Why Inserting the ‘Mistake’ In Your Article is Important

    mistake in articles

    I remember the time I was watching a video on the ‘water test’

    The ‘water test’ is a method to accurately gauge if a pan is exactly at the right temperature, as the accurate temperature prevents the ingredients from sticking.

    As you might have realised, I had my nose to the video to make sure I wasn’t getting the steps wrong. Yet when I tried it on my pan at home, I couldn’t replicate the water test. No matter how many times I watched the video and tried the exact steps, I still couldn’t get the ‘water test’ to work.

    The reason? I was using a non-stick pan

    Yeah, mine was non-stick and the pan in the video was a stainless steel pan. Heck! You think I would have seen the difference. But I never did, and your readers have the same problem when they’re reading your articles.

    And that’s because they’re not just reading. They’re trying to read, assimilate and execute the learning at one go.

    And in doing so, they miss out some valuable points

    In effect, they make ‘mistakes’. And those in-attentional mistakes can be avoided if you take the trouble to educate your reader. Of course the easiest formula to achieve this goal is to do the following:

    Step 1: Give the reader the steps to follow.
    Step 2: Point out the hurdles along the way.

    Step 1: Give the reader the steps to follow

    Let’s say you’re teaching the reader how to cook a delicious chicken tikka masala. Obviously, you’d give them steps, because the reader is now following a recipe. And that’s what most recipes do. They tell you what to do. But they don’t tell you what possible problems or mistakes you could make while executing the dish. Which is where Step 2 comes into play.

    Step 2: Point out the hurdles along the way

    So ha jee, we have shown the reader how to make the chicken dish, but now we need to point out where they can go wrong. They may fry the spices too long, causing a bitter after taste. Or the gravy may turn a bit sour. And when we point out these mistakes, we help the reader avoid the obstacles in advance.

    This gives your article two solid advantages

    Any article that covers both the how-to as well as the mistakes immediately marks itself out as a solid, enduring piece of information. The second advantage however, is that if your article instantly gets beefed up to a nice, solid consistency every single time.

    But what are the mistakes you can make when adding ‘mistakes?’

    The problem with article-writing isn’t that you have less information. In fact the reverse is often true. You have the curse of knowledge. So you try to stuff your article with a whole lot of how-to information. And then while the reader rolls around with indigestion, you proceed to add even more on his plate.

    And there’s a way around this problem

    You want to balance out the how-to with the mistakes. If you have two or three steps involved in the how-to, then a mistake or two is fine to slip in, just to balance things a bit. But should you find yourself generating half a dozen mistakes or more, it’s probably a better idea to write an article (or two) that covers the mistakes alone.

    Pointing out the mistakes a reader can make are crucial

    I sure as heck should have known that I should have been using a stainless steel pan. The pan was right in front of my eyes in the video I was watching. And yet I missed it. And so will your reader.

    So point out the mistakes and both you and your reader will go on to make many more perfect chicken tikka masalas for a long, long time.

    About the author

      Sean D'Souza

      Sean D'Souza is a writer, marketing guru and expert on sales psychology. Read more by Sean on Psychotactics.com

    • I find that doing video blog posts help me in this area. For some reason I do better at making videos than when I do traditional article. I think it’s because I’m very talkative so it comes naturally, almost like a teacher. Anyway, good post, lots of good things to keep in mind!

    • Dave Filon says:

      Great article. That’s the thing about being an expert, it is the simple things that get you. When writing a procedure or instruction your extensive knowledge in the subject will cause errors in the instructions. It is always key to remember your audience. If your audience knew how to do a water test they wouldn’t be reading your article. One trick I’ve learned over the years is have someone that knows absolutely nothing about the subject follow the instructions. You will find any “hidden” mistakes quickly. My office staff hated when I asked them to test out my instructions on the machinery in my polymer plant. If my receptionist could start up a line then I knew the instructions were right.

      Thanks to all at WTD. I’m learning so much.

    • priya says:

      Really admirable post. Explained in detail. I love the way it is presented.

    • Jeff Goins says:

      Transparency and authenticity always win. Great post.

    • tobiloba says:

      i so much like this article, it really point out how to write a real article. i love it so so much, hopr to read more of this

      ////////\\\\\\\\ thanks, Bammy.

    • boy suits says:

      Yes we do many mistake in our life and some time mistakes are enjoyable for us. You also says very well and so nice ideas.

    • Good Article!

      I’d like to share a couple of observations from past experience. My focus now is on creative writing and blogging but in the past I’ve worked as a technical writer and trainer.

      The key is to provide step-by-step procedures as concisely as possible but still point out areas that require special attention. I don’t want to ‘steal your thunder’, you’ve made your point well. Mainly, I’m making practical application and possibly pointing out some types of resources that may be helpful.

      Thank you!

    • Hi Mary, Hi Sean! How cool is this – I’ve been following Sean’s stuff for years!
      Pointing out the mistakes and hurdles to avoid (or mount with high energy!) is a way of going that extra mile! Good stuff Sean, as usual! I’ve learned a lot from your articles over the years!

    • Joel says:

      Very practical advice, thanks!

    • Many people suffer from the same problem. Not only in article writing but also when they try to explain something.

      Focusing on a few points and pointing out a mistake or two makes for a great template, both online and offline.

      Another very informative article.

      Great work.


    • >