Every writer who’s ever slaved over a web page, blog or media release has suffered from ‘copy blindness’. Here are two simple things you can do to ensure your writing shines with professional polish.
The simple cure for ‘copy blindness’
So, what’s copy blindness, you ask? It’s when you invest so much time and effort into writing a new web page, blog or media release (anything really) that you can’t spot its flaws.
Flaws! Whatdayamean flaws! What flaws!
Sorry to break this to you, but even professional writers make mistakes. They rely on editors to spot the flaws and rectify them.
Well, that’s what should happen. As a former newspaper editor, one of my pet peeves is seeing the number of simple typos and grammatical errors that litter my local newspapers because trained subeditors and proof-readers have largely gone the way of the Dodo. On many regional Australian newspapers today, overworked journalists edit and proofread their own copy. Sadly, the results are there for the dwindling number of keen-eyed newspaper readers to see.
Of course, these errors are a relatively minor irritation. Imagine how many red-faces there were at the Reserve Bank of Australia after the word “responsibility” was misspelt as “responsibilty” (third “i” was missing) on 46 million of our $50 notes recently. Indeed, a black ‘i’ for someone.
Here are two simple steps you can take to avoid copy blindness and make your writing more polished and professional.
1 – Phone a friend
If you’re going to be writing regularly (or even occasionally) but can’t afford a professional to produce or edit your copy, find a friend or acquaintance with better than average literacy who’s prepared to at least check your grammar, punctuation and spelling. Ask them to turn on MS Word’s Track Changes function so you can see (and learn from) any changes they’ve made. If it’s not pushing the friendship too far, ask them to add their unvarnished feedback. If they find bigger issues than typos, chances are other readers will too.
2 – Sleep on it
It’s amazing what a difference revisiting your copy the following day can make. Almost invariably, I make changes that (hopefully) improve my work: fixing a spelling error, adding a missing comma, removing a superfluous sentence, writing a better heading, or explaining a point more succinctly. Remember, less is more – your readers are time poor.
Next-day reviewing is even more important if you don’t have friendly reviewer.
If you can’t find someone to review your copy with a critical, objective eye, aim to come back to it the next day – or at least a few hours later – before giving your copy one final review and hitting ‘publish’. It’s a good habit and your writing will be all the better for it.
– Laurie Sullivan. © Cre8ive Solutions 2019.