Being a stickler for grammar is not easy. Sure, you may have been that way for as long as you can remember, but I am sure that if you think about it, you will realize that it did take some work to get where you are right now. You started at some point. You learned – formal or not – one way or another. Good grammar may not cost you a thing in terms of money, but you do have to make a little bit of effort – at the very least – to ensure that you stay on top of your game.
As a writer, you have more opportunities to hone your grammar. However, you cannot overlook the possibility of becoming lax. You also have to deal with the fact that language is an ever evolving entity and that we have the responsibility to keep up with the changes. If we want to continue to be effective writers, then making sure that our grammar skills remain sharp should also be part of our list of things to do.
Here are some practical tips that can help you in this regard.
As Dr. Seuss wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” While he probably was referring to knowing and learning about things other than grammar, we can easily use this concept as well.
I think reading can help improve grammar in two ways. One, it serves as a way to discover/remember rules and changes in usage. Of course, the key here is that you read good writers so that you can learn from them. Additionally, by reading the works of good writers, you can learn from their writing style and get inspiration as well! Two, reading helps in developing a critical eye. I do not mean that negatively, but instead, I mean that you can learn from the mistakes of others.
Stay faithful in the little things.
This may seem easy enough, but stop and think for a moment. With text messaging and chatting online, how often are you tempted to ease up on writing complete and grammatically perfect sentences? I will be totally honest and say that I do give myself a lot of leeway when composing text messages and instant messages. I have no excuses, but the more I think about it, the easier it is to go down the slippery slope of bad grammar if we are not faithful in the little things that we do on a regular basis. Am I being too strict?
Ask for feedback.
Feedback is a good thing. It really is! It may be difficult to receive feedback, especially if it is negative, but it is imperative that we open ourselves to constructive feedback. The need for feedback is not the sole domain of writers. It applies to practically any profession in existence, but let me just emphasize how important it is for us to welcome feedback when it comes to our grammar and writing style. More than merely welcoming feedback if it comes our way, I think we should also make it a point to ask trusted individuals to give constructive criticism now and then.
Do you have other tips you want to share?
Image via Glarkware
When we homeschooled we only read the works that were in the public domain – pre 1923. By reading good writing we eliminated the need to learn to diagram and the other boring activities associated with learning grammar as a subject. As a result, my daughter is a freelance writer and works from home!