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At all stages of the writing process, from pre-writing through proofing, the self-critical faculty is crucial. You may work diligently and in a timely fashion, but if you cannot evaluate your ideas and the words you use to express them, then your effectiveness as an advocate is compromised. We all evaluate our own writing, even work that is “dictated but not read.” In the manner of the scientific method, we formulate hypotheses, test them, reformulate them and test them again. To some degree for each project, we ask ourselves whether we have a point, and if so, whether we have made it. If we perform this self-checking and self-correcting function relentlessly, we may write well. LETTING TIME PASS An associate asked how she could gain the perspective to evaluate her own work. The easy answer, I said, is to let time pass between drafts. A gap in time provides a fresh view because the mind regroups data. Like a computer, the mind performs functions on data, which means it sorts data. Unlike a computer, the mind may not recreate the same groups each time it visits a database. Memory degrades, and new ideas emerge. Groupings shift, like crystals in a kaleidoscope. The more time that elapses between visits to the database, and the more complex the data and the issues, the more the mind may forget or reject its groupings. It may create new groups, new sets and subsets, possibly better than the old. Hence, the easy answer to the question of how to gain the perspective to edit your own work is to set it aside and come back to it. FINDING THE RIGHT MINDSET The more difficult task is to create a mindset that fosters regrouping, one that enhances the perspective that comes naturally with the passage of time. If you wish to do more than just give your mind time to regroup data, you must develop a mindset for self-criticism. The way to do that is to imagine being the reader. Pretend to be receiving, not sending, the message. By imagining yourself to be the reader, you can evaluate your work dispassionately and, as necessary, reformulate it. As the imagined third-party reader of your own draft, you continually ask yourself three questions:

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