We Only Need to Check Two Things in Our Writing

I heard there are only two things we need to check in our writing. Can you believe that? Only two things. How exciting!

I thought there would be an unlimited number of considerations, but I can handle two. Even a short checklist might overwhelm, but a pair of items seems doable.

When I learned this, I was filled with anticipation, wondering what the duo might be. What are the two things I need to check?

Though they are simple, alas, they are not easy. The only two things we need to check in our writing is our facts and the words we use. Ugh, that means we need to check everything!

Check Your Facts: Our memories can mislead us. We recall things with imprecision, or we may be in complete error, either because we wrongly remember or because we were wrongly informed. The easiest, but often misleading fact-checking source is the Internet. I shouldn’t need to say it, but don’t believe everything you read online. Scrutinize the source; question its integrity; look for independent confirmation. Books are a better source, but they are not without error – and increasingly so as books nowadays are given less review and editing before being printed. We can also ask others; just remember their memory may be as fallible as ours.

Check Your Words: I think this is primarily about ensuring the meaning of each word is correct for the context in which we placed it. But this also means removing superfluous words and inserting missing ones. It means spell-checking everything, and it means being watchful of commonly confused words. Last is the order of the words we use, editing out confusion and correcting transposed words.

Once we verify our facts and words, our writing will be well-checked. The only remaining task is to make sure the result is interesting and worth reading.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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