Writing and editing are two different processes. Writing requires creativity; editing requires analysis. The writing process should be free and experimental; the editing process should be systematic and critical.

Because of these differences, making a conscious shift in your thinking will make the self-editing process easier and more effective, and one of the best ways to accomplish this is taking time away from the project. For example, I used to write in the morning and then edit in the afternoon. Separating my time like this, and doing so day after day, made shifting from writer to editor easier and more natural.

Even just a few hours will give you new perspective and a better idea of what needs to be done. Therefore, the first step in the editing process is to take a break. Set your manuscript aside and don’t look at it for a few hours, days, even a week if it’s a long work, like a book or e-book.

Time away from the project will allow you to come back to it with a clear head and ready to work. But that doesn’t mean you should forget about your project altogether. During your time off, you should think about your goals. Ask yourself: What do I hope to accomplish with this particular writing project? What main themes do I want to use to communicate my information? How do I want to come across to my readers? What are the main points I want my readers to learn and understand?

Think about all these questions, and jot down some notes that describe your vision. Think about how your goals and vision have changed since you your draft. What new ideas did you have? How will this change your manuscript content and organization? Do your goals add depth to the manuscript? Taking time to revisit your vision now, before going back in and revising your draft, will give you direction during the editing process.

When you’re ready to come back to your work with fresh eyes, use these tips to help you shift from the writer to editor mindset.

1. Make editing appointments. Just like you schedule your writing time on your calendar, schedule your editing time. Make this a regular part of your day, or week—for example, maybe you write Monday through Thursday, and edit on Friday.

2. Ritualize both activities in different ways. For example, maybe you write at your desk every morning with your coffee and your lucky slippers. Well, that’s a writing ritual—little ways you’ve made the activity special and routine. Why not do the same for editing? You could edit in the afternoons while sitting on your patio and drinking iced tea.

3. Edit on a hard copy. Print out your draft and pull out your red pen! Working in a different format will help your mind shift gears because the actual work you’re doing will “feel” different.

Author's Bio: 

Melinda Copp helps speakers, coaches, consultants, and self-employed professionals write and publish to establish expertise, build relationships with their clients and prospects, and make more money. For a free copy of "Write to Grow Richer; The 7 Secrets of Writing to Sell Your Services," go to www.WritersSherpaPrograms.com.