I was very happy and excited to launch the website for words with cowbell yesterday. After shouting it out on social media, a couple of friends* gave me the heads-up on some writing issues, one of which was a typo. Irritated with myself, I corrected it immediately.
This morning, while I was revising the other issue—an admittedly awkward turn of phrase—I noticed a second typo. And this one didn’t only appear on the website, it had been copied over from my one-page promo doc! I was mortified.
How could I expect people to trust me with their copy editing and writing needs when I was making mistakes with my own writing? After some moments of mental self-flagellation, I realized that this was a perfect example of why people need copy editors and proofreaders. You need another pair of eyes on your work.
For those of us who write—even those of us who are good at it and enjoy it immensely—we know in our hearts and minds what we want to say; and when we read it over, it looks perfectly fine. Sometimes, however, it may not appear on the page exactly as we’re seeing it. This is because we’re so close to it, and know it so well in our heads, that our minds fill in missing words and gloss over typos. And, let’s face it, life gets crazy busy and fatigue-related errors happen.
This is precisely why we need a second pair of eyes on our copy. Spell check, even if we remember to use it, is a good secondary support tool—but can only do so much. Your primary support needs to be another person reading your copy; preferably someone trained and/or experienced to do so.
Like I told myself this morning: Don’t be sorry, be better.
* With thanks to David Nicholson and John Oughton.