The freelance writing community is getting a little paranoid. I find I can’t hold a casual online conversation with someone without that person apologizing for typos or errors. It’s getting a little silly. Excellent writers are posting thought provoking comments on blogs and in forums, and then turn around and post again apologizing for typos most others wouldn’t have noticed in the first place.
Relax, people. You’re human. You’re allowed to make mistakes.
When Freelance Writers Should Mind Their Typos
The purpose of this post isn’t to say we shouldn’t be diligent about our writing and do our best to ensure clean writing every time. Mostly it’s to say we don’t have to be so paranoid about our writing when we’re having an online water cooler conversation.
Just as there are times we should take extra care, there are times when we can relax a bit. I am always extra careful when turning in client projects or when applying for gigs, sending official correspondences, and on anything I consider “formal” writing. However, when I’m writing a letter to Dear Diary, I’m pretty sure I don’t need the grammar police looking over my shoulder. While I do try and be conscious of my errors (and many of you write to let me know when I miss the mark ) my genuine rule of thumb is to be particularly mindful when I have something to gain. For example, if a client is paying me, I’m creating a sign, or if I have to write a letter to my Congressman. If I’m posting a comment in a casual discussion forum and I “your” when I should have “you’re ‘d” I’m not going to be bothered by it too much.
You shouldn’t take it to heart, either.
Very Few People Give a Crap if You Forgot a Letter or Added an Apostrophe
I’m not decrepit, but I’m no spring chicken. I like to think I’ve been around the block a few times. Over the past four and a half decades, I have yet to find a person who is perfect. I’ll even go as far as to say that most people make at least a mistake a day, and many go beyond that. Yeah, there are the sticklers (Lynne Truss, I’m talking to you!), but I’m sure even the sticklers would agree that it’s OK for folks to let their guard down once in a while. If I’m having a conversation with another writer, I’m not going to be talking in the AP Format. I might notice horribly poor grammar (My pet peeve is “Where’s it at?” ) but there’s a difference between improper usage and honest mistakes. Only people with superiority complexes complain about honest mistakes in casual conversation , most people couldn’t care less or they realize a mistake for what it is and mind their manners.
Lighten Up, People. Everyone Make Mistakes Once in a While
Because the not-so silent minority are now policing the social networks to ensure we’re not “righting” when we should be “writing,” freelance writers are paranoid they’ll be called out as bad writers if they make the slightest mistake. Not a day goes by that I don’t see a casual conversation among writers where one apologizes to another for a typo. Both sides need to lighten up. We’re people, people, and we make mistakes. No one is going to think you’re a poor writer for having typos. Show me a writer who has never made an error, and I’ll show you a liar.
You know why you don’t see popular novelists or journlists making many mistakes in their writing? Because editors are proofing their work. What you see is the finished product. Chances are, those writers made a few errors before going to press.Of course I cringe when I see major gaffes in magazines or misspelled signs, but having gaffes get past a professional proofreader is a hell of a lot different than than a misplaced apostrophe in a Facebook comment.
You’ll probably find typos all over this blog, and even some on Twitter and Facebook…and you know what? I don’t care. If Facebook wants to pay me for turning in clean writing, I can certainly be more diligent. However, if I’m participating in casual conversation and the odd typo comes out, I don’t owe anyone an apology.
There’s no excuse for improper grammar, but we don’t need to be so paranoid we’re constantly (publicly) apologizing for forgetting a comma or adding an apostrophe.
Go ahead, make a typo. I’ll still respect you in the morning.