I was reading a post today by a man selling a new book on using your mind and developing super awareness. There's an irony headed your way. Can you tell?
As I read each paragraph, all was well. I was learning about various ways I could improve my mind and increase productivity. I learned that most of us are just mental slobs, barely slogging our way through life, mostly unconscious and missing everything.
But I also learned that this is OK.
We can change!
We have the power to become super aware and this book details it all in detailed detailing with extra detail.
Well, I can tell you I was getting a little excited at this point. I was thinking, yeah, bring this book on! I think I'll buy that. I need super awareness yesterday. I think I'll get the wallet out.
I hit a sentence that made absolutely no sense and I was no longer interested.
It was a simple mistake. A word was missing. A simple typo; the sort of thing that happens to all of us all the time. The only problem was that I saw it first. The typo had made it to the published page.
I'd been dreaming the dream of the writer and following his every word. I'd been riding on the mind highway he'd created and it seemed smoothly paved and we were going places.
And then, suddenly, we hit a solid wall and I was lost and the dream was gone. I immediately left the page, went over to my blog and started writing instead of reading.
What the Author Lost
Notice all the things the writer wanted from me which are not happening:
- I did not keep reading.
- I did not go buy the book.
- I did not learn the author's final point.
- I did not find myself trusting the author.
And I was also driven to such distraction that it pushed me into the stratosphere of meta-cognition where I began thinking about ALL the various examples of crappy writing out there that seem to be multiplying as we push on down the road of instant, global publishing from your pocket.
Every time this happens I get to notice how I reach a certain point, a certain threshold of ignoring errors and bad grammar. After 4 or 5 errors, my evaluation system kicks in and I start suspecting I've picked up some crap. A couple more errors and that's it, I am done and gone. I have labeled the author a hack, or at least a time waster and someone to avoid in the future.
It seems the modern pressure to produce material quickly has helped justify the publishing of unproofread work.
Don't fall prey to the pressure. Crappy really isn't good enough. Eighty percent really isn't good enough when it comes to spelling and grammar and proofreading in general. And if you can't tell, hire an editor!
Here's The Opportunity
The real damage happens when you break the spell you're weaving in the reader's mind. The road between your mind and the reader's must be smooth and uninterrupted by the potholes of bad grammar and typos if you hope to transmit your message successfully.
Even a single pothole is enough to drive your reader into a brick wall and stun them into never coming back.
And they're certainly not going to buy what you're selling. So if you think it's safe to publish crappy sales letters and unedited educational marketing materials, by all means, carry on! Less competition is OK by me.
Some will say I'm dumb and this extra effort is not worth the trouble in this fast-paced age of instant-on and gimme-now knowledge. “You know what I meant!” cries the lazy writer. And to those folk, I say keep on keepin' on. I'll avoid you and you'll avoid me. Good to go.
But for the rest of us, we who want to create excellent work that stands the test of time, we can make our work better and better with a commitment to focused proofreading and awareness. We'll succeed where others are eventually run down by the typo bus and forgotten—trash on the byways of excellence.
Lastly, if you're selling super awareness and your work is filled with typos, I must say I'm a little concerned. I'm not so sure I need to buy any of what you're selling. In fact, I think I might have an awareness book I'd like to sell you!