Please edit like a traitor

As a writer, your first loyalty should not be to yourself. Instead, you should betray yourself, as Donald Murray suggests in Writing to Deadline: The Journalist at Work.Writing to Deadline by Donald Murray

Here’s what Murray says:

Effective writers turn traitor to their own copy, reading what they have written through the eyes of an enemy reader who has no loyalty to the writer, little interest in the subject, no concern with form or style but with an aggressive skepticism and an eagerness to turn the page. Writers must detach themselves from intent, not reading what is supposed to be on the page, but what is on the page.

I like Murray’s assertion that you should assume that readers are eager to “turn the page,” although in today’s world that equates to web-surfing away from your page. Your job is to provide reader-friendly content that is compelling, clear, and concise.

The best solution to edit your content as if you were a member of your target audience. Betray yourself and go over to the other side. I’ll be interested to hear about your results.

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Note: I edited this on April 22, 2014, after noticing a typo.