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Most writers have their arch nemesis, those fickle words that just won’t appear on the screen properly. Backwards vowels, missing letters, a correct spelling that ultimately is the demise of the sentence because it’s the wrong, freaking word.

When reading over work, especially your own, it’s easy for your eyes to fill in the missing gaps, rearrange words into a proper order, even delete instances of times when mistakes like “the-the” occur. This is one of the reasons a writer needs to set aside a book for long enough to forget the word structure or have someone else look the story over.

Here’s a short list of some of my most common mistakes, the ones that I can remember off the top of my head because they happen so often. This list is not comprehensive and I have done much, much worse, up to and including typing in rhyming words or even typing a synonym or close-to a synonym in place of the word I wanted to write.


gave instead of have

swapping ie and ei or ai and ia

hwere instead of where



Misspell, dissipate, occasionally, villain, rhythm, museum



Never putting the ‘r’ at the end of words. All my years in school, I would go back through notebooks to find my chapter headings read like: “Chapte One.” Every time.



In terms of my absolute worst word moment, it wasn’t in written form at all. I spoke it. Out loud. I can’t even tell you what we’d been talking about or what I’d been saying. All I know is that I used the word:


Doesn’t that look like a nice word? A useful word?

Right after I said it, there was this fraction of a moment where I though, wait, was that…? Nah, everything’s good. What I said made total sense. I checked, guys. I checked and then told myself there was absolutely nothing wrong.

And then came the inevitable, “Did you mean…stampede?”

Here’s what I think happened. I was beyond exhausted, needing desperately to go to bed and in my subconscious’ eternal wisdom, decided to mash up the words trample and stampede to form a new one. They’re so similar that when I did a check to make sure what I’d said made sense, my mind went, “whelp, they all mean pretty much the same thing, so…all good!”

I was heavily concerned about my mental faculties after that and started paying more attention to how much sleep I was getting.