I hate proofreading. I truly hate it. I don’t think I’m good at it. Lucky for me, I found a simple hack that has reduced my error rate significantly and made proofreading a lot, lot easier.

I slowed the hell down.

It wasn’t deliberate. I’ve been experimenting with using a stylus on my tablet to write. I wanted to find a way to write when I had little or no time it to do so. It worked, but it wasn’t until I printed and proofread what I’d written that I noticed the difference. There were far fewer errors than normal. Far, far fewer.

It took me a while to realise why, but it’s simple – the stylus slowed me down. 

Handwriting recognition isn’t perfect. You have to check that what you wrote is what the system read. It also limits how much you can write at once. I can write roughly six words before the input area is full and I have to wait a second (literary 1 second) for the system to process my writing and convert it into text. Then, I check it and fix any errors.

Word by word, line by line, I’ve realised that I’ve been proofreading my work sentence by sentence as I’ve been writing it. That’s actually something I’ve never done before. Head down, fingers at the keys, I smash through the words as they come to me, chasing that elusive “zone” where the words are writing themselves. It’s a rush, it’s a high, but maybe it’s also the writing equivalent of blasting across the alkali flats of Nebraska in a rocket-powered car, navigating by monkeys, in a blindfold.

So, here’s today pro-tip: Slow down, read as you go, and don’t leave a mess behind. Future you will thank you for it when editing time comes.