From where I’m sitting, I figure I’ve tapped out, checked and researched over half a million words for publication – of one sort or another – in the last fifteen years.
Not all have been enjoyable, most have been interesting, and many have left me with a sense of achievement.
Working with words is not always easy. Sometimes it is actually fun. Often it’s testing but rewarding.
So, why do it?
Well, when I’m checking work for others, I really value the sense that I can help to polish the hard work they’ve put in, and make it shine. I appreciate that – in most cases – people have really dug deep to get text on the page, and are trusting me to give it the final tweak. I’ve been reading and writing intensely for most of my life, I appreciate every ‘author’s voice’, and I don’t try to correct it out of existence. I’m also quick to spot basic errors, such as misspellings and errant apostrophes.
When I’m the one researching and writing, I love that I get the chance to tell a story, and share a bit of the world with others. It doesn’t matter if it’s history based work or a present day brochure I’m working on; I have the chance to provide a platform and create a voice that might not otherwise exist.
This all happens through practice, practice and more practice. Some of the basics I’ve implemented over the years include:
- Simple plurals do not need apostrophes. If you are just talking about a group of anything – grapes, books, cakes, cars – omit the apostrophe
- A bullet pointed list should typically only have a full stop at the end of the last item on the list, in order to indicate completion of the list
- Try not to repeat the same word too often; instead, make use of Shift+F7 (Word) for a quick thesaurus alternative, or look up the meaning of the problem word in a dictionary.
My final tip would be to enjoy working with words, and make it as pleasant a task as possible, according to your personal preferences. I sit next to a window with a garden view, and far from creating distractions, I have fresh air, natural light, and an awareness of the day’s progress. That all makes my work with words tick along most productively.