All throughout high school and college I have been known as the girl who will happily proof read and edit papers, articles, poetry, short stories, etc., for basically anyone who asks. This has allowed me a certain advantage when it comes to writing my own papers because most of the time it’s a lot easier to find mistakes with other people’s writing than it is with your own. Knowing what these mistakes look like and how to avoid them has in fact made me a much better writer in turn.
So I’ve compiled a list of ways you can basically ensure that no one anywhere will ever want to read your writing. These are mistakes that can be easily avoided and fixed, they just take a bit of effort and some proof reading.
- Spelling Mistakes: The most obvious but sadly the most common, spelling mistakes are so easily avoidable, what with spell check and dictionary websites that finish spelling a word before you have even finished typing it out. Spelling mistakes should never, for any reason, appear in any sort of professional writing. That being said, when they do appear it’s a quick indication that something was written in a hurry, little effort was put forth in the writing process, or the writer was distracted. None of those things build confidence from an audience, and will result in your audience dismissing you as a careless writer.
- Profanity: This is one that you would think would be obvious, but well, it’s not. I can’t even begin to count how many times I have opened a blog post or article only to find multiple profanities in the first few lines and thus close the page. No one wants to read that. It’s not hip, provocative, risque, or striking. It’s unoriginal. Unimaginative. Unintelligent. And it’s a sure fire way to turn readers off before they’ve even had a chance to find out what you’re trying to say.
- Grammar: For the love of all things written in time, can we please learn to use correct grammar? Nothing, and I mean nothing, screams incompetent writer more than bad grammar. And nothing makes a reader run away screaming more effectively. Please, with all of the free online resources available literally, at your finger tips, do not allow your writing to fall victim to bad grammar. Just don’t. It’s that simple.
- Lack of Focus: This is another biggie, but sometimes not so easy to avoid. Sometimes, despite our bed efforts, our writing comes across jumbled. Our inner wheels get spinning faster than our fingers can type and before you know it you’ve got five or six or more sentences making up a paragraph, none of which have anything to do with one another in the reader’s mind. You may know what you want to say, but your reader doesn’t. You have to spell it out for them. Clearly and concisely in a manner easy to follow but without dumbing it down. Which leads into my next point.
- Lack of Imagination: Writing is perhaps, one of the most wonderful tools for creative outlet. There are so many different ways you can catch a reader’s attention and draw them into a story, an article, a blog post, even poems and music. All you have to do is play around a little with form and add some flare and you have a proven winner. That being said, monotonous writing, with no voice or originality, will always bore a reader. Vary the sentence structure. Break some of the more forgiving rules. Be original. If you don’t I promise no one will read past the first paragraph of your work.
- Contractions and Slang: Do Not Ever Use A Contraction In Professional Writing. Ever! Just don’t do it. Informal briefs, opinion pieces, prose, short stories? Sure! Use em up. But please, don’t ever use them in formal professional writing. If you’re writing sounds just like how you would talk to your best friend on the phone while your complaining about that rude woman who cut you in line at Wally World, then you have a huge problem. Unless you’re doing it for effect, contractions and slang are a big no no. You can always do better than that.
- Condescension: This is another tricky one. It requires a lot of honest self reflection and critique. But while it may not always be obvious to you that your writing sounds condescending, it will always come across to your readers. And it’s never okay. Humor? Snark? Witty Banter? Absolutely! Condescension? Nope. Never.
- Confusing Tenses: Past, Present, Future, they’re all different and are all used differently. So don’t make the mistake of confusing tenses in your writing. It will come across as disjointed and well, confusing. I know this is getting into some trickier territory so if you have to, find an English major friend, or a teacher you know, and have them explain it to you.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. It is however, a list of the most common mistakes people tend to make in their writing. Mistakes that will always detract from your writing and give you a bad reputation as an author, professional, blogger, whatever. Which is definitely not something anyone wants to happen. So take it from me, I have made all these mistakes and more. Don’t let things that are so easily fixable bench you. That being said, feel free to add to this list in the comments! We are after all, only as good as our proofreading skills.