Life as a Walking Typo

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TYPO
Image by grafician

Yes, I know. There’s a typo.

Almost everything I write has a typo.

Before you rush to deliver an admonishment or advise about proofing more, the fine art of editing, blah, blah, blah, please wait.

Believe it or not, I proof these posts, as many as five or six times before publishing.

No matter how many times I proof an elusive typo seems to appear. Even the posts that seem OK always have a few sentences that could be tightened, more active, or simply rephrased.

Let’s not even talk about social network and blog comments.

Baggage Alert

Woody Allen
Image by Steve Bahcall

Don’t think I wasn’t “classically trained” as a writer. I graduated from American with a Literature degree. To graduate, I had to write a novella.

Further, I received a Masters in Communications, Culture and Technology from Georgetown, and graduated with distinction. My masters thesis on wireless Internet diffusion was published by the Strategis Group.

For crying out loud, my father was managing editor of the Philadelphia Daily News. Talk about the most maniacal editor ever. I still have bad feelings about the hard lessons dealt through his red pen.

Perhaps I’m a mama’s boy. And my Mom — Jacqueline Bigar, a syndicated astrologer in more than 200 daily newspapers — creates a lot of typos in her raw copy. Of course, she has the benefit of a professional editor.

Whatever the pathological cause, this deeply rooted problem plagues me.

Which is worse, that I know I’m this crazy, or that I identify with Woody Allen?

Publishing with Imperfection

Flaw
Image by FelixPagaimo

The purists say you shouldn’t post with typos. Sorry, they’re wrong.

If I let my typo problem prevent me from publishing blogs, I would have been a non-factor in this business.

At some point you have to drop the rock, and say good will have to be enough.

Have I lost the “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” perfectionists? Probably.

Do I give up?

Hell no!

My writing has improved dramatically since my professional writing career began in 1994. It continued to improve through the past seven years of blogging and book writing.

I will grow as a writer with the coming years.

Each post here will be proofed by me. It’s the only way to get better.

Maybe before it’s all said and done, my tactical writing and editing skills will be perfect.

Until then, I’ll just have to accept the typos. I hope you’ll forgive me for my greatest writing flaw.

Do you struggle with writing?

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  • http://twitter.com/KDillabough Kaarina Dillabough

    I know this is a little “off”, but your post reminds me of wabi sabi: finding the beauty of things imperfect…like a post with a typo:) As Leonard Cohen wrote:
    “Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There’s a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in.”

    Now I’m going to see if I have a typo in there:) Cheers! Kaarina P.S. How did Georgetown go?

    • geofflivingston

      I love that, that’s how the light gets in. What a nice poem!

      Georgetown went really, really well. Great class environment, super engaged students! The dean for sports management was in attendance, and talked to me for about 5 minutes afterwards… Who knows, right?

      • http://twitter.com/KDillabough Kaarina Dillabough

        Ah…I sense great things in store:)

  • Amy

    Who among us hasn’t lived the dreaded typo? I’d hate to think it would stop you – or anyone with a point of view to share – from writing.

    • geofflivingston

      Ha, I had a killer on the other day. Poor Ifdy Perez must have spewed her coffee!

  • http://twitter.com/allenmireles Allen Mireles

    I love this post and identify with it absolutely (sans the impressive pedigree, of course but then…I can float on my back, so there’s that). I’m waiting with great anticipation for the post that addresses overuse of parentheses and emoticons, which as you know, I am guilty of. (I can’t help it, I think in parentheses and i always want me to clearly understand if I’m trying to be funny.) ;)

    • http://twitter.com/KDillabough Kaarina Dillabough

      You are a woman after my own heart:)

    • geofflivingston

      You’ve got an impressive career, Allen. I’m sure a book is in your future. I think there comes a point where we have writing “signatures,” the marks of good and bad grammar that make our style (uniquely) ours. ;)

      Thanks for the shares, too!

  • http://twitter.com/JoeCascio Joe Cascio

    Hey nobody’s perfect, but it’s clear that al least you care about creating quality work and understand why good English is important. Many people not only don’t know the rules of grammar, spelling and usage, they don’t even care that their sloppy writing makes them looks like uneducated fools.

    The key to eliminating typos is to have someone else proofread your work. For important pieces, I always have my wife read over my writing. A different pair of eyes just sees things you’ll miss. If you have a blogging buddy, may you could proofread each other’s work?

    • geofflivingston

      I am so competitive about blog posts and topics that I’d never let blog buddy see my works. It’s a good idea, but they’d have to be in a completely different circle, otherwise I’d never do it. I hope to be successful enough to hire an editor soon.

  • abona

    I think the hardest thing for a writer
    is to copy edit his/hers own work; your brilliant brain self corrects so you
    don’t see the error. I have tried all the editing tricks, and I still have
    typos. So unless I have turned Public Phone into Pubic Phone (a headline
    Forester Research issued in a press release years ago in bold big letters,) I
    think readers will forgive my problem. I certainly forgive everyone else’s
    typos because I know it is a way of life for a writer.

    • geofflivingston

      You always told me this when I wrote for you. I learned a lot from you, Andrea, including how to write on demand. Thank you for that!

  • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

    You know I love the English language and I probably AM one of those Eats, Shoots & Leaves perfectionists. But I’ve never seen anything you’ve published ripe with typos. Emails once or twice, but I tend to think that’s more autocorrect (or fat fingers) than you. We all make mistakes. We all have one or two typos. Heck, I published today’s post and re-read it on the screen and saw two that I fixed immediately. So stop being so hard on yourself!

