A Writing Entry – Curse you Automatic Spell-checker!

Once upon a time, I knew how to spell words.  Once upon a time, I also had decent penmanship.  Then I got a computer and all that changed.  My handwriting degenerated rapidly from “passable” to “doctor’s signature.”  My ability to spell also decreased rapidly.  I am sad that I have come to this.  I feel that misspellings are a sign of a lack of editing and are unprofessional.  I have found misspellings in published works from fiction to newspapers to technical papers, but I still think it’s unprofessional.

I turn off all the automatic spell-checkers and grammar-checkers available in most word processing software.  I really hate the automatic checkers that change things as you type which makes it even less likely you realize you misspelled a word.  Since my day job is in a technical field, I use a lot of words that just aren’t in the standard spell-check dictionary.  Also, some incarnations of my real job require using a pen and paper to record data, which really shows how compromised both my spelling and handwriting have become.  Part of my job is checking others’ work, and even simple words would be misspelled because the person writing them down always counted on an automatic spell-checker.  For example, I had a co-worker who consistently misspelled “odor” as “oder.”

The grammar-checkers are close to useless.  Sometimes they do pick up on missing words in sentences, and can occasionally pick up on noun-verb disagreements, but in general they aren’t very reliable.  I’ve had fights with grammar-checkers over Oxford commas.  Grammar-checkers also do not work well with long sentences even when they are grammatically correct.

I do use the automatic spell-checker after I’ve written whatever it is I’m going to write.  But it doesn’t always catch everything and sometimes misspellings slip through.  Recently I realized a made a major misspelling with my latest novel, Necromancy for the Greater Good.  I don’t know how many people realized it (I certainly didn’t) because the misspelled word is pretty obscure, but it’s also pretty important.  I want my novels to be read, and misspellings only make that less likely.  I’m mad at myself for being so careless.  So I’m republishing on Smashwords which means it’ll take a little while for it to get redistributed through the various vendors.  I’ve probably still missed a few words here and there but this was just too big to let go.  To quote a movie, “My shame knows no bounds.”  So here I am, admitting my mistake, quite humbled, hoping it won’t be noticed by too many people, and vowing again to never, ever rely on the automatic spell-checker.

So, gentle readers, please have some pity on me.  In my excitement to publish, I relied on an inferior tool, and ended up looking unprofessional.  I promise it was just a one-time lapse, and I will increase quality control for the next publication.

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awritershailmarypass

S. J. Drew is an aspiring writer who finally entered the blogosphere to shamelessly promote that writing (as evidenced by the title of the blog). Whether or not this works remains to be seen, but S. J. hopes you are at least entertained. And if you're actually reading this, that's probably a good sign.

4 thoughts on “A Writing Entry – Curse you Automatic Spell-checker!”

  1. I’m looking to publish a couple of works this year and one of my great hesitations is the realization that if I (or heaven forbid, someone else) spot an error, I can’t just push an edit button and fix it (like I do on my blog).

    In the end, all we can do is our best. Continue to be thorough, but embrace the grace that will allow you to continue to move forward.

  2. I sympathise with your dislike of automatic spell checkers – I recently turned mine off because it turned someone’s name: Riskett into Ricket – on a subediting assignment! – and I didn’t notice. But, I disagree that having a computer has made my spelling worse. I think it’s made it better because it is easier to check spellings and learn from the correct word.

    1. I can see that a spell-checker helps to learn the correct words, but the word I misspelled in this case was so obscure it wasn’t even in the spell-checker dictionary and I was so used to the automatic spell-checking at least highlighting misspelled words I didn’t think to check. Then again, I don’t think this situation comes up very often. But I’m a little wiser now, hopefully 🙂

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