Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Rush" Is a Four-Letter Word

As a professional writer, I have a quick eye for typos, which can make ordinary reading an often annoying and sometimes hilarious experience. Did our grandparents really "have their milk delivered directly form the dairy"? Would you like to "take a peak at all the software options available today"? And how many people actually know the difference between its and it's?

I own books from every decade back to the 1960s, and as far as I can tell, accurate proofreading at major publishers has been in decline since the spell checker was invented. Those spell checkers, created to eliminate typos, seem instead to be giving writers one more excuse for laziness....

Or is it laziness that dismisses the need to proofread personally? Are business owners, working hard to all appearances, turning out sloppy social media writing because they "don't have time" to proofread--and sending brochures to the printer with unnoticed typos because they "don't have a week" to let the text sit so they can come back to it with fresh eyes? Is the underlying reason the same one that causes sleep deprivation and 70-hour work weeks: society has been conditioned to value quantity over quality? Until, of course, one becomes the customer whose order was lost in the crush, or the driver whose car was dented by someone hurrying to meet a delivery schedule. Or the shopper who goes to the wrong address because a harried copywriter mistyped the number. Rush is ultimately the worst enemy of success.

The best defensive weapon is a little planning. I try to allow at least one full hour for preparing a blog or social media post of my own, and a minimum of one week per 500 words when doing a project for someone else. I may never win a prize for greatest number of projects per month, but my work is rarely featured in "The Funniest Writing I've Seen" forums either.

A bestselling book of the early 1990s asked, If You Haven't Got the Time to Do It Right, When Will You Find the Time to Do It Over? Twenty years later, most businesspeople still forget to ask themselves that question. If you apply it to your writing, you'll gain a marked advantage in making a professional impression.

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