Self Transformation .com

How to Divorce Proofreading from Perfectionism

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a typical review of Proofread Anywhere (although, of course, I am an affiliate and proudly stand behind Proofread Anywhere’s programs), but it is a review of proofreading itself, in a way, and how I’ve grown as a human because of what I’ve learned as a lifelong proofreader, an author, and through my work as the founder of the top proofreading training company on Earth.

That’s right — hello! I’m Caitlin Pyle, the founder of Proofread Anywhere. Welcome to my personal blog… enjoy the read!

—–

Being a lifelong proofreader has often inhibited me from authentic expression.

Sometimes life

feels fragmented

And bro-ken.

But that’s okay.

Sometimes life is a run-on sentence that never seems to stop and drains the life right out of us and it triggers a state of spiritual emergency that forces you to finally stop and learn how to

actually

breathe for once.

Hear me loud and clear: I firmly believe proofreading is important.

It’s polishing for your words.

But you know what’s not important?

Perfection.

Something that doesn’t even exist can’t be important.

If you’ve been a proofreader for a while now or you’re thinking about becoming a proofreader, I just want you to know that proofreading is not about perfection.

Proofreading is about clarity and readability.

Of course you want to do the best possible job you can, but you’ll exhaust yourself if you strive for an impossible ideal.

Perfection doesn’t exist. People are messy.

The most common quest of a new proofreader is perfectionism, and perfectionism is the thing that stops so many aspiring proofreaders from succeeding — they believe they have to be perfect to even start.

This is how many writers feel, too.

For a long time, I avoided writing because it felt like I had to word everything perfectly and make zero mistakes, or… what?

What was I afraid of?

I was afraid people would think I was some kind of fraud proofreader — which I wanted to avoid like the plague because my writing was a kind-of billboard for my proofreading courses at the time.

Imposter syndrome at its finest!!

Now, I can write with reckless abandon because I finally stopped thinking about writing and started writing.

I no longer obsessively read and reread before publishing something because I’m terrified of making a mistake or not being clear enough.

And y’know what? It’s so freeing!

When I think about writing instead of just writing, I’m much less focused than when I just… write.

Thinking is often scattered. Writing is deeply meditative.

Writing focuses your mind and demands your full presence. It is impossible not to be present when you’re writing. When you’re in this state, what emerges from within you can feel magical.

Try this: Grab a notebook and your favorite color pen. Open your notebook. Say hello to yourself. Then… allow your stream of consciousness to flow unbridled.

Watch what emerges.

If “nothing” emerges, it’s likely because you’re thinking too much about what to write. Maybe you feel angry or annoyed. Start there! Write, “I am angry because…” or “I am unhappy because…” and don’t worry if it’s messy or imperfect. No one is watching. You can be fully authentic in front of yourself.

(If this feels extremely difficult, I invite you to attend the next Transform retreat to figure out why :))

Writing is the best way to uncover your genius.

It’s the best way to discover and learn about yourself. Allow questions to pop into your mind, and expect the answers to come. You know more than you might think, and you’re way more interesting than you think, too.

Historically, I’ve avoided traditional meditation — and still do — because I prefer meditating through writing, taking walks, and listening to high-frequency music while lifting weights at the gym — sometimes finding myself on the verge of tears as I’m doing my last set of stationary lunges with bicep curls because I finally allowed myself to relax while exercising.

I finally realized that working out wasn’t about punishing myself anymore.

I’ve also realized that meditation isn’t so much about clearing your mind, although it can be. You can work to clear your mind and “think about nothing” if you want. But I’ve found that picking up a pen or sitting down with a keyboard and writing helps me gain much more clarity.

I’m not “somewhere else” in my mind when I’m supposed to be present and thinking about nothing. I consciously choose a thought and follow it, staying present with it to see where it goes and then allowing it to be expressed in vibrant purple ink on the sacred lines of my notebook.

(Fun fact about me 😜 I only write by hand with purple ballpoint pens. I really love the Bic Cristal pens and bought a box of 12 of them. They last a long time, and I love the color!!!)

When I was at Proofread Anywhere, I often felt like people expected perfection from me. And some people definitely did expect that. But many others didn’t. Those folks became part of the tribe 🙂 I’m still friends with so many amazing people I met because of Proofread Anywhere. They know I’m far from perfect… and they love me anyway.

Expecting perfection or agonizing over the correctness of how something’s written stifles creativity. I love it when a proofreader catches obvious errors that affect clarity or readability, but I love to write just like I talk and prefer it to stay that way. I want my words online to feel like a casual, authentic conversation with a friend you’ve known for years.

