To finish well, you edit. You edit in the later stages of writing to recheck your whole text, to make sure it reads as you intend it to read. You want to see that everything works, from the clarity of ideas to the logic of the paragraphs, the vitality of sentences, the precision of words, and the correctness and accuracy of everything, from facts and references to spelling and punctuation. Whether you have written three, five, or ten drafts, it's the last one you want to be perfect—or as near perfect as possible. Many writers edit first to please themselves; at the same time, they always edit for readers—for some imagined but distant audience—hoping to please them as well.

While it makes more rational sense to edit after you have composed and revised and dealt with larger conceptual issues, in my own composing I often violate that step and edit as I go, working a sentence or paragraph over and over until I get it just right, sometimes feeling as if I can't move on until I articulate a thought a certain way. I think computers, especially, allow that easy blurring of the composing, revising, and editing processes. Though I treat editing here as a later stage in writing, it matters less when you do it than that you do it.

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