The Tao of Typos

Acknowledging change and reserving judgement


There is a lesson in almost everything that happens in life. The secret is seeing and accepting it. Take typos, for example.

I used to be an editor. I was paid to find mistakes in copy, including my own. It was my bread and butter, and I did a decent job of it, too.

One day, my editing skills changed. I started making more typos than usual and even worse, missing them when I edited the copy. I wasn’t an editor at that point. I was working in the corporate world, but still it was kind of my job.

Now editing your own copy is always harder, but not impossible. And I was cranking out a lot more content at that time, so I wrote it off to working too quickly. Plus, it was just a few here and there.

Until it wasn’t a few anymore. I started finding typos in almost everything I did.

It freaked me out. I thought I was losing my touch. The more I worried about it, the worse it got. It became a major stressor in my life. Even on a slow day, I would miss some typos.

I had no idea what was causing it, but I actually broke down a few times over it. Then I tried to fix it. I made myself really focus on editing. I would find a quiet space so nothing would disturb me. But it didn’t help. Nothing helped.

Then one day I realized, I didn’t want to be in the job any more and I didn’t want to be doing the same type of work any more. So, I made a change.

Guess what happened? The typos started to disappear. I stopped telling myself that I couldn’t do my job any more. Stopped torturing myself over it. All I needed was a change.

Lesson No. 1: Mistakes may be guiding you to change – don’t discard or judge them too harshly.

On the other side of typos, readers can learn a lesson, too. Now, you pay good money for books or magazines, and you expect a certain level of editing. But even the best sometimes make mistakes.

If you’ve ever read reviews of new writers or the comments from people who always feel the need to correct your Facebook post, you know some people just cannot get over a typo. They see nothing but the mistake and gather nothing else from what’s said.

But sometimes the grammar isn’t what matters. It’s the message … or the story, depending on what you’re reading. If you focus on nothing more than the writer’s mistake, then you may be missing out on what’s important.

And you may be judging someone for nothing more than a fat finger. That one happens a lot on social media. Mistakes don’t make you uneducated and catching the mistake doesn’t make you smarter, especially if you miss the point of the conversation.

Lesson No. 2: Don’t get lost in the details – look for the bigger meaning.

Mistakes are mistakes. They are not the be all and end all of everything. Sure, no one wants to make them, but we do. Accept it, own it and if you can, laugh at it. And if you’re on the receiving end, be mindful that we all make mistakes from time to time. It’s a small act of kindness to not judge others’ mistakes. Remember, we’re trying to make a better world here.

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