Why it’s Good to Make Mistakes as a Writer

    make mistakes as a writer

    As writers we need to write correctly, right? It’s embarrassing if you publish stuff with mistakes. Yes, all of us writers need to guard against extravagating. So, let’s see if you know how to use some important words correctly.

    But before I do that, let me tell you a story:

    I was recently enduring a kilfud-yoking with a fellow-writer.  His pawky humor was enough to make me keck. In fact, after a while I felt like levigating him!

    With me so far?


    Well … the words I’m introducing you to are unusual. OK, so using them correctly isn’t maybe that important. And that’s the point here. So often, we are obsessed with ‘getting things right’. Many writers never publish anything because this fear holds them back. I know a bunch of would-be bloggers who never get going because they fear they won’t ‘get things right’.

    We all have our particular problems with GTR (Getting Things Right). For example, I have problems with proofreading. Why, oh why can’t I see those nasty, obreptious little gremlins? Luckily, most readers are kind and give me a heads-up about what needs correcting. Some send me strange emails, like this one:

    “Are you aware that there is a mistake in the first paragraph?”

    Answer: “No. If I was aware of this mistake, I would correct it.”

    A few months ago  I got a fire-brand email that made me murl inside: “How can you call yourself a blogger if you can’t even PROOFREAD what you write?!” (I deleted that email…)

    Are YOU anxious about ‘getting things right’?

    If so, my suggestion is to allow yourself to be less than perfect. It’s nice to be perfect, but creativity and perfectionism aren’t good bedfellows. I think it’s much better to be creative and productive as a writer than to get things right.

    A great antidote to GTR is to have some fun. Here is a task that will help you refollicate:

    Find a weird word in a reputable dictionary and use it elegantly in a comment below.

    Let’s see who comes up with some funny examples, followed by a glossary. Like this one:
    To extravagate: to wander away from the right course into error.
    Kilfud-yoking: Fireside disputation
    Pawky: dry humor.
    To keck: to make a sound as if to vomit.
    To levigate:to reduce to powder.
    To murl:to crumble
    To refollicate: to refresh.

    What words can you find and use creatively? How do you deal with GTR?

    About the author

      Mary Jaksch

      Mary Jaksch is best known for her exceptional training for writers at WritetoDone.com and for her cutting-edge book, Youthful Aging Secrets. In her “spare” time, Mary is also the brains behind GoodlifeZEN.com, a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

    • Rohi says:

      My current favorite is “coolish”.
      Much cooler than cool.

    • Okay, so that list of words just totally made my day. I’m a bit of a vocabulary nut. Chewy words are even better than chocolate!

    • Oops, sorry.
      floccinaucinihilipilification: Estimating something as worthless.

    • Ah, but many of the people who leave snotty comments are simply addicted to floccinaucinihilipilification of the content. Best just to say, “Meh!”

    • Angela Craven says:

      I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer though high-school and college and found myself adopting Joss Whedon speak. It is no longer the 90’s but I’m still using those words… ah!

      “That gives me the wiggins.”

    • Mark says:

      “They were ransacking the joint looking for the password when they heard a car drive up and decided to absquatulate.”

    • Morgan says:

      Folderol is definitely one of my favorite esoteric words!

    • Christine says:

      Bargool! At age two, my daughter said bargool for “garbage.” Our family still loves and uses this word.

      • Barbara says:

        Nabokov writes, I think in Speak Memory, of the silly private language of families.
        Two of my favorites are–feeyaedga, and rayrayfrazier. Give up? Refrigerator!

    • What a brilliantine post Mary, oops sorry, meant to say brilliant of course, I see brilliantine means “a light lustrous fabric that is similar to alpaca and is woven usually with a cotton warp and oh dear, am I giving you too much information as my wife sometimes likes to say.

      Without wanting to toast too much, since worrying JoAnn, I meant to say marrying JoAnn I have actually been very helpful to her and increased her vocabulary a lot.

      Which reminds me how when I was a tiny tiny fellow and first tried to pronounce vocabulary I put the emphasis on vocaBULary which for some reason gave everyone a heck of a laugh.

    • Mary, I love this! Like some of the commenters above, my daughter came up with my favorite. It is a made up word that she came up with when she was five. She was telling a story about a particularly bad day at school and she said, “It was a disastrophe!” So now I use it all the time!

    • CJ says:

      Thank you, Mary!

      My girlfriend and I discovered the word farctated a few years ago. That word never ceases to stop people up short if used at the end of a meal. It somehow seems to catch them as sounding dirty or nasty.

      Of course, we could probably say that overeating to the point of farctation IS nasty.

      I just watched my 7 y/o struggle with this idea of perfection stopping production. He couldn’t come up with two more clever sentences to write with his spelling words. (His sentences each week are just hilarious, and sometimes quite poignant.) He described his process of how the sentences come to him, and he just couldn’t come up with two more. He did not want to write just any two sentences in order to say the assignment was complete.

