Can you write? You bet'cha.
You write all the time – especially now that you're online. All those emails and comments on forums have brought us to a new level of literacy. Even the youngest among us have a pretty good handle on how to put a computer keyboard to good use.
Hmm, I wonder what my high school teachers would think about that. Back when I was in high school, I wasn't allowed to take a typing class because "you're going to college and you're not going to need that". I taught myself by getting on an old manual typewriter with a novel in front of me…typing as I read word for word, cover to cover. It was a grueling exercise but it got me where I was going.
Be that as it may, the physical act of putting the written word into a readable format is a process not to be taken lightly… whether it be a shopping list, a note that you won't be home for dinner, an email, a tweet, whatever.
The key is to get thoughts from your brain to something (paper, computer screen) so that others can understand what you would say to them in person if you were face-to-face, belly-to-belly. But that's just the first step.
In most cases when dealing one-on-one, in an email to a friend, for example, it may not make much difference if your finger slips and you have a mis-spelled word or two….usually.
But what happens if you type a link address wrong? What happens of a complete stranger – a prospective employer, for example – reads what you've written and sees basic errors?
If you're doing anything online…operating a blog, maintaining a website, writing email – even if you tweet – you're a writer. Your style may vary and your market will, too. No, you're not writing a great American novel or a technical tome; but, you are putting your thoughts out there for someone to read. Your reader may well understand what you're saying when you type "OICURA Nerd" But, then again, he or she may not. Be careful.
Internet is not a vehicle for temporary, disposable communication. What you write today will be out there for the world to find for years to come. One letter wrong in a link can render your information useless. I can't tell you how many marketing experts have lost my attention forever because they sent me a mis-spelled hyperlink.
Professional writers understand well the importance of proofreading their work. They take great pains to avoid typographical catastrophes. They work hard to eliminate errors. Some effective methods they use to avoid errors include:
- Spell check and grammar check
- Set aside work for several days and read again
- Print digital files and read the hard copy for accuracy
- Re-read text upside down and backwards
- Ask two or three others to read what is written
- Hire an editor and a proofreader
Even then, errors invariably creep into the finished work. It's the nature of the beast. I'd wager there's not a writer alive who can honestly say they've never written something that didn't have a mistake in it.
The challenge is that Internet just doesn't function that way. We all write and read beyond the speed of light. We hit the "Send" button often before our brains properly process our thoughts. While most skim and don't catch the typos and mis-spellings, there are those who pay attention to every detail. And, there's still the issue of mis-typed addresses and hyperlinks.
What to do?
- Always, always read what you've written at least once from start to finish before clicking that "Send" button and before posting anything online.
- Check, and double check, all those hyperlinks. (Click on them to be sure they are correct.)
- Ask yourself. "Have I written anything that could be mis-understood or anything that can't be checked and verified?"
If you're going to write – make sure it's right! Writing is serious business…and well worth the time it takes to assure that your readers will welcome your work.