My writing on this blog or in my books will never be perfect. Errors will still slip through sometimes, too, even when I pay a proofreader to proofread. Just ask my Transform retreat attendees who saw me laugh when I spotted several typos on my slides even after I paid a proofreader to check them for me 🤣

Over the years, I’ve received my share of criticism from people who would prefer that I perform for them as this sanitized, neutral version of myself that makes them feel squishy and comfortable.

They want a doormat to stand on or a resource from which to siphon.

Some people feel entitled to demand whatever they want from someone to whom they’ve paid a few hundred bucks for an online course. I’ve been on the receiving end of that mentality many times over the years.

And I just don’t tolerate that anymore.

I now see it as disrespectful when someone tries to moderate my speech because they don’t believe it’s “appropriate” or “professional” for a company’s founder to show up to their audience as a real person.

Keyboard warriors… the people who’d never say anything to my face and could just unfollow or unsubscribe or ignore what I’m saying and find something that makes them happy… but instead are hiding behind a computer screen making sure I know that it’s NOT okay for me to be authentic and vulnerable in front of the people I serve.

Being a great proofreader has just as much to do with being a kind, high-vibrational human as it does with being great at catching errors.

Proofreading is a valuable skill that helps people express themselves as clearly as possible. It doesn’t have to be about being grammatically correct all the time — especially when you write like me and simply allow your consciousness to roam.

If you’re writing a textbook, you might want to make it as boring and expository as possible 😆 but if you’re writing a personal blog post like this one, don’t let the fear of imperfection stop you from getting it out there!

Writing is more important than proofreading because proofreading wouldn’t be necessary if nobody ever wrote anything.

If you’re thinking about becoming a proofreader, it’s critical that you not obsess over perfection but instead work to ensure that the writers you assist have clearly expressed their ideas. Their writing should be readable and free of egregious errors.

But don’t fix colloquialisms, personal style, or slang… cuz they ain’t broke, mmmmkay?

Proofreading is profitable in more ways than one. Everybody can profit from better quality in self-expression. And with the rise in the number of writers using artificial intelligence to create content, the role of proofreaders is shifting to encompass so much more than just catching typos. It’s an exciting time to be a proofreader!

If you’re a proofreader, I hope you have a deep appreciation for the clients you serve… and if you, like me, are also a writer, don’t let the fear of what other people think about your authentic self-expression stop you from expressing.

Write with typos. But just write.

Your Turn

What gets in the way of you being authentically you? How do you feel about the art of proofreading when it comes to authentic self-expression? Leave a comment below 🙂 I’d love to hear from you!

SHARE:

3 Responses

  1. THIS was actually good for me to read. I did buy both the Proofread courses back in 2022, and got started, but then family caretaking got in the way and I still haven’t finished even the General course. But I do understand about thinking you have to be so good at catching EVERY little error… it has definitely slowed down my getting through it all because I know I’m not spotting everything, especially all the punctuation stuff. I’ve been thinking that if I couldn’t catch everything, why would anyone want me to check their work. Perfectionism and self-doubt has also affected my launching my Virtual Assistant business too (as well as my caretaking duties have affected launch).

    I’m also still working my way through the replays of the Transformation Retreat. I’ve gotten alot of good info and insight so far. You are doing good with all that.

    And I would LOVE to be able to be living out there as you are… I drove big rigs for almost 20 years, and I really miss that freedom. I’m a gypsy at heart!

    Keep doing you Caitlin!

  2. Hello, Caitlyn:
    When you had those ads out for people who just catch typos. grammatical errors, and/or punctuation mistakes, I knew I was that person. I bought the course for $1000. I was going great, until I hit the real technical stuff – the computer programs for this and that. I bought the books recommended, but became lost in a sea of computer jargon, so to speak. I was thinking, I know how to write, I know how to read, I know how to spell, I know proper word usage, I have a good command of the language, I know what flows… I have a friend who used to ask me to proofread for her, and now she is a proofreader through your course. I am old school – a pen and a highlighter. I used to proof all my boss’s work for 17 years. But somehow, that no longer seemed good enough. I love computers and have written over a dozen short stories. But when I got bogged down in the course, I just set it aside and never went back to it. Sigh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Download the Get Unstuck Now guide and discover how to banish IMPOSTER SYNDROME Forever and GET UNSTUCK in Your Life and Business...

...without spending a dime on expensive therapy.