Even as a professional writer, I still make mistakes.
So does every other writer out there. (So does every human, since we’re on the topic.)
But it’s still embarrassing when we hit publish, only to see what suddenly seems like a glaring typo. Too often our readers are quick to point out our mistakes.
It’s almost enough to make you want to quit writing. Because obviously you aren’t very good at it.
Your brain sees what it wants to see
That’s not the truth at all, though. The truth is that we don’t see our typos because our brains know what’s supposed to be there.
“When we’re proof reading our own work, we know the meaning we want to convey. Because we expect that meaning to be there, it’s easier for us to miss when parts (or all) of it are absent. The reason we don’t see our own typos is because what we see on the screen is competing with the version that exists in our heads.” – Nick Stockton for Wired.com
How to double-(triple-, quadruple-)check yourself
If you don’t consider the technical aspects of writing to be your strong suit, there are still ways for you to check your work.
- Certain words are often misused, even by professional writers. Initially, write using the full phrase rather than contractions – “it is,” “you are,” “they are.” If the phrase doesn’t make sense, use the other possibility – “its,” “their,” “your.”
- Read content aloud. Or read it backward.
- Get your content proofread by a colleague.
- Sit on it awhile. Leave it alone for a couple of days, or at least a few hours.
- “Try to make your work as unfamiliar as possible. Change the font or background color, or print it out and edit by hand,” suggests Tom Stafford, University of Sheffield
Don’t be so hard on yourself
As I said above, I do it.
Other copywriters do it. Your favorite author does it.
There’s nothing wrong with your writing ability if you have a few typos. It just means you’re a real writer.