I can’t catch my own mistakes because I am smart. You can’t catch your mistakes because you are smart. And there you have it, this is the one (very good) reason why we need critique partners. We are too smart to see our own mistakes. Our brain looks for meaning when it reads something, especially with our own products. We also become so familiar with our own stories that we skip over problems; our own brain fills in the gaps and skitters across the errors. The brain knows the story we are creating, so why pause or stop over something that has nothing to do with the actual story? The brain is very helpful in that way…
Editing is a different skill.
Remember when we create, we concentrate on the story we weave (and the meaning/s we want so much to convey).
And this whole time I thought it was because I took a wrong turn in my education. Then I thought something was wrong with me, why wasn’t I catching misspellings? Why on earth do I like to write “your” when it should be “you’re” and vice versa? (AND WHY DO I STILL DO THIS WHEN I KNOW I DO THIS?) And on a smaller note: why am I comma impaired?
And now we have the reason why so many writing blogs suggest changing the font when we reread our work for editing errors. To trick our brain. To un-familiarize it from what it has been staring at for weeks, months, and maybe years. To confuse our very smart brains into reading our story a different way and maybe catching those mistakes.
Researchers have studied this, possibly even dedicated a chunk of their lives to understand it. I just had to google them so I could breathe a sigh of relief. Why yes, even years into studying the craft of writing, I will and do still make mistakes when I write. And do you. And that is okay. Our brains are working just as they should when we write story.
Don’t take my word for it:
- An academic research paper: Does familiarity with text breed complacency or vigilance? Maura Pilotti and Martin Chodorow
- An article from BBC (http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29529578 )