Writer’s Blindness (like snow blindness except pertaining to your words!)

Ryan Gosling is poking his eye because he has Verbameakeratitis.

There truly is a name for everything on the internet. I was searching around this morning for a phrase to describe the feeling where you’re reading over your umpteenth edit of a manuscript you know off by heart and you’re not even seeing the words anymore.

Terena Scott over at Medusa’s Muse called it “Writer’s Blindness” in her post: ‘Beware the Danger of Writer’s Blindness.’

That feels apt, but to take it further, the same way snow blindness has a scientific name (Photokeratitis) I am coining a new term for writer’s blindness Verbameakeratitis. Verba mea is latin for ‘my words’

In my own case, as I get ready to hit <send> on my second-edits for Thrice Burned, I find myself using these tricks to ‘see’ my own errors and catch them before inflicting them upon my poor editor/publishers <again>.

  • Read Aloud – this is something they teach to every first year journalism student (I should know, I was one) and it really does work. You are much more likely to catch an error if you have to read your words aloud.
  • Read your writing on a different machine – I find PDFing my document and reading it on the iPad helps me not slip into complacency. I’ve caught lots of typos that way
  • Know thy faults. I have a bad habit of adding stage direction (usually eyebrows a-waggling) so I do a search of the document for my own bad habits.
  • Read the document in order: just because you’re SURE that first chapter is pristine, do not feel you can skip it. Read the whole story as if you were a first time reader to really SEE the mistakes.
  • Check all dates and locations if you write historical fiction – this is a big one. Make sure every instance of a date is double-checked and makes sense.

What are your tricks for avoiding Verbameakeratitis ?

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5 thoughts on “Writer’s Blindness (like snow blindness except pertaining to your words!)

  1. I did the things you list, and more (see “The Joys of Editing” and “Quoth the Pilcrow….”), but when I reformatted the manuscript for different e-book retailers, and put it through a text-to-speech generator to produce an audible edition, other irregularities surfaced. As I told another blogger, it’s like the myth of medical sterility: All we can really achieve is “as clean as humanly possible.”

    You’ve done enough. Let your editor earn her keep. We’re ready for more of Portia’s adventures!

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