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.