      An interesting situation to be in as a mother. We talked a bit about settling for mundane sentences vs. incomplete assignments and I let him decide what felt like the right choice.

      He decided if they couldn’t be clever they didn’t need to be completed.


    • Bridget says:

      Ah, perfection … I just wrote a blog about balance perfection with imperfection. I got responses about what a relief it was to think of not having to be “perfect.” I also got some people correcting my writing errors, but even suggesting I leave them in, as it may be what made my imperfections perfect. Refollicate — I may have to steal that one. See my blog on perfectionism here: http://bridgetbakernow.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/what-if-it-was-perfect-that-youre-not-perfect/

    • I’m proud to be a glossator of rare value, Deb. And I agree with Kathleen that it’s important not to feel discombombulated when we misspell. Although that’s difficult because we think errors tend to misimprove our writing – which is frankly redunkulous!

      But, let’s face it – at the end of the day it’s important not to mislive…

    • The dwizzen-faced old man was deliriously happy to dringle the day away counting his chinkers.

      dwizzen-descriptive of one with a parched appearance as in withered fruit
      dringle-to waste time in a lazy manner
      chinker-coins, money

      Personally, I am kind of persnickety when it comes to spelling and grammar…and not only in myself. Reading someone’s work that has typos or poor grammar is distracting and takes away some of the enjoyment of the content. I’m certainly not perfect and have been told when my proofreading needed proofreading, but I believe we should all try to spell correctly and use proper grammar without obsessing about it.

      • CJ says:

        I love your three words, Marcia! I have always been a fan of slipping in an off beat word here or there.

        I understand that persnicketiness. (?) It usually gives me pause to notice if I’m judging someone because of the odd typo or spelling error, or judging myself if I’ve missed one in my own writing.

        Thanks for those words!

        Esp. dringle!!

        • I read blogs by people who apologize because English is not their first language – OK by me, that adds to the charm, and is a part of the reason why I read them. I enjoy making up words, and reusing old words in a new way – then have to warn a Swiss German friend – you won’t find that in the dictionary, will have to read between the lines.

          But, being persnickety, we are all timestressed, and if the blogger presents as English speaking but too timestressed to check before she posts, then I too am too timestressed, and will move on. Unless it is a blog I read regularly and I know that right now, her life is getting in the way of her blog.

          Then there’s the down to earth shock of Googling a word I think I ‘invented’, and finding it is already there, and used to mean something quite other! We called our sparrow SpirulinO, SpirulinA grew a bib and turned out to be a cock sparrow. But Google tells me the word does already exists – a guitar technique and …

    • kathleen says:

      I recently learned the word ‘discombobulation’ … I worry alot about GTR but I have to learn not to discombobulate when i make a mistake, instead to Keep Calm and Carry on.
      Thanks for the reminder that Creativity and Perfection don’t go well together!

    • Mary – You are a glossator of rare value. I case you’re wondering, such a person is a writer of glosses, ie explanations, notes or technical or unusual expressions in a text. Or, an artfully misleading interpretation. You decide.

      Cheers, Deb

    • Hi Mary,

      I agree completely — writing has to be fun.

      This isn’t quite to your point, but there are two expressions I’d like to expunge from the language: “let’s face it,” and “at the end of the day.”

      “Let’s face it” is so overused it makes me hurl. I just got a new e-book from a very reputable blogger in which that’s the opener. It almost made me want to stop reading.

      • kathleen says:

        Hi Jean – I have to agree with you on this! I know someone who uses ‘at the end of the day’ AD NAUSEUM..I just switch off when I hear her begin a sentence with that..

    • Mary, you have caused me to take a journey through my copy of the 1969 edition of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Through the years I have underlined and circled words, drawn arrows and written in the margins. I was nearly through it when I found:

      warp and woof (entry is a phrase): the underlying structure upon which something is built; a foundation; base.

      I wrote, 1) “Ronna Schwartz Robertson–“warp & woof”–lace making, weaving, 35th class reunion, 7/6/96

    • Hi Mary,
      I love this! It took me a long time to get over readers pointing out my errors. In fact I did improve because of it. When I think the alternative could have been not blogging at all, I’m glad I just let it all hang out.

      My grandson is two years old and he’s a abecedarian. (someone who’s learning the alphabet)! Is that a hoot or what?

    • I like redunkulous. My son uses it. Now his kids use it. Now isn’t THAT redunkulous?!

    • My teen taught me to say “Argyblargy!” when things go wrong. Made up words can be fun.

      I’m with you, Mary…part of the fun of blogging is that it’s not traditional publishing. What we give up in the occasional typo we hopefully make up for in greater volume of useful information getting out to people much faster.

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