As I have been looking into the possibility of focusing on writing in my VA business, I’ve examined what my strengths and weaknesses are. I have concluded I have a number of strengths that a writer needs to be a success. One of those is attention to detail. This will manifest itself in several ways, including some not-so-good ones. Let’s break it down.
Spelling and grammar – People that grew up in other places besides the USA and UK have it tough when it comes to mastering English. It’s got to be the quirkiest language of them all. I often poke fun at French, calling it pretentious with all its accents and silent letters. But French has nothing on English when it comes to quirks. What’s a poor African to do when he encounters a sentence like “He didn’t object to the object”? This stuff can be maddening. But I’ve got no grace for Americans that have no grasp on the language. My wife has none either. If you want to see steam pour out of someone’s ears, say “I seen that” around her.
If you are relying on spell check, you’re going to miss some stuff. If you haven’t seen it, check out the I have a spell checker poem. It is a 16-line poem with 40 errors that spell-check would not catch. This link here takes you to a version where you can click on the errors and get a score on how you do. Not to brag, but I got 100%. OK, yes, I’m bragging.
Punctuation – A couple of the errors in that spell check poem are punctuation errors – specifically, improper use of apostrophes. I’ve said this before, but I “feel some kinda way” about this problem.
In the poem, the errors are around the use of “its” vs “it’s.” The simplest way to master apostrophe use is to remember the symbol is used to indicate contractions or possession. If you’re creating a plural from a singular, no apostrophe is used. Correct uses would include “It’s time to leave” (contraction), “Michael’s car” (possession) and “the Carolinas” (plural). That last one irks me the most. People way too often refer to the 2-state region in which I live as “the Carolina’s.” No, no, NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Relevance – For this aspect, let’s look at gender reference. The US culture is working to be more accepting of different gender expressions, such as trans-gender, as well as being more sensitive to gender stereotypes, and properly referring to people where gender is not known or not relevant. In such situations, an alternative to risking using “he” or “she” incorrectly is to use “(s)he” or “s/he.” I use “(s)he” quite frequently. I feel like I’m unique in this regard, as most people try to avoid gender-specific words by using “they.” I think this is incorrect if you are referring to a single person. “If someone has a complaint, they should reach out to this office” has a singular noun and a plural pronoun. While this is an area that may not be critical to whether the writing is correct, it’s one of those details I tend to notice.
Paralysis – Here’s where having a great attention to detail can cause trouble. “Analysis Paralysis” can set in. Your writing is done, you have reviewed it numerous times, had a friend or colleague review it, and… review it again. And again. And AGAIN! You’re so sure you overlooked something that you have to go back and look for it again. You can turn yourself into a paranoid mess. I find that this can come up when I’m submitting work as part of an interview. “There’s probably 5,000 people applying for this gig. If I put one comma where I’m supposed to put a semicolon in this 5,000-word piece, the bot is going to catch it and eliminate me from the candidate pool.” I didn’t help myself by recently reading that when Apollo 2 was launched in 1962 and exploded 5 minutes later, it was a single omitted hyphen in the millions of lines of code that led to the explosion. Such knowledge can deepen the attention-to-detail person’s fear of submitting work with any mistake, fearing ridicule, retribution or even termination. But mistakes happen, and you should not let them define you.
What I have to accept is that all humans make mistakes, even in job interviews, and all you can do is put your best foot forward. Even if you do have 1 error in 5,000 words, that’s a pretty impressive performance that should win all kinds of gigs.
Determination – Here’s where you can take a negative trait and flip it over. When I was 17, I was standing in our laundry room arguing with my mother. Exasperated, she gave up by saying, “Boy, if I ever meet a mule, I’m gonna send it to you for stubborn practice.” Before you start throwing shade at my Mom, she was 100% right. I was the most stubborn child that ever walked the Earth. It’s a miracle she didn’t have a stroke trying to raise me. But that stubborn streak can be used in a good way, especially in running a business. You just turn it into determination. When one application is turned down, you move on to the next one. Whatever setback you encounter, you address it and note how you will do things different the next time you are in the same position. And if you do get some content to review that looks like it has 3 errors every 2 words, you can use determination to scour the content and get all the wreckage back in working order.
Attention to detail is an important attribute to a great content writer or copywriter. A Virtual Assistant can take care of your writing needs so you can deliver even more outstanding results to your customers and clients. Click here to see what services you can hand off, and Contact us to see how we can partner to make great things happen for your business.