Does your editor ever mention typos, missed words or homonyms? Have you ever gone back to read a draft you submitted a few days ago, only to discover embarrassing misspellings and poor grammar? If so, you’re not alone!
It’s remarkably difficult to self-edit your work to 100% perfection. Why? The brain and the eyes have a complex relationship, and the bottom line is they often fail to communicate effectively. Though the eyes usually see mistakes on a page, the brain may refuse to acknowledge them.
Instead of making sure you see them, it masks the error by showing you what it knows you meant to write. It amounts to a cruel game of bait-n-switch in your own head. However, there are a multitude of tricks you can utilize to help your work get closer to perfection.
1. Proofread with Fresh Eyes
Few tools are more effective than rested, “fresh” eyes. You know that heavy, sandpaper-like feel your eyes take on after staring at a screen for several hours? Newsflash: those fatigued eyeballs aren’t going to do you or your work any justice.
Take some time away from the screen, ideally come back to it the next day and proofread your writing with fresh eyes. Do it before you dig into emails, catch up on Facebook or do anything else that involves a screen. You’ll be amazed at the mistakes your bright eyes catch!
2. Read Aloud
Though you might feel silly reading what you wrote to nobody in particular, it’s a remarkably useful exercise that engages the mind, ears, mouth and eyes, as opposed to just the mind and eyes. While uttering the words you wrote, you’ll:
- Discover basic mistakes like typos and missed words
- Quickly identify verbose clauses
- Recognize inconsistent pluralisms
- Trip over poorly constructed sentences that can easily slip by on a visual-only review
3. Proofread on a Different Medium
Change will do you good! Load the document on your smartphone, tablet or print a hard copy. Take it somewhere outsides your normal workspace, like the couch, coffee shop, bus or even to read in the car between errands (Please, don’t read while driving!).
You’ll be amazed at how many little mistakes show themselves when you review your writing a different screen or even and old-fashioned piece of paper.
These simple tricks can help you polish your writing and submit better quality work, ultimately helping you grow and hone your craft. The underlying theme is the eyes and brain are not to be trusted when it’s time to proofread. Especially after a long day of work!