I have heard that a person’s propensity for words versus numbers begins in the brain. “Right-brained” people are creative. “Left-brained” people are analytical. Turns out that’s not so much true. (See “An Evaluation of the Left-Brain vs. Right-Brain Hypothesis with Resting State Functional Connectivity Magnetic Resonance Imaging.” http://tinyurl.com/l3pgbbh) The two sides of the brain work together. In my case, they work together with words – and not so much with numbers.
I can calculate a tip and convert fractions to percentages pretty easily, but it’s words that flow freely through my brain. I don’t struggle with “there,” “their” and “they’re.” I know when to use “your” versus “you’re.” “Its” and “it’s” don’t trip me up. Don’t even get me started on grammar! We could be here all day.
Not every word comes naturally to me. I hated the transition from 1999 to 2000 because I kept having to spell “millennium.” (Still can’t do it. I just looked it up.) I love Mediterranean food, but I can’t spell it. Even easy words, like “separate” and “capitol,” give me pause. After all, spell check doesn’t catch everything.
I have a few tricks that I use regularly. I remind myself there’s “a rat” in “separate.” The words “letter paper” contain more “e”s than “a”s, so I remember “stationery” – with an “e” – is letter paper. “Affect” is usually a verb, causing me to remember “effect” is a noun. (Get it… “cause and effect.”)
Because I know certain words are bound to come out of my fingers all jumbled up, I add them to AutoCorrect in Microsoft Word. I tend to add an extra “m” on the end of “supreme,” so I added that to AutoCorrect. When I was studying for my master’s of applied politics and writing about Democrats and Republicans, I added those words to AutoCorrect.
Not everyone is a word nerd like me. If you know you struggle with certain words or grammar issues, make a point to check them when you’ve finished writing. Again, Microsoft Word has a great search and replace option. I use it all the time when I’m editing copy for clients.