Get the Lead Out

Certain words are easy to get wrong.

Some people spell words incorrectly or type the wrong word because they don’t know any better. That’s understandable. English spelling is hard.

I wish I had that excuse. The words I most often get wrong are ones I know how to spell — and know the difference between them, like pore and pour or stationery and stationary. Somehow, in the heat of writing, I still get them confused.

My biggest problem word — even worse than it’s and its — comes with the past tense of the verb pertaining to leadership. If the word for the gray, heavy metal can be spelled lead, then why not the past tense of the verb to lead. But it’s led, and I nearly always type it wrong.

Fortunately, I know it’s a weakness, so I’ve learned to search for lead in my drafts and transmute it to led.

But just when I think I’ve solved my problems with word pairs, another springs from ambush. This week it was a reference to an emergency car repair. The solution? The article said bailing wire. Spell check didn’t catch it. Bailing is a legitimate term … for removing water from a leaking boat. But for securing bales of hay, using baling wire (or twine).

Fortunately, someone caught my mistake before press time. Which leads to the third solution. After you’ve used spell check and checked your known weaknesses, be sure to have someone proofread.

You’ll feel more confident about your writing — at least until the next time.

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About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.

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