I am more a visionary looking at the big picture than the minute details. I am better at seeing the errors in other people’s writing, concepts, strategies than my own- but who isn’t right?
The important thing is I know my strengths and weaknesses. Now it is time to start acting on them.
From a young age, I was showed that spelling and grammar were not my strong suite. At the age of 12, I went away my first year to sleep away camp and would write home frequently.
I don’t recall writing to my brother but he must have been so excited to hear from me that he read my letters and wrote me back. As he was an enthusiastic student and budding writer his letters to me were more creative than I had imagined.
When I received his letter I was excited to get mail. It makes you feel important when mail arrives for you. My excitement faded when disappointment set in. The letter was not a letter written to me, but the letter I sent home. It was hardly recognizable behind the red pen marks correcting my grammar and spelling. There was so much red it was hard to see the original letter. I was not impressed and did not correct it. I think that may have discouraged me from writing home as much.
Funny, I later found out he corrected the grammar of the graffiti in the college bathrooms. At least they wrote something back for him to read.
When I went off to college, my same brother bought me a spell checker electronic unit. At the time we didn’t have a spell checker on the computers so it was like a digital dictionary providing you with the proper spelling. I guess I should be thrilled that my brother, yet again, was trying to help me be better. I guess I was not yet into self-development as this “favor” also went unappreciated and unused.
A few months ago, my brother sent me another reminder. Now I am old enough to appreciate the value of this gift. Every time he reads my book, a blog of mine, my website or a brochure he finds a mistake. I know this is something that can reflect poorly on me, and it is my nature to focus on the content and not these details. It continues to be a challenge for me to this day. To many people seeing my content for the first time, these details matter. I have had people say they couldn’t focus on my presentation any further because there was a spelling error.
I finally realize I need to take better care.
So what he sent me this time was a productivity app and plugin for my browser called Grammarly. I love it. I get to see all the red marks that work doesn’t seem to pick up and can make those changes before it gets published. Install this productivity app because it is important to pay attention to thee details and we need productivity apps to support us and provide the structure to do what we know.
In addition to the productivity app, here are a few other manual tricks to keeping your emails, brochures, and other texts error-free.
• Read what you’ve written out loud. You will catch the errors quicker when reading it out loud.
• Increase the font size. Squinting isn’t helping you read the passage or find the errors. Using extra-large text helps to enable easier reading.
• Let someone else read it. 4 eyes are better than 2. They will almost always see something you did not because you have looked at it so many times you see what it is supposed to be.
• Print it out. You will catch more mistakes when you print it to read it.
• Read the whole thing from start to finish.
No one understands better than me that spelling and grammar may not be your strong point. It is still up to you to deliver quality. You need to put the controls in place, take the extra time necessary and get the productivity apps and technology to support you and your efforts. It is possible something slips through the cracks but at least you can say you put in the effort.