There are few details in the world of writing that come under more scrutiny than grammar. Even seasoned writers can find themselves grappling with the finer points. Those same seasoned writers also discovered early on that if they want to make friends with their editors, they need to share some of the editing responsibility.
While it is important to view every manuscript as a draft until the final draft is settled upon and submitted, it is always good policy to write as if you are about to submit the finished product right now. Editing might not be the most exciting part of your project, but it is necessary.
Good grammar lends authority to what you write. Bad grammar destroys it. Don’t take the responsibility of knowing and using good grammar lightly. There are few things in the world of writing that are criticized more hotly, especially when mistakes slip through the cracks and get submitted to a particularly difficult editor.
Using online editing apps – a word of advice
If you wish to become a better writer over time, you should not rely on applications like Hemingway and Grammarly to correct your mistakes forever. While they do have a good deal of value, they really exist to spot mistakes made due to carelessness, not lack of knowledge. If you make too many careless errors and don’t proofread or edit your work, you will spend an undue amount of time poring over and fixing problems in it.
Also, keep in mind that online editing tools rarely take into account the tone and mood of your writing. Sometimes, tools like Hemingway suggest changes that alter the message of the text. Algorithms cannot capture the spirit of your writing. Having your unique voice speak through what you write is important regardless of what you are writing or why.
Only you know how to properly convey the thoughts, ideas, images, and emotions created through your writing so don’t leave it up to a bot. With that in mind, here are a few things you can do to improve your use of grammar, as well as your writing skills overall.
#1: Read your own work
Take a break from your own writing and clear your head. After a few hours, come back to your content and read it. Ask yourself if everything makes sense. You may decide you need more information in some areas and less in others. You are also apt to spot a good number of mistakes. Be sure to fix them as you see them so you don’t have to hunt for them again later.
Editors read a huge amount of bad writing. If you submit a well-written, well-organized article with minimal errors, that alone could bump you up the priority list. Reading and re-reading is the best way to ensure you are submitting the best content you are capable of writing.
#2: Learn and use more synonyms
Repeated and common words are very mundane. They also tend to create grammatical issues stemming from redundancy within the text. While it is true that you don’t want to use pedantic speech or arcane words and phrases in your writing, there are numerous examples of words that have a very over-used feel. Those words can be easily replaced with synonyms that are more interesting in nature. Avoid overused phrases and scan your piece for repeated words and phrases.
#3: Step away from the computer
Once in a while, this is just plain necessary. Sometimes, the best cure for writer’s block is to stop trying to force the issue. Step away, do something else you enjoy, then come back to the piece with renewed focus. This helps when you’re blocked, but also when your thoughts feel like they’re wandering. Sometimes it’s best to let them wander. Work with your brain, not against it. It’s a clear recipe for success not just in writing, but in every aspect of life in general.
#4: Adhere to structure and formatting guidelines
Novice writers tend to underestimate the importance of using headings, introductions, paragraphs, and conclusions. Blogs or articles are more than just words. How those words are presented matter. You need to know and understand the formatting requirements for everything you write and adhere to them. Writing that is well-formatted communicates knowledge of and respect for the subject and can, in and of itself, get you more attention.
#5: Understand the words you use
Don’t attempt to write beyond the boundaries of your understanding of the subject or the language. Using bigger words incorrectly are a sure-fire way to lose credibility with your readers. Look up any word whose definition and contextual relevance are not immediately understood by you.
Never guess at word meanings. Doing so can drastically alter the message you are attempting to send. If needs be, start with an “easier” word and use a thesaurus to explore better options to use in your article. Be sure, also, that any synonym you use makes sense in the context of the sentence and paragraph in which it is used, along with the overall subject of the article.
#6: Correct obvious mistakes
Never burden an editor with obvious errors. Go back and re-read your piece one last time before settling on a final draft. You will be amazed at how many errors you’ll uncover when your brain switches from “write mode” to “read mode.” When you do, correct them, then submit your final draft with confidence.
Anyone can write, but few can really write well. If you desire to up your writing game a little, start by understanding the importance of using good grammar and taking some of the advice presented in this article. All of the above ideas represent good decisions that will serve to make you a better writer in a shorter amount of time.
Guest author: Kurtis Brase is an independent writer and content editor at the educational resource EssayPro.com. Her expertise includes education, business and lifestyle.