Business Writing Tip #24 – Write it once, check it twice

It’s not Christmas yet, but I’ve been told that some stores have started playing the Christmas music and that they’re bringing out the decorations…

I don’t know if you’ve heard the Christmas song Santa Claus is Coming to Town. When I was writing this post, a couple of lines of the song sprang into my mind:

He’s making a list
And checking it twice

I suggest you take a lesson from Santa. When it’s important to get things right, checking it twice really helps.

Our brains work faster than our fingers. This means that we think more quickly than we can write, or type.

The result is that sometimes we miss out words. As our fingers rush across the keyboard, or push our pen across our notepad, words rush out, while other words rush into our brains.

What can we do? Of course we don’t want to think slowly. I mean, have you ever tried to slow down your thinking? Your brain naturally resists that.

Simple solution. Check your work once you’ve finished.

Check for missed words. Check for typing mistakes. Check for grammatical errors. Check your logic (your brain doesn’t always put things in the right order).

Then check it again.

Remember though, something strange can happen when we check our own work. Our brains think they’re being very clever. They fill in the gaps. Even if we’ve left something out, our brains know it was meant to be there. So we ‘see’ what should be there, rather than what is.

The second thing that happens is our brains like to get on with things. I figure they’re not too keen on going back over things we’ve done. So the first time you check something you might even be thinking about the next item on your ‘to-do’ list.

If it’s an especially important piece of writing – your division’s contribution to the annual report, a grant submission, a press release, etc. – try and leave it for a few hours before you do your final check. And get someone else to check it as well.

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