Editing Your Own Work – The Traffic Light Revision Technique

Photo by Harshal Desai on Unsplash

Today’s post comes from an article I read about the best methods to edit your own work. As editing is kind of a big thing in the world of writing, I thought it would be interesting to see how different editors use their own processes to edit their work.

As mentioned in my previous post, every editor is different, and therefore, every editor will have a different process. This is actually a good thing because it means we can learn from others, and our editing process can improve.

While tools like Grammarly do a similar thing when using the document editor, this process, which is called The Traffic Light Revision technique, is a more hands-on editing process that you can do at any time when creating your blog posts.

Stephanie Flaxman from Copyblogger uses this technique when she writes, and it just might be the thing you’re looking for if you want to rely less on software apps and browser extensions. There is nothing wrong with good old-fashioned manual editing.

Here’s the technique in the step-by-step format:

1. Make a copy of the document

Include “TLRT1” in the file name when you save this copy.

Now you have the original document and a version you will mark-up first before you edit.

2. As you examine each sentence, highlight it with green, yellow, or red

Use green if you think the sentence is the best it can be. Choose yellow if you think minor modifications will make the sentence stronger. Select red if you think it should be completely revised or removed.

Don’t change the text yet.

3. Make another copy of the document

Include “TLRT2” in the file name when you save this copy. The “TLRT2” version will be the file you edit.

Before you edit the document and change the colours, you want to save the original marked-up “TLRT1” version for future reference.

You can learn from the “TLRT1” document with the green, yellow, and red text. It will help you recognise your strengths and weaknesses.

4. Edit the yellow and red areas

You may also need to edit the green text to accommodate the changes you make in the red and yellow portions, but don’t waste time repeatedly reviewing the green text you already regard as solid content.

As you revise the weaker sections, change yellow and red portions to green.

5. Proofread each sentence from the beginning

Once all of your text is green, you should be able to read it from the start without making any edits.

If you still need to change parts of the text, consider highlighting those sections in yellow or red. Take a break and correct those areas at a later time, until everything is green.

When you have trouble identifying whether a sentence should be green, yellow, or red, ask yourself:

“Do these words clearly communicate my true intent and give my audience a cohesive presentation?”

If your sentence is vague or assumes your reader knows something she may not actually know, you will likely benefit from a revision.

Let me know if you’ve used any or all of the editing steps above. And if you like my content, please follow this blog. Thanks!

What is the Most Important Tool in the Editing Process?


My Post

I wrote about the process of editing the other day. I wanted to clarify the topic even further today. I wasn’t trying to say that Grammarly isn’t an important part of the process but that it’s an option. You have to have a process.

Don’t disregard the power of Grammarly as a tool. But don’t become reliant on one tool alone. You’re writing needs to be clear, and free of errors and spelling mistakes. What you write has to be readable for anyone and everyone. After all, we want the world to read what we write and for people to understand it, right?

Most people think of editing as a laborious process. And it sometimes can be. But if you want your writing to stand out in a crowd, you need to make sure it’s as good as anything else out there and then some. Why would anyone read your writing if you’re not respecting the process of creating it? You want your writing to be the best version of itself it can be.

The most important tool in the editing process isn’t Grammarly or even Hemingway. It’s you. The process begins with your passion to write and to make it better. I am not saying this because it sounds good. I am saying these things because they can work for anyone willing to put in the effort.

I have only started using more than three different methods to edit what I write. Like anything, it takes practice. This article on Medium discusses self-editing and is informative. Apply the things you’ve learned. Have you become a better writer as a result?

Please let me know about your process in the comments!

Check out my other articles here.


When Not To Use Grammarly in the Editing Process


Editing Process
Image Credit


I have edited a few pages during my time as an editor for a gaming magazine in New Zealand. I didn’t rely on online tools to make editing adjustments and corrections. A soft and hard copy may be different content, but they still need editing and proofreading. I did things the old fashioned way and edited hard copy documents with a red ballpoint pen. Does that mean that online tools aren’t good for editing? Not at all! The best way to edit anything is to use a combination of both.

