• The Editor

Read it backwards

Sometimes backwards is the way to move your ideas forward.

Proofreading your own writing is definitely not the easiest.


Our minds are just blind to certain mistakes. Especially things like duplicate words ('to to', 'the the', 'and and' are the most common). We miss pluralisation, where we've added an s to a word that doesn't need it. We use the wrong tenses. No full stops at the ends of paragraphs. Edits get made, but we leave behind an original word or two.


The best writers, journos and copywriters all make these mistakes. So try doing the thing recommended to me on my NCTJ Journalism course: read your work backwards.


The words in isolation now take on a new meaning. Your brain can't read them as a sentence. So you'll spot spelling mistakes and typos. You'll notice those overlong sentences and your dodgy use of verbs.


But there's something else about reading things backwards. You can use to mine new ideas.


Despite the back-to-front nature of what you're doing, the brain just can't help itself. It's an interpretation engine and will always try to make sense of what it's reading. It's stubborn like that. Despite your best efforts, your mind will still try to make connections between words, even when they're round the wrong way.


And that's where new ideas can arise.


New word combinations = new word connections = equal new ideas. Sometimes at least. It's definitely worth a go because a sentence might stand out that you hadn't paid much attention to before. Or the semblance of a phrase may conjure itself up, triggering a thought and, well, you get the idea (or ideas, hopefully).


The people who really appreciate the creative value of word reversal are the 'palindromists'. As you may (or not) know, a word that reads the same backwards as forwards is a palindrome. Things like 'racecar' and 'level' and 'noon'.


And there are people who create new palindromes all the time, just for fun. I'm not joking. In fact, they have magazines dedicated to them. And there are annual awards given for the best palindromes, judged by the likes of "Weird Al" Yankovic, Demetri Martin and the rapper MC Paul Barman no less.


So there's definitely merit to be had in reading things the other way around.


Can't get enough of reading backwards? Read this blog post backwards. In it, you will find there is absolutely no secret message. How about that!


Or maybe your brain would prefer to check out our curated weekly strand - the ironically named FFWDtv - for more on The Palindromists. If so, just drop in tomorrow for some more 'backwards' thinking.