Monday, August 30, 2010


Stares, stairs. To, two, too. Their, there, they're. Who's, whose.
Architecture. Dilemma. Procrastination...These are a few of my least favourite words.

Why? Because I know their spellings. I know how, where and when they are used, but for reason I can't begin to imagine, I have a fifty-fifty chance of getting them when I write.

It drives the perfectionistic side of me up the walls. Surely I'm smart enough to get the difference? When I read what I have written, I tend to catch the mistake immediately. But not while I'm writing...

I've been thinking of reasons for this phenomenon and so far I only have a good reason for the first group. In a word: Homophones.

Basically to me, writing is the reverse of reading. When I read, I see the words, "hear" them in my head and form a mental picture. When I write, I see a picture, "hear" the words describing them and write them down. I think that when I write fast, I just write the first thing I hear without paying attention to the meaning of the word. So... picking between two or three words that sound the same might be a problem.

You may think I'm exaggerating, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Sometimes I "listen" and write so fast that my eyes have to play catch-up. So it feels like I'm reading instead of writing. Weird/sad but true.

That may or may not mean that I am insane... Which is a good reason why the other group of words is a challenge. But... on pondering this in the post, I think I hit on the other reason: I don't pay attention. I get so absorbed in what I'm writing that spelling something correctly becomes insignificant.

I'm wondering if anyone else has problems with certain words...


  1. As writers we all have those words that make us want to TRY NOT TO USE THEM. It's seemingly impossible in our crazy writing world. I have a problem with there & their, to & too!! I'm still learning on how to properly use it!

    Great post!

  2. Thanks! I'm glad that I'm not the only one. Maybe we should start a support group for the homophonically challenged ;-)

  3. For sure! I don't struggle with to/too or their/there/they're, but sometimes I'll type something and it just won't look right. But it is. So yeah. My brain goes through some weird things sometimes.

  4. Hahaha I know what you mean. I used to hate it when I wrote essays for English and struck out a word that I thought was spelt wrong, only to get the essay back with points subtracted because I was right the first time.


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