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37. Questioning the spelling of a commonly used word

Have you ever been writing something, like an essay for a school project or maybe just a new blog post, and then forget the spelling of a word? The spell check feature of my browser or word processor usually takes care of it but there have been times when I’ve experienced this awkwardness. Here, let me explain this through a little mental experiment:

In your mind, you see the sentence: We have many things in common.

You might not visualize it, perhaps you hear it in your mind. Or maybe you just know the sentence, and it arrives to your mind in one instant thought. . . eh, whatever your mind decides.

We have many things in common.

You spell it out, and if you don’t have access to a spell check program, you might start to question the spelling of the word common. You say it to yourself once, then you say it again. Suddenly you’ve said it four or five times and then the word sounds weird! Common? Common.. common.. common. Common!? C’mon, people. Say it to yourself: Common! Common. Writing this is getting a little difficult for me now, I think I should stop typing (and saying) that word. Even the word seems strange now.

So THEN, your mind begins to really get confused about it. Before you know it, you’re questioning the existence of the word. If you don’t stop there, you will end up questioning the existence of every word out there and you may never see the world in the same way again! Ever!

O.K. maybe I exaggerated a little bit there.

The thing I’ve discovered recently, is that you can do that with just about ANY word out there. Pick a word and say it to yourself 10 times and try spelling it out. The word itself will appear odd, maybe the letter A begins to stop looking like the letter A (or at least what we think it should look like) and we might have to review our Sesame Street episodes to let it sink into our brains once again.

So I have a tip for you writers out there. If you thought writer’s block was a problem, you’ve never come across this word hiccup. Consider yourself fortunate for that. In order to prevent it from happening, you must learn to acknowledge it. Notice it when it starts to happen and stop trying to bring sense into it, trying to “fix” it will only make it worse. Trust me on this one, I’ve ruined perfectly awesome words for a couple of days before.

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  1. Over thinking can be hazardous … you’re right. I do remember one instance in a game of scrabble when I spelled dolphin as “dolfin.” Since I was the English major of the group no one questioned me. No one thought twice about it and I won the game.

    June 1, 2011
  2. Dolfin. Hahaha it looks about right . .

    June 9, 2011
  3. I couldn’t agree more with what Lafemmeror said. I’ve just posted a blog entry 3 hours ago and the word “wether” got me. And yeah, it’s supposed to be a COMMON word.

    June 16, 2011
    • Whether? Wether? Oh man, I thought about it too much again. Hahaha, that word ALWAYS gets me as well! ALWAYS! Ahh!

      I appreciate the comment! Thank you 🙂


      June 16, 2011
  4. You’re welcome. After reading your blog post on Freshly Pressed (FP) I did a sort of tour on your site and I stumbled upon this post. Anything about language and stuff magnets me. That explains why I commented on this post.

    Btw, your blog is beyond question interesting. No wonder one of your entries made it on FP. Keep your creative juice flowing here. 🙂

    June 17, 2011
  5. magnet me … tsk tsk tsk! F*** you are so right!

    June 17, 2011
  6. Magnetize … 🙂 overthinking is the culprit.

    June 17, 2011
    • Cotton! This word got me today. Ahhh!!!!!!!!!!!

      July 21, 2011
  7. zissathegeek #

    AHHHH!I thought I was the only one who did this.This makes me feel better.:-)

    July 20, 2011
    • Haha you’re not alone, my friend! I’m glad you feel a bit more normal now 🙂


      July 21, 2011
  8. I felt better too … 🙂

    July 20, 2011

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