Bloody Typos

I really do try to keep typos from making an appearance in my writing.  I know it doesn’t seem like I proof my posts, but despite the overwhelming damning evidence, I do.

Why is it that I can type the word beacon, when I know I meant to say beckon?

In my head, I hear the word beckon, but my fingers typed beacon and since it is technically spelled correctly, that little red squiggly line doesn’t show up.  Even if I re-read that word a bazillion times, in my head, I read/see/hear beckon.

Why is that?  Why is it that we make all those silly mistakes that make us look, at worst, lazy, and, at best, stupid?

Of course I know the difference between beacon and beckon, were and where, their and there, and countless other word-swaps; but do you think I can catch ’em before I send that manuscript to a magazine or hit that Publish button?

Well, I’ve learned to take it all in stride.  I still cringe when I see that I’ve made yet another terrible typo, but I know I’m in good company.  We all do it.  It’s the nature of the business.  We are so intimate with our stories that we often don’t really read our work, but skim through it.  That doesn’t excuse all those typos, but there’s no reason to beat yourself up over an innocent mistake.  Correct it if you can, then move on.

So what can we do to minimize those warts, zits, and buggers?

Here’s some advice I’ve been given over the past few years.  Reminding myself of them is always good, and maybe it’ll help you, too.

  • Distance – After writing something, give yourself a little distance from your piece.  Let the work sit on your hard drive (or journal) for a while till you forget what you wrote.  I’m an impatient bastard and this is the hardest thing for me to do, but if you can let a piece rest and come back to it after a few days, those typos will scream out, making them easy to correct.
  • Read it backwards.  Personally, I’ve never been able to do this.  It just doesn’t do anything for me, but I’ve seen this suggested in several places.  (shrugs) Give it a try, it might work for you.
  • Print it out.  If you write on a computer, print your work out.  Often, just seeing the writing in a different venue, so to speak, changes how you perceive the words and those typos will jump off of the page.
  • Similarly, if you write in a journal, you probably already know that when you transfer the work to your computer, you often catch those typos.  Good job!
  • Change the font in your document.  This doesn’t help me, but I’ve seen other folks offer this piece of advice.  If it works for someone, then it works!
  • Read your work aloud.  This may or may not help with typos.  It works for me because reading aloud makes me read slower.  I actually see the words on the page rather than my eyes just glossing over them as the story-movie runs in my head.
  • With blog posts, use the Preview button.  Much like printing out your work, seeing your writing with a different background, font, and colors, tends to change it enough so that typos stand out like a red skirt in a yellow desert.

I hope that helps.  Live well, Write Strong.

(Any typos?)



11 thoughts on “Bloody Typos

  1. I am laughing because I am a bad person, but also because this is so true. It is astonishing (and frustrating) how adept the mind is about “seeing” what is supposed to be there.

    All your tips are good ones. I would add to the reading backward trick, use a ruler to isolate single lines of type so your eyes aren’t jumping ahead to make complete sentences.

    Speaking as a reader, thank you for obsessing about this. I wish more writers would.

  2. I am SO bad about this. Just terrible. That’s why I don’t show first drafts to anyone but my most trusted reader. These mistakes are so embarrassing.

    Thanks for the tips, though! I’ll be trying these out.

  3. I know what you mean. But I have another question. If I catch a spelling error on your blog, how do you and other writer-bloggers feel about my pointing that out? I am a stickler for it when I’m proofreading our blog (not that I don’t miss them myself sometimes), but I never know whether people think I’m being rude in saying anything. Sometimes I do, sometimes not.

    1. On my blog, you are more than welcomed to point them out in the comment section. I don’t mind. Or, rather, maybe it will teach me to slow down and proof my posts! Anyway, if my error is terribly embarrassing, I have complete control and can delete your comment. 😀 Then go fix the error – of course.

  4. I don’t know about other bloggers, but it doesn’t bother me in the least.

    One of my fiction fans take great delight in emailing to point out goofs. I’m going to hire her as a proofreader.

    You know I meet my Writing Buddy on Thursdays, right? I will take pages I’ve read 100 times, scoured them in pursuit of perfection. My goal, to make her little red pen shrivel up and DIE! Every time… she finds something. If she ever does find perfection, one of will probably have a heart attack from shock. Heh.

      1. It’s my opinion that an excellent trait for any writer to develop is appreciation for nitpickers.

        I have never read any book that didn’t have a typo or two (or ten). I was watching one of those antique, find the treasure shows (can’t recall which one) and learned there are collectors who seek out editions with errors in them. Antique book collectors can often date editions by the errors that were fixed in later printings.

        No writer should be embarrassed by their mistakes. You find them, wipe them out, move on.

Get it out of your system

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s