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the importance of proofreading, and how to avoid mistakes

Two days ago, it was my mom. Yesterday, it was a friend. They emailed me, ever so gently, to tell me that they’d found an error in one of my posts.

The horror, the horror.

Sure enough, I had written ‘where’ instead of ‘wear’ and ‘there’ instead of ‘their’. Oy.

Shame and embarrassment. Self-flagellation. The whole gamut ensued.

Okay, so maybe I’m a bit hard on myself…but, geez, I’m a copywriter for heaven’s sake. I shouldn’t make these mistakes, much less advertise them to my audience, clients, colleagues, critics and fans on my blog.

Now, I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing that other people make mistakes too. So, here are my thoughts on how to NOT let this be the norm (see how I’m cutting myself a little slack here? No one is perfect – I do get that on some level!)

  1. Do one thing at a time. Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes, I’ve been known to simultaneously write, IM, email and talk on the phone. Sometimes multi-tasking is good, but I think we can all agree that giving your undivided attention to each task will yield better results.
  2. Slow down. If you are in that big of a hurry, things need to change. Living like you are under fire all day is really no way to live.
  3. Read aloud. Have you ever taken that test whare yu cn rde sentncs splled rong prfctly wlle? Our eyes and brains are trained to make sense of such things – the brain is dealing with the context of what you’re reading and it knows what it wants to see, even if it isn’t there. I’ve found that the best way to get around this is to read my writing out loud. Yes, it takes a few minutes, but it is soooooo worth it.
  4. Copyeditor anyone? If you have the time, money and resources, it would be grand if you could have a professional or recreational copyeditor read your work before you publish it or send it to a client.
  5. 30 minute rule. Timing is everything – and if you have at least 30 minutes before you have to publish or send your work, it practically pushes the reset button on your brain. You suddenly have fresh eyes.

By the way, it took me 3 times as long as it should have to write this post because I did 50 other things at the same time, I’m not moving even remotely slow, Silas can’t even read and he’s the only one around, and I wasted so much time doing the 50 other things that I don’t have 30 minutes. However, I did read this aloud and corrected some errors. Hey 1 out of 5 ain’t bad, right? I’m sure you’ll alert me if I missed any mistakes…and I will so appreciate that! Listen, I’m trying to heed my own advice and change my evil ways…and, personally, I find my eagerness, yet total inability, to change quite endearing.

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