Every editor will have a method that works best for them. It is also dependent on what you are editing and where you are in the editing process. Previously, I wrote about the differences between line editing and copyediting. This can apply to anything that you do. What is important is the process, the steps in that process, and the desired outcome. Are you editing a manuscript, soft copy for an online website, articles for a journal, pages for a magazine? You can’t paint each project or job you do with the same brush, but some techniques and tools overlap. One editor might say they never use online tools; another might say that they do as part of their process. Neither of these methods is incorrect. You need to find what’s right for you and develop your process.


By Georgie Cobbs Unsplash
Photo by Georgie Cobbs on Unsplash


If you like to work with the hard copy, that’s great! Some swear by this method. Some editors will say that you cannot substitute using hard copy during the process. You should consider this as a step for sure, but you should not rely on one thing to complete the editing process. I try to use a combination of hard copy, soft copy, and different tools to achieve this.

Part of my process involves some of these tools and methods:

Grammarly, Hemingway, Lexico

You can use style manuals depending on your content. If you have an inhouse style manual, you should always refer to that first

Reading your content aloud is an excellent way to find errors, particularly grammatical. It is also an excellent method of finding the tone in your writing.

Get someone else to proofread your work. An excellent step before you publish anything

You should always expect to make mistakes. We are only human, after all, and you will miss something at some point. If you are okay with knowing this, you can begin the editing process with confidence.

*** Please note that the above steps are by no means an exhaustive list and there are many editing processes and steps used by editors worldwide that were omitted for the purpose of brevity***



What is the Difference Between a Line Edit and a Copyedit?


From Unspash - Hannah Grace
Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash


Editing and proofreading seem to go hand-in-hand. But there are various levels to editing which sets it apart from proofreading fundamentally. Most people have a general idea of what “editing” means, but what about line editing? How different is this process from copyediting? Well, they are actually very different processes.

The easiest way to remember what they are is to think of copyediting as closer to proofreading. Some people consider copyediting to be a more in-depth version of proofreading because it involves similar techniques and skills. So if copyediting is closer to proofreading, then what is line editing and how does it differ?

According to the website for the New York Book Editors, a line edit is:

A line edit addresses the creative content, writing style, and language use at the sentence and paragraph level. But the purpose of a line edit is not to comb your manuscript for errors – rather, a line edit focuses on the way you use language to communicate your story to the reader. Is your language clear, fluid, and pleasurable to read? Does it convey a sense of atmosphere, emotion, and tone? Do the words you’ve chosen convey a precise meaning, or are you using broad generalizations and clichés?

This is very different from what an editor might do or even what a copyeditor might do. A copyeditor will look at the mistakes and errors on a technical level. They will also fact check your writing and ensure it is correct. They may even question specific parts of the book to ensure consistency. A copyeditor is also usually the last person to touch the manuscript. In contrast, the line edit takes place much earlier on in the process of creating a body of work that is ready for publishing.

What type of editor do you think you might be? Do you enjoy correcting grammatical errors and spelling mistakes? Or would you prefer to be involved in the process of language and how it is used to communicate with a reader? These are some of the questions you might ask yourself if you were looking at a career in the editing field.

Why Is Proofreading So Hard?

Via Writing Academy Blog
Via the Writing Academy Blog

I recently found this excellent article about why proofreading can be a difficult skill to master. Here’s an example of a proofreading challenge quite a few people failed, including me!

Take a look at this image below. Can you spot the mistake? Most people can’t, and that’s because of the way our brain plays little tricks on us. There are plenty of other challenges like this that I’ll be blogging about to challenge our proofreading skills!

Via Vappingo

Wired also wrote an excellent article about why you shouldn’t proofread your own writing. It makes a lot of sense that your brain can be trained to see or “unsee” certain things when you are reading and writing. And that’s why it’s better to get someone else (hopefully a trained proofreader), to proofread your work. Would you want to send your final grade project to your teacher full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors? Luckily, there are a lot of resources online where you can learn about proofreading or upskill to become a better proofreader and/or editor.


Did you spot the error in the top image on this page? This is why proofreading is an important skill that requires time, patience and dedication to learn. All aboard the proofreading train!




