Grammar and Spelling as a Writer

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Are you a GRAMMAR Junkie?   Perhaps you are a SPELLING BEE?

I put my hands up and will admit, as much as I LOVE WORDS…  English Grammar and Spelling are not my forte.

Dyslexic Writer

This is due, in part, to my dyslexic tendencies – I find that some configuration of letters to be difficult for me to get in the right order.   I often put “i” and “e” in the incorrect order -not because I don’t know how to actually spell the word, but rather when I write or type it, it comes out wrong.

Additionally, there are certain words I love to use, which I have to constantly look up in a dictionary, to ensure that I spell them correct.   I have now found a solution to this problem:  I write a list of these words at the front of my dictionary, making them easy and quick to find.  Otherwise, I found that while writing, I stopped using some words I really liked, and replaced them with words I could spell.  However, these replacement words often fell short in conveying the meaning I was striving for, or lacked the punch to really emphasize the scenario to the reader.

When You’re Not a Native Speaker

I know that for some of you, reading this post, English is not your mother-tongue.   I applaud anyone who has the confidence to write in another language.   It is a daunting task and knowing that native English speakers are going to be reading your work, it can be off-putting.   Well- I say keep going…  don’t be put off!   If you are worried about making mistakes – then enlist the help of a native English speaker to read it through for you and correct any obvious errors.  Be open to learning as you write, and welcome any feedback that helps develop your writing skills.

But hey – don’t stress about it too much – many native English speakers don’t even have a great grasp of their own grammar.   As a foreigner, learning English, you often learn the grammar point more in depth than we do.   When I think back to my English Language lessons at school, they certainly did not prepare me in grasping the finer mechanics of my own language.  For example, when I was learning French while living in Paris, my French teacher had to constantly explain the English grammar point before she could teach it to me in French.  She confessed I was not alone, and certainly for her, it was a common issue with many of her native English speakers.

Grammar

Simple punctuation and basic grammar is key.  After all, you wish to construct a sentence that begins with a capital letter and ends with a full-stop.   If you struggle with the basic grammar points, then use some tools to help you.   One great tool is grammarly (www.grammarly.com) – use it to check your grammar and spelling as you write.   Another option is the spelling and grammar checker available in many word-processing software packages.   However, I will say that I have encountered glaring spelling and grammar errors when using Microsoft Word.

If you wish to have a grammar reference book on hand – I recommend the following:

  • Word Perfect – A dictionary of current English usage – by John O. E. Clark     Published by Harrap’s Reference
  • My Grammar and I (or should that be “Me”?) – by Caroline Taggart and J. A. Wines   Published by Mom Books
  • Essentials of English – by Hopper, Gale, Foote and Griffin     Published by Barron’s
  • Eats, Shoots and Leaves – by Lynne Truss    Published by Profile Books

Also, a ‘must-have’ for all writers, is a good DICTIONARY and THESAURUS.   I use the Collins “Dictionary and Thesaurus in One Volume“.   I love using the THESAURUS to find alternative words, thus ensuring my writing is more varied and interesting.   Although, avoid using ‘BIG’ words just for the sake of it – it is pretentious and annoying for many readers.

As a Writer – Just Write

The key thing is as a Writer is to WRITE.   Write every day to hone your skills, and don’t be afraid to use the WORDS you want to use.   If you struggle spelling certain words, make a list of them and keep it somewhere you can readily access, so they are easy to find when you need them.

Remember, the focus is on the story you are telling.  Sure, there will always be someone who picks up a spelling or grammar error – but for most readers this is not a major stumbling block (as long as they are only here and there…).

YOU ARE A WRITER – so make peace with English spelling and grammar, and JUST WRITE!

 

PS.  I am not perfect, and please feel free to point out any spelling or grammar errors – I am always open to learning and improving too!

 

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