The other day, I wrote about a technique that many great writers use to take their work to the next level: reading aloud.

And while I'll explain more about that in a minute, a colleague reminded me that reading aloud is not the only way to improve your writing. In fact, many experienced writers (including me) use these 8 strategies for enhancing their work:

1. Check your grade level.When you're almost finished drafting your piece, use the Microsoft Word spelling/grammar check to determine the Flesch reading ease score for your piece (should be a high number; this blog scores 73) and the Flesch-Kincaid grade level score (should be as low as possible; this blog scores 6.6). If your grade level score is 10 or above, look for opportunities to lower it. How? Make your sentences shorter and choose simple words instead of complicated ones.

2. Change the look of your document. Often we writers find that our work is too familiar--so we can't see what we need to fix.  The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill gives this advice: "Altering the size, spacing, color, or style of the text may trick your brain into thinking it's seeing an unfamiliar document, and that can help you get a different perspective on what you've written."

3. Finish your draft and print it out.But don't read it right away; put it aside for a few hours. If you can let the draft sit overnight, even better.

4. Take the printout to a different location, a quiet place without distractions. "Don't try to do your proofreading in front of the TV or while you're chugging away on the treadmill," advises UNC. "Find a place where you can concentrate and avoid distractions.

5. Slowly read your draft,with a highlighter or red pen in hand. Mark any redundant words or phrases. Look for content that is not relevant to making your point.

6. Break up your editing session into small chunks of time. UNC again:"Your concentration may start to wane if you try to proofread the entire text at one time."

7. Reduce your word count.When I edit a colleague's work, I often notice extra words. So if you're editing your own work, try to eliminate words. Just tell yourself that you have a limit (say, 25 to 50 fewer words than you have now) and cut back. (You'll be surprised by how this creates discipline to make your writing more economical, and by how easy it is to reduce extra stuff.)

8. Read your work aloud.Of course you know how to read--you've been doing it since you were very young--but there are four reading-aloud techniques you might not have considered:

  • Find a quiet room and pretend you are giving a speech. Read slowly and loudly. Here's advice from Erin Feldman, a copywriter and digital marketing strategist: "If you want to catch errors in your work, you need to read slowly, as though you're reading the text for the very first time."
  • As you do so, listen for sentences that sound too long or that meander too much, or for any phrases that are difficult to say. Be mindful of where you need to take a breath. Circle any problem areas on your work.
  • Record yourself. Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist, writes that one technique he's found is "to put on my headphones and fire up my podcasting microphone and pretend I'm recording the audiobook. I don't know why exactly this works, but it does. (I think it's being able to hear my voice through the headphones.)"
  • Read to someone else. Kleon advises that "reading to an audience is best, because you start really judging the thing when you have to project it into a room full of people." And Robert Wood, editor at Standout Books, writes that reading to other people "heightens your responses to everything that reading aloud helps you spot. If the rhythm or pace is off, or a section is lengthy, then you'll be aware of it. This is really a way of using our natural social instincts to our advantage. Quite simply, we want to do well in front of others. Combined with the acute feedback of our aural sense, this means we're in a situation where we fully appreciate the structure of the words we're using."

While you don't have to use all these techniques every time, any will help you take a fresh approach to a piece you've written.