

  7. dashingscorpio profile image80
    dashingscorpioposted 8 years ago

    For me I believe when I edit my own work I tend to read what I "intended to write" as opposed to what it actually on the page.
    Oftentimes later on I discover I left out a word in a sentence and each time I read the sentence my mind {filled in} the missing word!
    There have been other times when I've used the word "their" when it should have been "there" or something along similar lines.

  8. peachpurple profile image82
    peachpurpleposted 8 years ago

    I agree, when I read other writers article it is much easier

  9. tsmog profile image85
    tsmogposted 8 years ago

    Great question. Could it come down to a difference in reading strategy combined with cognition? If one ponders when we write we kinda' write in the past. The writing follows behind our thinking. That said, even when we edit our own work there may be a three step process occurring.

    We are reading while our thinking is still far ahead. Being familiar with the work making a change even follows farther behind those two. Humorously making a change may be kinda' like a nuisance very quickly forgotten since the main idea has been stated or is further ahead. How are we reading at that time? Is that why it is suggested to read aloud? 

    Contrast an unknown work where our cognition occurs as we read while we infer. If what is inferred does not occur we hesitate. Something does not make sense. Here is where reading strategy may impact with purpose. What reading strategy is implemented?

    Reading for main idea and purpose
    Reading for information to answer a question(s)
    Reading for comprehension seeking facts
    Reading for story structure
    Reading for pleasure

    And, then reading for editing as a purpose

    Something simply does not make sense for a reason. Very likely that is the grammar or language. At task is those two must match the flow and the logic. To make sense something must change. While reading cognitively we will hesitate and make the change, even though we do not know what the future holds. We hesitate, slowly read ahead, cognitively decide that point something did not make sense, and then decide if a change is necessary.

  10. profile image53
    ankit1996posted 8 years ago

    because in writing a answer for something we set our mind in such a way that it cannot read our mistakes so fastly and we always think that we have written this one then how can it be wrong. And in other's writing we usually try to find mistakes many times because we set our mind in such a way that we have to find the mistakes in this anyhow.
    And for removing this a Break is helpful while finding the mistakes.

  11. WillStarr profile image81
    WillStarrposted 8 years ago

    We all have a style, and when we read our own work, we're so familiar with our style that mistakes are hard to detect.

    When we read the work of others, their very different style demands that we pay attention lest we miss something.

  12. MizBejabbers profile image87
    MizBejabbersposted 8 years ago

    As a professional editor, my colleagues and I have discussed this very question on more than one occasion. We believe that we are too close to our own work, not that we are protective of it, to see the real problem therein. We believe that our minds do tend to correct what we typed for what we meant to say, kind of like a mental autocorrect. When we edit someone else's work, our minds are reviewing it fresh and see the errors without filling in the blanks. Once I literally had the same mistake pointed out three times before I saw it when someone else caught it on my work.

    Repeat scene 3 times:  "Here it is, right here on the screen, can't you see it?"
    "Well, it's right here!"
    "Where? She puts finger on it.]
    That really. happened. LOL

    I also notice that if I put a work down for weeks or months, errors will jump out at me that were hidden when I put the work away. I don't think it's just a matter of style because in the two editing positions I've held, we had to follow a particular style (AP and legal).

  13. Say Yes To Life profile image78
    Say Yes To Lifeposted 8 years ago

    It is for this reason I have decided to stick with writing true stories, or stories based on fact, rather than pure fiction.  Even then, I run into problems.  I once wrote a story that was edited by a writing workshop, and it turned out I assumed they knew some things they didn't know.  I think the best thing to do is to form a circle of writers and have them critique your work while you critique theirs.  Unlike Anne Frank, I don't believe anyone can be their own best editor.

  14. Oscarlites profile image70
    Oscarlitesposted 8 years ago

    because we live in our own home, and begin not to see the dust and the trash as it accumulates.  however, on the positive side, we might have a treasure that is sitting in the dust, which makes it more important to get it dusted off.

    1. MizBejabbers profile image87
      MizBejabbersposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      Good one. I like that.

  15. Rod Marsden profile image68
    Rod Marsdenposted 8 years ago

    We own our own writing. It comes from us and is a part of who we are. Mistakes such as he instead of she we can't easily pick up because we know that the word is she and thus she is what we always intended to put down and believe we have put down. It thus takes another less involved eye to spot the missing s. The same with the difference between, say, stop and flop. With grammar you can have an instead of and. One single missing letter can be so invisible because we had every intention of the letter being there and we still see it there in our mind's eye until someone else informs us that it's not really there at all. That's basically my take.

  16. RGNestle profile image80
    RGNestleposted 8 years ago

    It is very simple: We are not emotionally and mentally connected to others work.

    Our own is too close to us. We don't see errors we have made because our minds put the mistake there in the first place and skips over it quite often just because it does not seem out of place.

    Our hearts are often in our work and we don't want to "kill our darlings." We don't want to remove that which we feel is "needed" even though it may be hurting the writing over all.

    We are a sentimental animal and should NEVER edit our own work.

    That's the way I've come to see it anyway. (Smiley face emoticon here.)

    1. profile image0
      RTalloniposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      Definitely good to keep this in mind.   Ourselves get in the way.  smile

  17. Chriswillman90 profile image89
    Chriswillman90posted 8 years ago

    Many have already answered this question and they're 100% correct. Our work is like our child and we only see the good in it, but we're perfectly capable of pointing out flaws in others' works (their children).

    I also think we're all too pretentious and fail to see the error in our ways. That's why we must constantly edit and read aloud our work. Editors often tell writers to step away from a piece for several hours or even days and then edit it.

    The piece will feel fresh and it'll be easier to find mistakes in the writing.

  18. breathing profile image49
    breathingposted 8 years ago

    Indeed it is easier to edit the writings of others compared to the ones that are written by your own. I’ve seen this from my own experience. There are many reasons behind it. When we write something we are confident most of the times that what we are writing is absolutely correct or closer to correct. How many of us write even the first draft thinking that we will need to make significant changes? As a result when we sit down to edit our own writing we hardly see any flaw in it. We think that I’ve written what I’ve planned and so it is right! The exactly opposite thing happens in case of editing the writing of others. When we sit down with the writing of another person, we sit in a mood to find out as many as flaws as possible in the respective writing. So it seems that we find mistakes almost in every line!! As a result we make the editions according to our own mind and the edition becomes easy. So if we want to make the same approach with our own writing we must not apply all the ideas when writing our very first draft of any writing.


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