Lurking: How a Person became a User by Joanne McNeil


This book can be found here on Goodreads and here on Amazon

The book was provided as an ARC via Netgalley for an honest review

This book features the following topics/genres – The Internet / Social Media

Publisher’s release date: 25 February 2020

Check out my animated book cover art for this book here!

The distinction between a “user” and a person is both evident and understated. Joanne McNeil makes it apparent from the beginning that the reference to a person as a “user” has both positive and negative connotations. This book is partially a journey towards understanding how and why this word is used in online communities. It is also a window into viewing the impact the term “user” has had on those communities and the people that created and inhabited them – people like you and me.

“Everybody has a trace of an ache—some eternal disappointment, or longing, that is satisfied, at least for a minute each day, by a familiar group and by a place that will always be there.”

The author takes the time to visit the Internet in its infancy. Some of the websites mentioned won’t even register with anyone born after the 90s. But for those of us a little older, it’s like taking a trip down memory lane. I vaguely remember the days of AOL, Napster, mIRC, Netscape Navigator. Many of these communities were frequented by users just as much as online communities like 4-Chan and Reddit are today. It’s interesting to see her view on these communities and how they came and went and were inevitably replaced by others. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the more recent communities are better (and in some ways, they can be a lot worse), but it’s fun to think back to more carefree times when the possibility of getting “doxxed” was never a thing.

The first two chapters of the book were harder for me to digest, and it wasn’t until the third chapter “Visibility” that I began to connect with the author, mainly through the “Friendster” pages. While I barely remember “Friendster” as an online community, the real-life events and details Joanne discusses in this chapter resonated on a personal level. This quote, in particular, is a good example;

“Then again, people fulfilled with their lives generally do not waste time on social media”

The quote above got me thinking about the social media interactions I do have and whether or not this quote relates to my own experience or anyone else’s for that matter. I guess, in a way, we are all seeking fulfilment of one kind or another, and nowadays, there are just so many ways to obtain it. Back then, it seemed like choices were a lot more limited as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr weren’t invented yet. But the point Joanne makes here is quite crucial. Everyone needs something. Everyone is searching for a way to make their lives better. Everyone needs communication and a sense of community. Everyone wants to belong. This chapter is well written and relatable and made me feel validated in my decision to review this book. As a reader, I looked for a little bit of myself in these pages and was lucky enough to find it.

“Blogging was a departure from the sanctitude and solitude of writing”

Reading about someone talking about how the term “blogger” and “blogging” came into existence is funny to me. It’s funny because I consider myself a “blogger” of sorts; I’ve worked as a freelance writer and even continue to blog on several platforms, including this one today. And the quote above is every bit the reality. Why write for just yourself when you can share what you think and feel with the whole world? Well, some people probably continue using private diaries online and offline, and I used to do this too. There is a lot that can be said for keeping your thoughts entirely private. Putting thoughts and feelings on the internet is never private, even when you choose to post anonymously. Someone somewhere can see it, has access to it and can do just about anything with it. It is never entirely yours. That in itself is something to think about.

The way that the book is segregated is essential to the flow of the book. Joanne uses her own experiences as a method of explaining many of the fundamental uses the internet has had and continues to have. And there are questions I found extremely relevant not only then but now such as has the landscape of what we consider to be “cyberspace” changed? And if so, how? Have we changed with it? Reading some of Joanne’s paragraphs brings the “idea” of what the internet is to life. It becomes a living, breathing thing capable of both growth and stagnation, just as we are. We are as much a part of the digital world as we are separate from it. For some of us, this is almost a co-dependent relationship.

In the following chapters, namely “Sharing” and “Community,” I made even more connections with the author, particularly since I use many of the social media communities she refers to here. I distinctly remember the “Tumblr” ban where all adult content was banned in 2018. I was online and present for the aftermath, which didn’t have any impact on my personal experience at all other than receiving a warning for reblogging an image of Adam Driver with his shirt off. You may be interested to know that the people and creators I was particularly connected to are still there today, and I now have less of a reason to use Tumblr Savior as a result of the 2018 ban. I consider this a definite positive but not all Tumblr users would agree. And this was just one of many real-world examples I connected with on a personal level.

