As a writer, I have a few grammar quirks that plague my writing. When I read the works of others, I often find they have quirks of their own. Everyone is a little different and makes his or her own mistakes. Learn to recognize the errors in your own writing, and you will improve by recognizing the mistakes while they’re happening so you can fix them before submitting your work.
I have several grammar quirks. One is I tend to overuse the word “that,” sticking it in at every opportunity. Although it ups my word count, it can be annoying and repetitive to read. Even as I wrote this article, I backed up and deleted several unnecessary ones! I also struggle with using passive voice. However, through the help of Michelle L. Devon, professional author and editor, I am learning what those quirks are and how to fix them. As a result, my writing is becoming stronger.
Do Professionals Make Mistakes, Too?
I was curious as to whether a seasoned author, who’s been writing and editing professional for over 13 years, has grammar quirks of her own. I asked Michelle what kinds of grammar quirks she struggles with. She replied:
“Honestly, most of the major grammar quirks I’ve learned to overcome by practice and reading and learning everything I could, but even then, when I’m in the middle of a flow, I catch myself using the wrong words or misusing a commonly used word. That’s not that big of a deal, since everything I put out is edited first. Even then, even I make mistakes and things get missed. It happens to the best of us and is just part of being a writer.
“My biggest issue with my writing, while not technically grammar related, is that I need to slow down and let it sit before I submit or send it to someone else to read. Another problem I have is verbosity; I tend to use too many words to make my point, so I am having to work on being more concise without losing any emotion/meaning.”
How do you use this to improve your writing?
If someone is editing your work, which is always a good idea, look to see what mistakes they find most often. Then, examine why you are making those mistakes. In a lot of cases, it will be because you don’t understand the grammar rule. Spend some time getting clarification, and once you have a good handle on the rule, you’ll recognize it when you make the same mistake again, and fix it. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you won’t make the mistake in the first place.
If you do not have the luxury of a well-trained editor going through your work with a fine-toothed comb, you can still find your quirks on your own. However, it will be more difficult. Microsoft Word, while not reliable 100% of the time, often flags grammatical errors. Take a look at those green squiggly lines and see what suggestions Word has.
By investing some time in learning from your mistakes, you will find that your writing skills will grow in leaps and bounds. Take a look at the document you’re working on right now and see what mistakes you can find.