What is a proofreading mind?
I can’t let an error stand.
When writing what should be first drafts, KNOWING that they will be imperfect, and probably completely changed in the future, I can’t stop my obsessive mind from fixing EVERY typographic flaw, every incorrect word, every piece of misplaced punctuation, every spelling mistake.
I can’t read my own work to EDIT it for CONTENT when the form is somehow wrong.
I don’t fight it any more. It takes longer to fight being compulsive about ‘proper’ formatting, than it takes to just fix it and move on.
Mostly, if I make a typing mistake, my brain and fingers catch it immediately.
If it’s a new mistake, I force myself to pay attention so I am much less likely to make that particular mistake again.
I know it’s not rational behavior.
Maybe it comes from the very well of irrationality that constitutes creativity – and I SHOULDN’T interfere with it.
Many writing teachers recommend turning off the internal critic when writing first and rough drafts, ‘just to get the story out.’
I don’t seem to be able to do that.
Possibly my brain is committed to the idea that this is it, this is going to be the final version, this will be perfect, this will be published – and can’t take in the possibility that, after ALL this relentless preparation (it can take a month to write a scene), I must put out perfect prose.
Even as I know that’s not true: there has NEVER been, in my writing, a scene which came out perfect from the beginning.
Where does it come from?
As a person with CFS, I can claim brain fog – and the huge extra effort we all put in to attempt to appear normal – and NOT brain fogged.
Standards – I grew up either with books which were perfect (or, more likely, I didn’t notice their occasional defects), so I’m not willing to produce less-than-perfect (typographically, orthographically) output.
I didn’t learn English as most Americans do, in school, because I only did Kindergarten and part of first grade (or K, 1st and part of 2nd – it WAS a very long time ago) before my parents took me to Mexico to live. The English I received in the bilingual school I attended there was mostly ESL – most of my teachers were happy that I was well-behaved and had my nose in a book.
So there were few occasions when I actually had to produce something written, in English. Until my second year of college, when I had transferred to Seattle University as a junior, took Freshman English thinking I had to (nobody did much to make me aware of requirements beyond handing me the printed book), and wrote a single term paper. That came out well, I remember – and then I found out that I hadn’t needed the course because I had junior standing.
So, no more writing in college. Just mountains of reading all over the map. I’m an omnivore.
Again, I don’t remember typographical mistakes in those books.
What am I going to do about it?
I figure its opposite is worse.
Now that I’m a writer, I see typos and incorrect usages and mistakes in spelling as if they had been set in larger blood-red type.
Stamp out! Die!
The funny part? That I still find typos later – just like everyone else does.
‘Freedom from typos’ is an illusion.
We all need our illusions to survive.
If you find any of my little errors, even in posts written ages ago, PLEASE let me know my slip is showing. I will be very, very grateful.
For writers: What’s your pet illusion? The one that makes it possible to write?
For readers: What do you find unforgivable in what you read? What throws you out of the story?