My first impression of this book was that it was full of facts and information about digital super-companies that I already knew of and was not interested in pursuing as a topic. But that was naive of me. As I progressed through the book, I felt as though I was looking into a mirror. Reading a very personal account of how the internet has changed us as human beings while also experiencing Joanne’s journey through the years was enlightening. I think this is a significant book to read, particularly in the digital age. You may not connect with everything the author chooses to explore. However, if you’re a user of the internet (as most people are), particularly of social media, you will find this book is an open and honest view of life online and everything that entails including its historic beginnings. I will also add that if you are not someone who uses social media daily or someone who isn’t interested in how life online has progressed through the last 10 – 20 years, you may find this book a little outside of your scope of interest.




Meeting Boudicca by C. A. Powell


This book can be found here on Goodreads and here on Amazon

The book was provided for review from the author via Booktasters for an honest review

This book features the following topics/genres – Historical / Fiction / War /

Publisher’s release date: November 17, 2013

Check out my animated book cover art for this book here!

“The Iceni Highness Boudicca roars from eternity,”

I heard about Queen Boudicca some time ago, and I’ve always been intrigued by her as a historical figure. This is not the first historical fiction book I’ve read, but it is the first time I’ve ventured into Britain during the Roman occupation with not one but two Celtic Queens at the forefront. This book is based on real people but not on actual events which is OK. Fiction is about possibilities. What could have happened if these two powerful women had actually met? I was extremely intrigued by the answer to this question.

The first part of the book is a little slow going as the author establishes the background behind why these two famous (or in the case of Boudicca, infamous) leaders would even consider meeting each other. It is an introduction of sorts to the narrator of this story, Queen Cartimandua, who was Queen of the Brigantes people, loyalists to Rome. As Queen Boudicca was an enemy of Rome, this unfortunate situation places these women at opposite sides of a bloody and brutal war of which there can be only one victor.

And so the story proper begins.

The first few chapters quickly touch on the Druids who were supporting the Iceni Queen, Boudicca and it’s quite an exciting part of the book because it gives you insight into the relationship between the Druids and warriors loyal to both Cartimandua and Boudicca. What unfolds during their first meeting allows the reader to better understand the politics of war and how two women as mighty as Boudicca and Cartimandua could become pawns in a game, not of their making.

We are then taken to Cartimandua’s stronghold, where she becomes quickly aware of the game that others are playing with her and Queen Boudicca. The story begins to pick up the pace from here on in, and it was rather exciting to think of these two great women finally meeting. What would they have to say to each other? Would they even get far enough to talk to each other without war-mongering men on either side of the divide screaming for retaliation?

“Cartimandua was coming for the traitors of the Brigante, and she was bringing death with her”…


The author has taken his time to create and build the immediate surroundings of the two Queens. We can gather a sense of where these women are and who the most influential men are that surround them. We are also able to see beyond pleasantries and royalty and to the brutality of war. I appreciate how the author has carefully sculpted these women in such a way that respects their historical lineage. It also compliments them both as women of action and war and capable of just as much brutality as their male counterparts. It’s not often you read books about female warrior Queens slaying men where they stand without hesitation and with a smile upon their lips. I loved this aspect of the book immensely, it was a real treat to read, but it may not be for everyone. Some of the scenes depicted are quite graphic.

I also sensed that the author favoured Queen Cartimandua considerably more than Queen Boudicca and we are reminded of this on many occasions, perhaps too many. The story flips back and forth between Queen Cartimandua’s story-telling session on an old jetty and the events as she remembered them. While I do not think this was a problem for the flow of the story, it is noticeable that the author decided to do this rather than using traditional story-telling from a first-person perspective throughout the book.

The event of the meeting itself is brief and reading through the book, it did feel a bit like everything else that had occurred up to this point was surplus to the encounter of the two queens. It was a masterful way to gain the reader’s interest and excitement. The anticipation of their meeting did build steadily over the course of the book, and I found myself wanting to get to that chapter even more as the book progressed.

I did enjoy this book and I felt the author was careful with his depiction of the queens and their very brief interaction. But I did find some of the chapters, particularly those on the jetty, a little superfluous to the rest of the story.