As a writer, I accept that typos happen and as annoying as they are I’m actually okay with it now. Like many people, I would tut when a news channel made a typo because we don’t expect them to, however, they are human and are working under pressure at a fast pace and so a little understanding goes a long way. The important thing is that it doesn’t detract from the content and the message that is conveyed.
Recently on some articles I have written, people have been picking at my ‘grammar’ and maybe the odd typo when I have gone into to do a rewrite, while praising the content. It made me think, I am offering content for free and all they wanted to do was pick at things that really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things––it wasn’t as if they parted with money and got a poor service, and they didn’t have to even read it. Very often these people simply like to pick fault because it makes them feel superior in some kind of strange way.
I’m sure many writers have agonized over editing and have missed the odd typo when they rephrased something or when they go in to edit, but you can get obsessed with it, and then whether to use a comma or a semi-colon. Ultimately, you must understand that the reader will spend a fraction of the time you spent writing it on actually reading it, for instance an article that took three hours to write, most people will spend 10 minutes reading it. I have also realized you have to make the best use of your time, and if a typo slips in not to beat yourself over it or to let a grammar nazi make you feel inadequate. How many articles with a fan base do they have? I used to sit there and go over my work to ensure there were no typos or errors, and that would easily be an extra couple of hours, and you can get paranoid, but it’s really not worth getting upset if a typo does slip through.
I was discussing this with a friend who picks at my typos, and I told her that while it’s not ideal, it’s human. In a Penguin Narnia book there was a typo, and she was horrified to hear it, but it didn’t bother me as it didn’t detract from the story, and I saw another in a John Grisham novel recently (both print books), but it was okay. These are works that are edited and proofread several times, and typos still slipped in. Even on news websites, reporters in a hurry to file their copy will have the odd typo that they go back in and edit. This is the fast paced world of news and how writing is today, and often the armchair whiners are ones who can tweet or criticize on a comment forum with their one minute sentence, but have never written anything of substance.
What I have also noticed in my recent writings is that a simple and more colloquial style gains more readers. Some of my essays, although well received weren’t as easily understood by the masses, and again some of the criticisms are that there are grammatical errors with colloquial writing styles. If we look at the basics, grammar is there to help us to formulate ideas coherently and to have structure. I’ve been surprised at the response of my work that is less formally structured, in that more people have responded to it, especially non-native English speakers. When I write, I don’t wish to impress with endless words that people have to look up, but I want my ideas and messages to be conveyed with ease and in a language and style that people can easily relate to, and using colloquial language at times helps. Some may see it as grammatically incorrect, but we all know when we quote, say a Texan, or a Scouser (in Liverpool), who would dare tell them what they were saying was grammatically incorrect?
Content and the style of writing matters more than perfect grammar to me, because you can have a piece of writing that has no errors but is bland, uninspiring and that means nothing. While spelling errors and grammar do matter, holding an audience and entertaining them is far more important, and can’t be easily edited. I have learned not to get annoyed when I see a typo, whether it is in my own work or others because I know it’s human. The people who tend to pick fault are often those who don’t have the skill to write succinctly, but a true writer focuses on content. I would much rather bash out lots of good ideas with a mass of typos, rather than obsess over the spelling as I write and lose my creative flow, and a true writer knows they can go back and edit. That’s what separates a writer from a critical reader, and content is King.