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It’s the end of the week (sort of, but not really), and it’s time for a short post about a long-term problem I finally did something about this week.

When I proofread a blog, presentation, or strategic planning document, I typically start at the front and work backward.

No problem if I get through the entire blog, presentation, or strategic planning document EVERY time. When that doesn’t happen (which is very often), it creates a problem. By the time the whole thing is finished, I may have edited the front section 5 or 6 times more than the end.

I was about to make the same mistake again the other day when it became clear the end of the plan I was working on was nowhere near completion even though the front section was in pretty good shape, save for a little editing. Instead of giving the front of the plan yet another round of attention, I consciously moved to the end of the document to work on the fundamental writing needed to get the strategic planning document in decent shape.

If you’re guilty of the same habit of always starting at the front when proofreading, begin at the end next time with the fresh eyes and full attention the front of the document usually receives. It’s a great way to deliver a much more consistent effort reflecting your expertise all the way through.  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can get your Brainzooming!

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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8 Responses to “Writing (and Blogging) Tip: Start at the End”

  1. Great tip.
    Related–my first job at a newspaper, a venerable editor taught me to take a ruler and touch each word, reading backwards so as to catch misspellings. It prevents you from glossing over the words you have read and reread a hundred times.

  2. proofing says:

    If only my local newspaper editor would follow your advice. . . I can’t believe the number of errors I find, at least one on every page!

  3. Karen F. says:

    Sometimes time of day affects how we edit stuff, too. I do all my editing (for my blog) after I get up (and have my first cup of coffee! lol)…if I wait till the afternoon or evening to do it, I am just fried.

    Karen, The Resume Chick (on Google or Twitter for questions, comments or violent reactions)

  4. Mike Brown says:

    Thanks for all the comments!

    Alex – I like the idea of reading backwards. It’s something I’ve done before, but not often. Recently, I’ve been reading blog posts out loud to hear when words aren’t fitting together. It’s been pretty helpful, but takes some time.

    Proofing – I think you’re namesake “proofing” is definitely a lost art. I’m not sure that people even necessarily run the automatic tools that are available in software these days.

    Karen – Time of day does certainly make a difference. For me though, it’s not a predictable pattern where it’s the same time every day. I used to write a lot in the middle of the night, then got away from that, only to start it again last weekend. My challenge is to get to only a few passes through a blog post. I can through many more drafts, especially on longer pieces. Maybe I’ll try saving up all the proof reading for the morning hours and see how that works!

    Mike

  5. As a trainee accountant I was trained to call numbers backwards when proofing them in our “call over” process. It was good for catching number inversions. I still use that system today. When I am processing a credit card payment over the phone, I call the number back to the customer – in reverse, and in 11 years of doing that we haven’t mis-charged yet. (Phew – fingers x). I hadn’t thought of doing the same for proofing text – good tip, thanks!

    • Mike Brown says:

      Likewise Helen, I hadn’t thought about checking numbers backwards to make sure they’re right. Thanks for sharing that tip!

      Fingers crossed!

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