About Those Pesky Mistakes In Writing

“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

Insecure Writers Support Group, #IWSG, Co-Hosts: Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham,Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner!

17 thoughts on “About Those Pesky Mistakes In Writing

  1. David Stringer

    I definitely need to spend more time editing before publishing – I know that I’ve published things with mistakes on my blog because, when checking them, I saw what I intended to write, rather than what was actually written down. It’s an easy mistake to make, I think the best way to handle it is just to leave a bit of time and look at what we’ve written with relatively fresh eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      Yes, that is what I read in the articles I found as well. Looking at the writing with fresh eyes could help, but I think I need to read it aloud and catch the words I may have skipped over. All of the above is probably right. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Joey

    I have the free version of grammerly and I don’t like it one bit. For every one thing it finds it flags about three things erroneously. Often the corrections change the meaning. My best editing tool is to save a document as a pdf and then pull it up in adobe reader. Something about that “publishing” step makes the mistakes jump right out.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  3. cleemckenzie

    Our brains like things to be right, so it’s natural for it to run on autofill. I hate those double double words I always miss and the omitted ones that my brain puts back in when I read my stuff. I love editors!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  4. Gwen Gardner

    We all miss words and such because our brains go faster than our fingers. You have some good solutions here. For me, I make sure I write it ahead of time and put it away, if even just for a week. It’s amazing what you find! LOL. I don’t use a proofreading program as such. I was going to buy Grammerly but the mixed reviews stopped me. I do refer to Grammerly when I have a specific grammar question though. It’s awesome for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      I think I do need to have enough time so I can put the writing away and come back to it. I will see how Grammarly works out. I do like to get explanations for grammar questions.

      Like

      Reply
  5. Dan Antion

    I am not a fan of automated grammar checkers, mainly because I like to violate rules with things that sound the way I think. I do ask my wife to read most blog posts, and a lot of my business writing. She finds commas and many errors. I don’t always agree with her, but she’s not pedantic like Grammerly.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      I’m with you on violating the rules on things that speak as I do. Grammarly is terrific with commas 😉 and some other errors. I like that it catches when I scramble a word. I guess the commas are ok too. Me and a grammar pedant seems like an odd couple for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  6. Damyanti Biswas

    I read my work aloud, change the font when I’m reading out.

    Also, one of my most effective tricks is to sleep on it, and in the morning, pretend I’m someone else, meeting this work by a crit partner. This enables me to see what is there on the page, and what that evokes, not simply the images in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  7. Liz Leighton

    I think a combination of human and automated editors. Grammarly is wrong enough times that I don’t blindly make corrections that it suggests. I do a lot of short story and novel critiques and I find errors that Grammarly doesn’t find. People that critique my work find errors that neither Grammarly or I found. Reading out loud helps., but combining the power of your own edits, the use of programs such as Grammarly, and a couple of pairs of fresh eyes(of people that are great with grammar and punctuation} and you’ll get the best results. This was an excellent post. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

Comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.