Why “bad grammar” shouldn’t stop you from writing


“Bad Grammar” is a poor excuse for not writing.

“I just don’t have good grammar.”

“I’m bad at spelling.”

“My mom might read it.”

The above three lines are the dustiest excuses I’ve heard for why good storytellers don’t write – except maybe the third one. But good grammar isn’t part of the writing process. It’s part of the editing process.

The first stage of the writing process should focus on just getting your ideas out on paper, whatever that might look like. If you’re worried about getting the ball rolling, check out different ways to brainstorm. The bottom line right now is this: the final product doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t even be on your radar. Get the image of a finished, printed, Times New Roman, 12-point font, dust-your-hands-off-and-call-it-a-day manuscript out of your head.

Stop pressuring yourself to write perfectly.

Find a good seat, a sturdy table, and a trusty pen (not a pencil). Let your start be sloppy, messy, misspelled, and misguided. You can always change it later. The important thing is to have your ideas out in front of you. Then you can cross them out, rearrange them, reword, remix, rewrite, and return again tomorrow to make even more changes. You may redraft an idea six or eight times before even taking it to the keyboard. And you should expect your first typed draft to be a total mess too. That’s okay. Good writers aren’t good because they have good grammar. They’re good because they’re not afraid to get ugly.

The nice thing about grammar is that other people can help you. No one but you, and maybe a skilled therapist, can help you get the thoughts out of your head. That’s the hard part. Once you have a working draft, you can start asking for feedback. You can start with friends and family if you’re scared at first. For some people, it’s easier to share writing with complete strangers at writing workshops or writer’s circles.

Once you’re ready to put some writing out into the world, via blog, website, newspaper article, novel, you name it, you can consult an editor. Depending on the type of writing you’re doing, you may have to search for the right editor. Editors can take care of the grammarly minutiae that don’t often concern the general public, but they’ll also go over things like the structure, flow, and voice of a piece.

In the end, grammar should only be about 10% or less of the grunt work. The heavy lifting comes from your thoughts and ideas and organizing them in a way people can connect with.

By tvoutiritsas

I’m a writer. I live for fresh, creative, relevant, human-centric content. I currently work at Andrews McMeel Universal, where I write content for digital products. I’m also a co-creator of The Semi-prose project, an incubator and archive of creative writing. On the side, I review manuscripts for authors and screenwriters, and I run a personal blog for my own sanity. In a past life, I worked as a writing consultant and an editorial assistant at New Letters Magazine and The American Educational History Journal. I graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a B.A. in English Language and Rhetoric, and a minor in Manuscript, Print Culture, and Editing. I know that’s a mouthful. In short, I’m an unapologetic word nerd.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s