Okay, here’s an honest statement: I always think of myself first and foremost as a writer. Any other label is way down on my list, including beekeeper, scientist, environmentalist, business manager, and mother. So why is it that I cannot write a post without at least one egregious and embarrassing whooper of an error?
Thing is, I spend most of my time checking those things I’m least familiar with. If the post contains math, I recalculate fifteen ways from Sunday. If it contains obscure scientific principles, I have the statements checked by a pro. If I’m quoting, I double check every word. But I consider myself the go-to authority when it comes to English . . . big, big mistake.
The errors occur because I routinely break my first rule of writing: never proofread on the same day you write. If I don’t let my writing sit, there will be errors. When I proofread right away, I’ve memorized what I wrote so I don’t actually see the words, I trust a spell checker to know what I mean, and I gloss over inconsistencies in tense, number, and gender.
But blogging, like news reporting, does not lend itself to “sitting.” I’m usually in a great hurry to get it written and posted. The days gush by like a raging river when I’m trying to research a daily topic, and seldom, if ever, do I get to write in advance. This often results in a mortifying e-mail like the one I received this morning, “Sorry to be pedantic but I think you have a typo in your title – you probably mean ‘barren’, not ‘barron’.” Ouch. If ever I wished I were an ostrich . . .
That said, the few readers who point out those errors are my heroes. Even though the piece has already gone out via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and various other feeds, at least it gets corrected for future readers. It’s still excruciating, but it’s better than letting it sit there forever—especially that title, screaming to the world in bold-faced caps, “You moron!” So, to the grammar police I send a heartfelt thank you . . . and please keep up the good work.
You must check out http://damnyouautocorrect.com/category/best-of-dyac/
Thanks for that, HB!
It doesn’t make you a moron at all Rusty, just human! Titles are particularly easy to miss when proof reading I find, as your eye naturally skips over them. And it was only one letter wrong. For me the worst thing is when people keep getting ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ wrong, which seems to keep happening everywhere lately and makes me cringe inside every time.
The thing that makes me cringe is “its” and “it’s.” I always say “it is” aloud to make sure that’s what I mean.
My personal irritant is the incorrect usage of “then” and “than,” it is surprisingly rampant, even among the educated. It drives me bonkers.
“Never proofread on the same day you write” is a great tip. Thanks!
I sympathize. I do exactly the same thing. When you’re certain you know your English inside and out, it’s easy to ignore a typo just because you can’t believe you would actually do something that silly 🙂
One thing that helps, if I’m absolutely determined not to miss any embarrassing mistakes, is to read what I’ve written aloud. It slows my mind down just enough to force me to pay attention to every word and punctuation mark.
The read aloud thing works well, as long as no one is around. Even the dog thinks I’m nuts.