Why It’s OK if Readers Point Out Mistakes in Your Writing

Why It’s OK if Readers Point Out Mistakes in Your Writing

by Steve Gamel

I got an email recently from a reader who was kind enough to point out an error I made in an old article. The article, which I wrote in March, focused on why you don’t use apostrophes to pluralize last names. Somehow, I used one incorrectly in a closing example.
Ugh! Major fail on my part!!!! I think the reader even joked around and said something like, “I was about to give you an ‘atta boy’ until …”

It was a fun exchange that I was completely open to and one of two conversations I had with readers that day. Earlier, a friend of mine sent me a Facebook message to let me know about a typo in a non-related article. Not only did I correct the errors online as quickly as I could, I thanked both of them for saving me from future embarrassment.

Obviously, you want to write clean and keep mistakes to a minimum. But all writers should embrace situations where readers point out mistakes that slip by.

Here’s why:
1. You create an open line of communication with your readers.
2. It shows you aren’t perfect, either, which for the reader builds confidence.
3. You have a better indication of who is reading your posts and what their interests are.
4. You can learn to deal with mistakes in your writing in a constructive way.

That last reason is equally as important as the rest. I don’t know many writers – including yours truly – who enjoy making mistakes. Like my sister-in-law just told me, “I hate it when I spend tons of time working hard on a piece only to find that I’ve missed a super important detail, it’s completely unclear, or I’ve written complete garbage.”

Writers are storytellers. It’s personal, and we want to get it right in every possible way. Most of the time we do, but if there’s even the tiniest mistake out there, we often struggle to face those flubs head-on.

Naturally, I used to dread the idea of a random reader pointing out a faux pas. I figured that would lead to them losing faith in my work or message. But I’ve come to the realization that readers generally won’t waste their time pointing out a mistake – or praising me for a job well done – if they didn’t enjoy reading my stuff.

So I embrace their feedback, for better or worse. You should, too.

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