Brain Science, Mark Twain and Proofreading: Why a Freelancer Will Help

Why do we keep missing things when we proofread our own work? And what can we do about that? The answers lie in brain science. The brain operates at two levels: a conscious, more careful mode, and an unconscious, instinctive level. That unconscious level processes outside conscious awareness. To prevent overload when operating in that mode, the brain shows us what we expect to see. So if there’s an extra identical word, the brain will not “see” one of them. Or if we use the word “there” when “their” is correct, we’ll see “their.” Mark Twain wasn’t a brain scientist, but he understood all this. He said about proofreading: And then there is that other thing: when you think you are reading proof, whereas you are merely reading your own mind; your statement of the thing is full of holes & vacancies, but you don’t know it, because you are filling them from your mind as you go along. There are some ways to “trick” your brain into seeing your copy fresh. One way is to read the text backwards, sentence by sentence.. Without the ability to put the text in context, your brain will be more likely to see grammar and spelling errors. You can accomplish some of the same things if you read paragraphs out of order. You might read your text out loud. This will help you circumvent the brain’s autocorrect process. Printing the document may also help you “see” the text differently. Or, have someone else review your text. Another reader will see the errors your brain is screening out. Freelancers are available to help you with this. Freelancers can help with all aspects of your writing, from proofreading to more substantive editing, to research and original writing. A freelancer reviewing your text may be more likely to see things as your judge will, as...

Freelance Attorneys Learn to Blog Better with Cari Twitchell

Do you like our blog?  Well, it’s about to get even better—thanks to Cari Twitchell, a writer, editor and law-trained content-marketing strategist. Cari joined us for lunch to share her tips and tricks, based on years of writing content.  Her presentation covered blogging basics:  getting started, choosing a strategy, finding topics that will get noticed, making use of keywords, imagery, and mobile-responsive design, and connecting with social media.  If you blog, or are thinking about it, I heartily recommend connecting with Cari and learning more about her technique. A few highlights, useful to both freelance lawyers and the lawyers who hire them: Posts should be as long as needed to make the point (at least 250-300 words), but not longer—a blog reader’s attention span maxes out at about 7 minutes (about 1600 words). Choose topics wisely.  Find out what your audience is searching for, especially the words they use to find it (the magic “keywords”)—then sprinkle those words throughout your post so search engines will recognize your post may have the answer. Include hyperlinks (Cari recommends 2 to 4 links per post, starting in the first paragraph) and mobile-responsive contact information (for example, a bio with a phone number that allows a viewer to place a call by simply touching the screen). Be easy on the reader’s eyes.  Bullet points, numbered lists, and white space are all good.  Bold and italics don’t show up well on the screen.  Visual images are always a plus, but of course, use only with permission and attribution. Share posts on social media as long as they’re relevant.  We still get asked about some of our earliest posts—what is a freelance attorney , how we get paid, and what the ethics rules say about hiring us.  If people still want to know, it’s okay to share. I’ve been blogging for more than a year,...

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