Writing Slip ups PostIf I show you my writing slip ups, will you show me yours?

What are writing slip ups?

Merriam-Webster defines slip ups as careless errors. A bit harsh, yet accurate.

Although I call myself a writer, I am far from immune from the sly slip ups.

My fingers tremble over the keyboard while thinking about the topic. You know a writing slip up lurks between thought and typewritten word.

So, let’s rise up against the fear and expose the slip ups for what they are. A human moment.

  • By baring my written imperfections, I arm myself for battle
  • How? By recognizing the enemy so I can edit them into oblivion

Writing Slip ups: Top 10

Close your eyes and imagine you hear David Letterman’s voice as he counts down this Top 10 list.

Okay. Bad idea. It’s hard to read the list with your eyes closed.

#10 – Sneak Peek

Back when I blogged here three times a week (what was I thinking?), I had a category named Health Care Tuesday. I often used the phrase sneak peek in referencing a post at my health care blog.

I cannot count how many times sneak peek tripped me up.

  • Sneek peek
  • Sneak peak
  • Sneek peak

I KNOW it’s sneak peek. But, my fingers insisted on typing one of the above versions. I cannot explain why. They simply took control.

And no red squiggly alerted me to the misuse of the word, peak. Who knew our mountain peaks were sneaky, too?

Have I piqued your interest?

#9 – Just Because

At least one executive says this is a female thing. Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of living up to the stereotype. Boy, I hate that. What am I talking about?

It’s the overuse of the word just.

Conducting a word search on my posts produced 16 pages of results. Yikes. Granted, some use just appropriately. And a few are words containing “just” (e.g., adjust). But, you know more than a few use the word as a filler.

Time to tighten up – just because.

#8 – Since Because

Speaking of because, my next writing slip up may not be a slip up at all. Purists believe it is. They believe we use the word since, when we mean because.

Depending on which camp you’re in, since and because are synonyms – or not.

  • Since is defined as because in dictionaries (Purists do not accept this meaning)
  • It’s also defined as a period of time that has passed (after a specific event)

Need an example?

  • One way: Since her car broke down, Mary arrived late.
  • Purist way: Because her car broke down, Mary arrived late.

So, why do I include since and because on my slip ups list? Because (no pun intended) whichever term you use, the meaning may be ambiguous (vague or unclear).

Example: Since our discussion, I changed the white paper’s objective.

  • Does the above sentence mean “after a period of time”?
  • Or does it mean as a result of the discussion?

See? Ambiguous.

If I mean the latter, I may want to edit the sentence to: Based on our discussion, I changed the white paper’s objective.

Because the goal is to keep it clear, snuff out ambiguous words through editing.

Letter R for Writing slip ups#7 – You Forgot R

The next slip up on my hit parade is the word, your. Once again, my fingers take control over my mind.

  • My mind says YOUR
  • My fingers type YOU
  • The missing R often escapes detection

Let me know if you find the elusive R.

#6 – Cousin It

I’ve written about Cousin It(t) before. I also created the following SlideShare presentation.

You can blame editor extraordinaire, Shane Arthur. Shane recommended strengthening your writing by replacing the word it.

It is another word that can make meaning unclear. I’ll let the SlideShare explain what It all means.

View It


#5 – A While

Editing awhile helps improve writing, although it may be a while before you’re an expert.

Does awhile and a while trip you up? Me, too. I often need a quick and dirty trick.

#4 – Including What

To include a comma or to not include a comma,
that is the question.

You’re describing a situation that includes examples. Sometimes you add a comma before the word, including. Other times, you do not.

What’s the difference?

The Chicago Manual of Style Online says, “there’s no simple answer.” Oh, great. We stumped the experts. However, the following is their recommendation.

  • You need a comma if what follows the word, including, is nonrestrictive (the items provide a few examples, not ALL elements)
  • If you omit the comma, the items that follow become restrictive (each item is essential to the clause/words it follows)

Example: I took a change of clothes, including workout apparel. (You took other clothes in addition to the workout apparel)

Example: I packed clothes for my trip including business attire and workout clothes. (You only packed business attire and workout clothes)

#3 – Even So

Bread basketThe next couple of words are more filler words in writing.

Picture a basket of bread.  You know, the one restaurants torture you with.

Consuming the occasional slice is fine, but buzz-sawing through the whole loaf may backfire.

You fill up on bread, leaving no room for your main course. Not to mention that filler effect on your body.

  • Even is a type of bread in the basket
  • So is another variety

I have a love affair with all things bread. At times, I overindulge on even and so. Typically, my overindulgence occurs in my blog posts, which are more casual in style.

Even I know it’s so.

#2 – Very Much

While we’re filling up, I’d very much like to know how often you find very sneaking in the back door. It’s very annoying. I very much wish it would stop. Seriously.

#1 – Perhaps Not

Perhaps has a way of knocking authority to the ground.

  • Perhaps we should call the client.
  • Perhaps we made the wrong choice.

Perhaps we are remaining politically correct so we do not offend. Perhaps not.

Now What?

You have my 10 worst writing slip ups. How does that help?

You can start by scanning my list. See how many you share.

  • Next, identify your own repeat offenders
  • Create a cheat sheet of your Top 10
  • You are now armed for editing

Obliterate the worst writing slip ups.


In the past, I rarely slipped up when it came to grammar gremlins or other writing mishaps. Then I became less obsessive (or older).

I respect the tools for good writing, but I’ve been known to bend a rule or two.

You may have noticed a frightening fragment of a sentence or one too many adverbs. My relaxed style on my blogs is different from my other writing. And I think that’s okay.

For some, rules are NOT made to be broken. Heck, some people are adamant about grammar rules that never were grammar rules.

Why not chillax and embrace our human side? Use your editing time for catching those writing slip ups. Your Top 10 list helps you find where they lurk.

Your turn. What are some of your Top 10 writing slip ups?


BigStock Photo Credit



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