Do You Make the Same Writing Mistakes Over and Over? Try This.

This is a simple proofreading tip I have kept in my bag of tricks since my early days as a writer.

Spelling and wrong word usage are a bugaboos for many writers. I am a bad speller and often don’t recognize similar words when I proof my own work.

Proofreading your own work is the hardest part of writing, but you must master it.

Here’s an example, in the play Winter Sunrise I used the word ‘bowel’ in place of ‘bowl’ not once, but throughout the play. How bad could it be, right? That word isn’t used that often. This play hinged on a carved wood bowl the son made for the father. The word was used a lot and at the most important moments of the play. Another example is the word lion. I often type it loin. In both cases the words are not spelled wrong and are the same part of speech (nouns) so spell and grammar checks do not catch them. The post “Writer’s Block: A Leap Off the Lion’s Head” on this blog had ‘loin’ instead of ‘lion’ every single time, including the title! I hope I corrected them all.

To combat these hilarious, but devastating mistakes; I keep a list of words I know I type wrong, confuse or consistently use incorrectly. Here is a condensed version of the list:

Check Word List

I – I tend to type ‘a’ for ‘I’ and vice versa


Their, there, they’re

Then, than



(There are more.)

I run each word through the search and replace and check the usage in the sentence. This forces me to see the sentence out of context; the best way to see it as it appears on the paper. When I do a regular read-through, I tend to get caught-up in meaning, character and improving the the over-all effect of the words and not the words themselves.

Important words in the project I am proofing, like the bowl in Winter Sunrise, also get checked. They change with each project.

This has helped me a to correct my mistakes, but it is not fool proof. For the VIW stuff, I still have one or two other people proof it before I send it anywhere.

The exceptions are these blog posts. I proof these myself. It is great practice.

Proofreading improves with practice.

Do you have a proofing tip?

10 responses to “Do You Make the Same Writing Mistakes Over and Over? Try This.”

  1. To check for spelling errors, I’ve heard of reading your work backwards so you can see each word on its own, not in a context in which your brain will fill in the meaning and, thus, possibly overlook incorrect spelling. I have to admit that I rarely do this simply because it’s so time consuming, but I have done it a couple times when it’s something super important (like a resume).


  2. I love m thesaurus (even if I can’t pronounce it!), but I find 2 things help my proofreading: when I write my blog, I always read it thru on the preview. I have reread and reread it on the editing page, seeing it on the blog page changes my view and I tend to find more mistakes. And I read it out loud to see if it makes sense. I have heard that proofreading a project backwards forces you to focus on the words vs. distraction of the content, but I just find it annoying!!


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