I am frequently reminded just how kind and understanding my readers are when they write, politely, to point out typos and other infelicities in my posts. There is never any sense of annoyance with these typos. Indeed, the feeling I get from these readers is the same feel I recall getting from teachers who wanted me to succeed. I try to respond to these readers quickly by thanking them, and fixing the problems that they have pointed out.
Of course, it isn’t my readers’ responsibility to ensure that my posts are typo-free. That burden rests with me. I have excuses for this. I have often borrowed Isaac Asimov’s excuse for having typos in his manuscripts: I willingly trade accuracy for speed. I have limited time during the day and I write these posts quickly, and I don’t always re-read them after I write them, even though I always intend to. But I can and should do better.
Interestingly, I am fastidious about bugs in code I write. I take extra pains to handle exceptions, and I work closely with our quality assurance team to make sure that they uncover anything I’ve missed before the actual users of the software find them. It seems only fair that I treat my readers the same way.
In traditional publications, this quality assurance often happens at the editorial level, with editors and proofreaders going through a piece to make sure no such errors exist–or to minimize them to the best of their ability. With a standalone blog, I am writer, editor, and proofreader. I’m pretty good at about one-third of that job.
But I am trying to do better–for the sake of those readers who stick around, and are kind enough to politely point out my mistakes. And I think I’ve hit on a way to do this. For the last month or so, I have been aiming to write two posts each day, which allows me to build up a scheduled backlog of posts, and gives me breathing room for particularly busy days when I can’t get any writing done, or when I am too mentally drained to write. This post, for instance, is being written on February 11, 2022, but it is likely that you won’t be reading it until at least a week later.
It occurred to me that this delay has some advantages. In the past, I’d write a post and publish it almost within the same breath. Now, with a delay between writing and publishing of a week or more, I can get some distance between myself and the post. I’ve often found that distance helps me see what I’ve written more clearly. In addition, I’ve started a process whereby I review the next day’s schedule post the night before it is due to be published. This review allows me to re-read the post with some distance, and provides me with an opportunity to catch typos, correct errors in logic, and sometimes even, completely rewrite a post1.
I’m not saying that this new process will eliminate all of the typos that end up in my posts. But it is my attempt to do better. Readers deserve that effort.
Written on February 11, 2022.
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