Smart writers know that writing is really rewriting with a dollop of careful spooned on top.
You start every sentence with a surge of inspiration and your fingers go to work. When they lift off the keyboard, if you look closely, you’ll likely find they didn’t bang out exactly what you thought they would. There are typos. Transposed letters, missing vowels, capitalization that didn’t take.
This is where the careful comes in. Take it from someone who has suffered over the years from a zillion errors in his printed and online work: proofreading is the most important reading you will do.
You likely know this. You probably also know that proofing your own work is fraught. It’s mysterious. How can you read something three times and still miss an error that is glaring to everyone else? It has to do with the high-level task that is writing itself and how it affects your brain. Cool, right? …
So how do you get around that problem? Recently, Poynter offered some tips for proofing your own work and they are all good and worth trying.
I particularly like the tips suggesting special care with the beginning and end of your story. No matter what you do, many more people will read your first paragraph than, say, your seventh paragraph. So it behooves you to make sure that first one is picture perfect. If you misspell something in the first paragraph your readers will probably roll their eyes right off of your story.
And we know the most effective defense against mistakes is more eyes. Grab anyone to read your story on the page. Ad reps, production people — anyone. Every set of eyes is helpful.
(Oh, and, yes, I know I was misspelling “careful” in the headline!)