Editor in Person – Why You Shouldn’t Proofread Your Own Writing

Having discussed and debated the merits of the spell check, I thought I’d take some time to talk about proofreading your own work.

If, like me, you feel you’re pretty good at picking up on mistakes, that your typing isn’t too bad, and you have a fairly good grasp of English and the grammar that goes with it, then you’ll think that you can happily proofread your own stuff. Right?

Wrong!

This has been proved to me over and over since I started writing on my blogs. No matter how many times you check it, there’s always something that you missed. And the reason is: because you are just too close to the material.

Certainly, in my case, I get caught up in what I’ve written. I might be congratulating myself on how fantastic it is (rare), or worried that I haven’t quite said what it is that I wanted to say (common). Either way, I’m simply not concentrating on the phrasing, layout and spelling as much as I should. Not helped, of course, by the pesky spell check; that, even in this piece, is questioning my use of “you’re” and “your”!

I get my lovely husband to reread everything. (He’s a great fan of the comma and feels I don’t use them enough.) And that’s enough for my little blog items. I also have some lovely friends who will politely pick me up if there’s a mistake so I can correct it quickly.

As a proofreader everything I write has to be perfect. Who’s going to hire me to proofread their writing if mine is littered with grammatical and spelling mistakes. Even social media posts are perilous. Don’t even get me started on predictive text.

Fortunately most people can happily interchange all the “they’re” and “their” and “there” they want on social media.

But if it counts, it needs to be right. Don’t just hope for the best.