A good chunk of you know that I am not shy about admitting my writing mistakes. There are very few wordsmiths in existence who could claim to never ever question a word or complicated punctuation. Editors have style guides and dictionaries for a reason, and I assure you that they are well-used. You may be surprised to know that many professionals editors and writers have the same difficulties as those who write or edit as a hobby. We don’t just have trouble with severely complicated content.
And just because I am not shy about admitting that I make mistakes, it doesn’t mean that I don’t feel terribly guilty about some of them as someone who spends so much time honing their writing and editing skills.
The words and technical issues that I personally find the most daunting include:
Affect/Effect. I generally get this right now, but I still have to stop and remind myself which is the correct form prior to typing it out. No matter how many times I try to get myself to remember which is for what, I fail, so I just remember some trick with the “a” and the “e”.
Peruse: Every time I go to spell this word, I spell it “puruse”. That doesn’t even make sense. It follows virtually no English spelling rules.
Hierarchy: This one I can spell just fine, but I despise having to say it. The double “r” syllables get me every time.
Separate: I spell this as “seperate” every time. Every bloody time.
Plural Possessives: Why do these even exist? Why can’t they be their own separate words? Seniors’, Families’, and Farmers’ are words that I despise so much, I will avoid writing them if possible. I will completely rewrite a piece of content in order to stay away from the torture that these words give to me.
Capitalization: This is more of a style choice, but I hate having to make it. All caps, some caps, no caps? Consistently, only for certain titles/CTAs, or apply at random? It’s fine for one off things, but for an entire company, or even just an email campaign? Painful.
Limiting my Vocabulary: When you write the same kinds of content over and over, you start using the same words over and over. For example, when you write about real estate a lot, you begin to use “property”, “house”, and “home” intermittently. This is bad because you limit yourself to those words without exploring other options. If you are bored when you are writing, your writing will be boring.
Commas: I feel like no one actually knows all of the comma rules. I feel like it is impossible to know. In school, we were taught to use commas as pauses, but then in university I was told that that is incorrect. Then I was given a giant book full of comma rules that, though I read the pages, never actually stuck. I have a good understanding of commas, and where they are supposed to go, but I think of them like salt and pepper: too much and you will ruin everything, not enough and you will have no flavour.
There are more, but I feel like I have admitted enough of my shortfalls today. It’s actually quite cleansing in a way, to admit that though you are a professional, you still make mistakes just like everyone else. Of course, I should be held to higher standards since I claim to have expertise, but if I were to know everything there wouldn’t be any point in reading or writing left, would there?
What are you guilty of? What words drive you mad, and which punctuation rules do you fail to grasp no matter how many times you learn them?
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