Forget “writer’s block”, I’ve got “editor’s block” – help!

Forget “writer’s block”, I’ve got “editor’s block” – help!

In academia, we often talk about “writer’s block”. This is when you find it difficult to figure out what you want to say to your audience. Something that is not as commonly discussed is “editor’s block”. This can be just as frustrating. It happens when you have finished the first draft of a paper and you cannot figure out how to edit it so it can reach its fullest potential.
One editing strategy that I find useful when I get “editor’s block” is to write out a –reverse outline. Let’s look at this in more detail.
What is a reverse outline?
A reverse outline is what happens when you take away all of the supporting writing and are left with each paragraph’s main points/ideas in a bullet-proof view.Begin by placing a number next to each paragraph of your writing. In the margin of the Word doc, write #1 and list the main point (or points) of the first paragraph. Do so for each paragraph in your draft. You will then have an overview of your paper’s paragraphs and main points.
Now go through the outline and ask yourself:
1. Does every paragraph relate back to the main “story” or “idea” that you are trying to portray to your audience?
2. Are you able to extract one main idea or one main argument from each paragraph?
3. Where might a reader have trouble trying to follow the order of your ideas?
3. Do a few of your paragraphs repeat the same idea? If so, consider combining them or revising one of them.
4. Are your paragraphs too long or too short?
A reverse outline is a helpful editing tool that highlights problem areas in the flow of a paper. A reverse outline serves as an effective starting point for the editing process!
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