• j.mee

Stale eyes...


How do proofreaders do it?

Recently, a friend offered to put my name forward for a copywriting job at his company. It's a field I've been thinking of moving towards, so the invitation to throw my hat in this ring was both exciting and scary. I promptly read over my resume, revamped the layout so it was crisp and modern, took a deep breath and hit send.

My friend promptly replied - pointing out an error in stylistic choice AND an obvious layout mistake. I made the changes he suggested, thanked him, and sent it in again. This time, he submitted it.

But how did that happen? I literally checked the document multiple times before I forwarded it to him. (And I don't mean 'literally' figuratively, like so many speakers do... I actually sat down and read and reread every word. Multiple times.) Even still - an obvious error! An error so obvious, I immediately shame spiralled into - 'they'll never give me the job, now!' How did that happen?

I blame stale eyes.

You've heard of fresh eyes? As in, get someone to look over it with 'fresh eyes'. Well, stale eyes are their counterpoint. They're the eyes that went past their prime, staring at a document, working and reworking the language until it all clumped together in English language gobble-di-gook. (Have you ever tried looking at a single word for too long? They disintegrate into pure nonsense! Go ahead, try writing or saying 'disintegrate' ten times. See what happens... I'll wait.) Stale eyes is actually our brain over-compensating. We've been staring at the same document for two hours? Twenty minutes? Our brain starts working harder to find the patterns or glean the information or attain results we are seeking, so we can move on with our day.

It's science.

But, you can combat it. Asking someone else to look with 'fresh eyes' is always a good idea, but, you can be your own fresh eyes as well. Take a break. Let yourself off the hook. Your brain needs a moment. Walk away. Play with a puppy. Sing in a shower. Eat a healthy dinner. Then return. And boom! Your eyes are fresh again!

Science wants you to cuddle a poodle. Don't read with stale eyes.

#askforhelp #staleeyes #science #takeabreak #proofread #gobbledigook #literally #cuddleapoodle

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