You’ve finished a story, an article, a poem, a blog post, an email, a text message. You’re ready to hit the “Post” or “Publish” or “Send” button, but . . . wait. Did you take another look at this work before you moved forward?
Whatever it is, you should proofread that thing before doing anything else with it.
I realize that, with many writers taking part in National Novel Writing Month (aka, NaNoWriMo), right now, the last thing you need to be doing right now is catering to the inner critic and editing your work as you go. That’s not what I am hinting at here — because with that NaNo work, you’re not at the proofread or editing stage yet. You’re at the unearthing stage, the part where you tell yourself the story and write for consistency and volume. And in reality, you may not be (and in many cases will not be) done writing your novel come November 30. What I’m talking about is what you do once you’ve finished that first draft of your work. It’s a simple process that works well for shorter pieces of writing, but can be applied to any first draft (or, really, any draft).