Why freelance writers aren’t allowed to make mistakes. Ever.

One of the most annoying things about being a writer is that you’re not allowed to make any mistakes. Ever.

While that’s fair enough when you’re writing for publication, or for a client (who has a right to expect their copy to be absolutely error-free), when I write for myself, on my personal blogs, and in forums, it would be nice if people could maybe cut me some slack now and again.

Not so, though. Typo in a casual forum post? Someone will take great delight in pointing it out – normally with a “LOL!” and a general air of glee into the bargain. Mistake in my personal blog? Same thing again, with the glee and the “lol” and an attitude of “ha! I caught the writer making a typo! How funny! She’ll be SO embarrassed! I better point out the mistake right away – in public, preferably!”

Here’s the thing, though: sometimes I make mistakes. There, I admitted it. I am not perfect. I write thousands of words every single day, and when you’re as prolific as I am, sometimes you’re going to make the odd typo here and there. Most of the time they are just typos, but here’s another shocking confession: sometimes I spell words wrong. This is because I do not have an encyclopaedic knowledge of every single word in the English language, and when I’m pushed for time and the thing I’m writing is just a casual post on a forum, I sometimes won’t have time to go look it up. It’s also because I’m human. Shoot me if you must.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s OK to let typos and other mistakes slide. It most definitely is not, and, as I said above, when I’m writing for a client, I make sure I never do. When I post on a forum about shoes, say, or dogs, I’d quite like not to be hauled over the coals for the one typo I make in 100 posts, though. Is that really too much to ask?

The thing that amuses me the most, in all this? The people who manage to find a typo in something I’ve written and send me a spiteful, smug email about it – then ask if I’d like to employ them. Because of course I want to work with someone who has just revealed themselves to be have nothing better to do than write smug emails telling me how useless I am. Who wouldn’t want that?*

* Note: emails which simply say, “Hey, I noticed a typo, thought you might like to know,” are fine, and, indeed, dandy. Emails which take a “Call yourself a proofreader?”, rolling-eyed tone make me want to forward the sender’s details to every editor I know…