Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Avoiding the Aaaargh! Moments In Blogging

The best books on writing tell us to set our manuscripts aside for days, weeks, even months before we do final revisions. If we give ourselves time away from our work, we have a better chance of seeing our prose as a reader (or agent or editor) would see it. We can catch errors we missed earlier in the writing process.

By jumping into the blog-a-day challenge without writing a few blogs in advance, some of us don't have the luxury of putting our work aside for multiple rounds of self-editing. We pick our moment, sit down at the computer, quick-think a topic, write the blog, proofread a couple of times, and publish. That's the way I've been doing it.

Which is why, when I went back last night and read the blog I wrote yesterday morning, I didn't get very far before I had an Aaaargh! moment. A glaring error in grammar. Why hadn't it glared at me before I published? Here I am, writing about the self-editing process and how to do a better job cleaning up our own manuscripts before we submit, and I can't even see my own mistakes? Another Aaaargh!

Well, what to do but turn it into another blog, right? It could have been worse. I could have made that kind of error in a query letter, or book proposal, or on the first page of my novel. This way, I've only put the error out there for the whole world to see. I think I even Tweeted the link to that one. Holy mackeral, I did Tweet the link to that confounded thing. One more really loud Aaaargh!

So here's the thing. That good advice about putting our work aside before we do final revisions, and then maybe once again before a final self-edit, might be good advice for blog writers as well. Harder to do, of course, if you're writing about current events. But for those of us who can write our blogs in advance, it probably wouldn't hurt. Might cut down on the Aaaargh! moments.


Karen Walker said...

Love this, Pat. I wrote my blog for today yesterday and saved it. I was going to just publish it this morning, but decided to read it first. Found several things that would have been aargh moments. That isn't to say there aren't more, because time is a real issue in this blogging class. Only thing I can say, "be gentle with yourself." We're only human!

Galen Kindley said...

So true. Occasionally, When I read a document I wrote some time previously, I just shudder. It's very interesting how, given time, the thing looks much different than when originally written.
But, you know what's worse? Writing comments, and for much the same reasons you talked about for blog posts.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Love your candid posts. Real life stuff - cool.

I know you're not a defeatist (saw your comment on Free Spirit - thanks for the visit) - a realist for sure. Just sayin' ... :)

I singed up to follow your blog. You're doing fine, just keep at it with what you can do whilst holding the little one in your lap - lol

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I've read some things over a million times and still managed to find an Aaaargh moment or two the next time through. At least you turned your moment it into a fun post!

Jane Kennedy Sutton

N A Sharpe said...

Oh boy, oh boy does this ring true!!! Yesterday I had a medical day that had me quite distracted. I got my book review done (shuddered when I read it and of course already posted it on my blog, Amazon, etc...) way too distracted, should have been better work.

Writing a blog a day, visiting all the blogs and commenting all have been pretty stream of consciousness writing - which, in my case, leads to a lot of rambling. LOL

GREAT blog!

NA Sharpe

Karen Walker said...

Haven't figured out how to respond to people's comments on my blog page. Thanks, Patricia. Great idea to ask folks to ask libraries to stock the book. Hadn't thought of that. Took your suggestion and moved "followers" up on the page. What a wonderful support this group is, yes?

Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama said...

Loved the post, though we are only human. I've agonized over appellate legal briefs, had several people read them, proofread them, spent hours and hours and hours, and then a year later, picked one up and realized that the word "public" was spelled "pubic" in several places. We are only human.

Jennifer Taggart

Anonymous said...

This is funny, and so true! That's why I try to have a queue of posts I'm always working on, so I'm not rushed. Does blogger have a "preview" screen? I make a habit of always reading through my posts in "preview" because I always notice errors that way. Cheers!

The Practical Preserver said...

Boy, you sure nailed that one. Those aarrrggghhh moments make you wonder where your mind has gone. It's impossible to be perfect, but we keep trying. The important thing is to forgive yourself, correct what you can, and say, "Scarlett, tomorrow's another day!"

Karen K. Brees, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

This post really made me smile, because I have arghhh moments a lot! Mostly in my comments, for some reason. Guess I need to read them out loud before I post them. :) I'm glad we're all in the same boat. I'm enjoying your blog.


Jina Bacarr said...

I love your candid posts as you take us along with you on your life's journey. You grab us and keep us "in the moment"--not easy to do!!


Bob Sanchez said...

Hi Patricia,
Thanks for the great post, and who among us can't relate?

You do know you can edit your post after the fact, though, don't you? Just make a quiet change and no one's the wiser! :- )

Bob Sanchez
Author, Getting Lucky

Julie Lomoe said...

I love your post and your sense of humor! I imagine I'll get to the point of writing my blogs ahead of time in Word and mulling them over, but for now, I'm just hurtling along. I proof my work, but I don't save for editing later - I just click on "Publish." But on my blog, a line comes up below the titles that says "edit" - as if it's nudging me to take a second look.

Anonymous said...

Yes, self-editing blog posts is good. But don't go "Aargggh" too often, most such errors aren't fatal ;-)

There's a cool tag called 'strike' and you can use it to edit/correct your posts. Or even post UPDATES, like I did on a recent post on my main blog which was factually incorrect!

I did say "Aargggh" to myself, though ;-)

All success
Think, Write & Retire