As a writer, I read a lot; lots of posts, blogs and articles every day, mainly about marketing and business but also pop culture. I also typically read a book a week. Reading informs me, inspires me and makes me a better writer. I would say about one-third of what I read every day is really well written. The other, although it may have some good ideas, lacks a clear voice and often is too long and uses language that is harder to digest for the masses. I am a big supporter of having a large vocabulary and using it to be expressive; however, most content should be super simple to understand (as in dictionary not required) and should be 500 words or less. Brevity is a beautiful thing.
But I think what breaks my heart as a lover of words and writing is to see grammatical errors and typos. For me, it just rips away any authority you built; I can’t take you seriously, especially if you are by profession a writer, communicator or marketer. Now, I’m not saying I’m immune to such errors. I’ve certainly published things with errors. But I caught them eventually or someone else did (big shout out to my SO for finding an error in one of my posts from last week. He has excellent grammar and he’s super cute – lucky me!). But when I read your articles and posts (some published by major websites or magazines), and find errors, my brain kind of shuts down. Yes, I continue reading, but I’m turned off.
We all have things that bother us or turn us off. In addition to being repelled by bad grammar, I also can’t handle bad eyebrows or a monobrow. I’m sorry, but these traits among a few others make me discount someone as a person slightly. I’m not saying it’s right; it’s just my reaction.
So when I read well researched articles moving toward some interesting insight then come upon apostrophes used incorrectly or incorrect usage of punctuation with quotation marks, I have to question how much care you put into your writing. When I see a post littered with typos, I know you didn’t take the time to proof it. So why should I take the time to read it?
I just want writers to take as much care reviewing the work as they do when they initially write it. Don’t be in such a rush to post that you overlook this key step. If you are a professional writer, meaning you actually get paid to write, and still commit these sins then my concern is even greater. For those of you who aren’t professionals, here are some tips:
1. Have someone else proofread your work. Don’t know anyone? Send it to me.
2. If you are unsure about the correct use of a term or what is grammatically correct, Google it.
3. Unsure if your piece is clear and readable? Try the Hemingway App. It will help you edit, call to your attention when sentences are hard to read and prevent you from using passive voice.
4. Use spell check. Seems simple enough; yet so many do not.
5. Read it out loud. I try to do this with everything I write. It helps me self-edit as well as catch areas where I may have missed a word.
In this world, everyone can be a writer. Everyone can be published. Should everyone? Probably not, but I’m not going tell someone they shouldn’t do something. That’s not my place. Writing can be very cathartic. It can help people express what they can’t say. I’m all for this and for celebrating good ideas. I just encourage all writers to remember that the finished product should be something that should resonate with your audience. Errors detract from your message. Keep your readers interested with a wonderful use of words, snappy syntax and great storytelling. Leave the errors in the drafts, and please don’t ever be the victim of a monobrow.