    • geofflivingston

      LOL. I am not alone. Yeah, the self talk is brutal. It also gives me relentless drive to improve and succeed. Thanks for commenting!

  • http://www.patricia-weber.com Patricia Weber

    Heck, I’ve seen typos in hard back and paper back books! What does THAT mean? It means that if you love writing you write, if you love proofing you – get someone else to proof and move on to the next piece of writing.

    • geofflivingston

      It means the publishing industry has hit the skids! But we knew that, already. One of the reasons why I love my new publisher is their lack of typos. The first one was a bloody nightmare.

  • Ben Moore

    I love the philosophy that the more you write the better you get, so true, may writers point out that reading is an important part of writing e.g. picking up Evelyn Waugh recently helped me finish a blog which was giving me terrible trouble.

    • geofflivingston

      Such a good point. I’ve been reading fiction again lately and it’s restoring a great love for the language and writing style.

  • http://www.commstrategies.com/ Joel Don

    And I thought I was the only one suffering this lexicological disorder. Interesting that every book I have downloaded to my Kindle so far has typos in the form of wrong or missing words (despite review by writers, editors and friends). All this upload/download technology and there’s still no way for publishers to push out corrections. (Sorry, even “Round” was not immune).

    • geofflivingston

      That’s true, Round had a couple, but much fewer than my prior books, thank God. LOL. Typos, sigh.

  • http://www.engag.io/Abdallah Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Thanks for writing this post – I have been pondering the same question regarding my many comments. I typically like to comment and be authentic and honest with whats on my mind. This process is severely inhibited if I stop and edit too carefully every post. So I write my comment with the emphasize on getting my point across, make quick obvious spelling corrections and post. This has been critical for me personally to ensure that I continue contributing content. Occasionally, when I re-read my comment (usually after a response) I do spot few mistakes which bugs me a bit but I am comforted be the fact that at least my comment generated a conversation.

    • geofflivingston

      It’s one of the biggest reasons I really dislike LiveFyre. Disqus is much easier to correct your blatant typos with… But in the end, I’d much rather comment then not at all.

      • http://www.engag.io/Abdallah Abdallah Al-Hakim

        Yes. I do love the editing features on Disqus – there has been a numerous times that I was super grateful for having this feature

  • http://joshuawilner.com/ Josh

    Fear of typos is just one more thing that leads to paralysis of analysis. I refuse to allow concerns about the occasional typo prevent me from publishing.

    Most of the content we produce can be improved upon. There are relatively few pieces that you cannot make stronger by writing and rewriting them.

    But unless you have unlimited time you have no choice but to click publish and hope your work is clean.

    Better to try and fail than fail to try.

    • geofflivingston

      I agree. It’s one of the reasons I really dislike the finger-wagging Eats, Shoots and Leaves folks. Thanks for the comment!

  • http://twitter.com/TheChiefAlien HowieG

    I lov when I see a Typo!

    Unless it changes dramatically the intent the people to nit pick this stuff are really more OCD than helpful.

    This happens in politics when instead of discussing intent a sound bite get’s taken and twisted out of context ‘We Built This’ for example.

    People really have to start looking at meaning and not the superficial stuff like Typos.

    • geofflivingston

      I definitely agree! LOL! Words are funny lots of context for big issues where there really should be none. Hope you are doing well!

  • Dan Armishaw

    I have my wife look over my posts but the point here is valid. Eventually, you just need to get it out the door. Posting is shipping!

    • geofflivingston

      I wish that was the bulletproof solutions for me!

  • http://bekdavis.com/ Bek Davis

    I love this post. I am queen of typos. Even after proofing, proofing, and reproofing…I still find them. Happy to know I’m not alone.

    • geofflivingston

      We are many, we are legiun (typo intended).

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Typos happen. As long as you’re not a walking grammatical disaster, I let typos slide :) I’m benevolent like that.

    • geofflivingston

      Well, thank goodness for that. :P

  • http://www.MyMeetingPro.com/ Dale Perryman

    Thanks for easing the typo pressure just a little.

    • geofflivingston

      LOL, glad to hear it was helpful.

  • http://inspiretothrive.com/ Lisa Buben

    Typos do happen and if you fear them you’ll never publish

    • geofflivingston

      Yes, sometimes you just have to push send!

  • http://twitter.com/JonMikelBailey Jon-Mikel Bailey

    Plus, you can always log in and change the typo that you or maybe one other person noticed. This type of thing always makes me think of Chinese Democracy. We waited how long for the new GnR album? Because it had to be perfect! And by the time it was out the fascination had long since past and we were left with an OK album (full disclosure: I’m not really much of a GnR fan).

  • http://twitter.com/OMRookie Lillian Leon

    Haha, I love this post Geoff! Being a copywriter and proofreader, I’m forever kicking myself when I spot a typo in my own work. The great thing about being online is you CAN fix the error. In print it’s a totally different kettle of fish and I avoid re-reading at all cost!

    Ahhh… I feel so much better now. Will share! Thanks!! :)

    • geofflivingston

      LOL, glad it was useful!

  • Kahill

    I am faced with this every day, the pressure from grammar Nazis on social media is so overwhelming… i am not giving up, i will still blog away. ;-)

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