“No matter what type of writing you do, it can be easy to miss your own mistakes in the editing process. Since you wrote the words, you often read what you intended to write (and not what is actually written). You can’t see any flaws in your writing because you’re just too close to it.”-Allison Vannest on Grammarly.com
I just wrote a post on Stream of Consciousness Saturday about my frustration at missing errors or omissions in my writing of a short story I wanted to submit for a writing challenge. Part of the problem may have been some fatigue, and when I finish a post, I like to publish it pretty quickly. I was not taking enough time for proofreading and editing. So I had submitted my story and then discovered some mistakes. It was embarrassing, and I reached out to the hosts of the website, but there was nothing to remedy it. One error was that I left out a preposition which caused a sentence to not make sense. I could have sworn I had typed the word, but it was probably in my brain and not getting transferred to my fingers. I had re-read my story a few times, but each time I missed the errors. I later realized that in my hurry to submit the story I did not do a good job at all.
I did some brief research and found a handout online on editing and proofreading with some suggestions that explained how this kind of thing can happen even though I was reading over my writing. The handout states, “When you read silently or too quickly, you may skip over errors or make unconscious corrections.” Unconscious corrections, I wrote about this in my SOC post on Saturday, our brains will fill in or correct what is on the page as we read. So the handout suggests, and as a friend writer commented on my post, “try reading out loud, which forces you to say each word and also lets you hear how the words sound together.” There were some other tips for checking spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Another suggestion was to separate the text into individual sentences and “altering the size, spacing, color, or style of the text may trick your brain into thinking it’s seeing an unfamiliar document, and that can help you get a different perspective on what you’ve written.”
Grammarly has been recommended to me by a couple of writers, and I have added it to my computer. Wondering if this automated proofreader is better than asking a fellow human to check my writing. A reason why I am leery of another human (editor) checking my writing is that it feels a bit intrusive. You need to trust the person to be sensitive and hopefully supportive. A disturbing thought about automated editors like Grammarly, it is changing your writing. I’m not talking about correcting spelling or punctuation so much but if it suggests different words or styles like the Premium version claims it does. So is it really your writing after it gets through?
I proofread my short story with Grammarly Premium, and I found more errors. My most frequent one was leaving out commas, then I had some repeat words. Grammarly did not discover the mistake that I found myself, which had completely messed up one of the sentences. So even though my sentence was grammatically correct, it was still wrong. WordPress proofreader missed a lot more.
I am definitely going to put some of these suggestions to work and keep using Grammarly for now. Have you run into a problem with missed errors in your writing and what tools have you found helpful to address it? Do you prefer human or automated editors?
“Editing and Proofreading Handout,” The Writing Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
“5 Tips for Editing Your Own Work,” by Allison Vannest on Grammarly.com ( similar but fewer tips than The Writing Center Handout but also recommends using Grammarly).
Featured Image ‘Anna Brassey, Victorian Woman Writing Journal,1883’ via wikimedia.org