Don’t Be Afraid To Write If You Don’t Write Right

Just write.

Today’s post is courtesy of Michael Schechter.


I have the grammatical skills of the average chimpanzee. No, that’s not fair, I’m insulting chimps. It’s not something that comes naturally and when it comes to my writing, it’s not my highest priority. Regardless of this deficiency, I write. I write to become a slightly better chimp. I write because I have something I want to say. I write because I want to find my voice and by using it, I seek to make it stronger.

While I write to improve, it is not the driving force. I want my words to be readable and my thoughts to be clear, but I try not to let perfection get in the way of publishing. Learning to properly punctuate, avoiding an excess of adjectives, spelling things correctly are all important, but they’re far from my top priority. Getting words out of my head and onto someone else’s screen is. It’s not ideal, but often times, the desire to get a response trumps the need to be “perfect” or “proper”.

It’s a great thing to push writers to strive to improve, but it’s pompous to ignore them when they don’t meet some standard. If a writer is stubborn or closed off to feedback that’s one thing, but if they’re still learning, still striving and open to improve, then willingness to take risks is essential. It’s always possible to learn the finer points of grammar; it’s far more challenging to express an idea, find your voice or share a thought. Grammar is meant to serve these desires, not stifle them.

If you don’t like what someone has to say, that’s one thing. If you’re obsessing about how they are saying it, chances are you’re missing the bigger picture. The grammar obsessed often miss out on a great idea poorly expressed and overlook the very people they can help or, better yet, encourage. Perhaps I’m alone, especially on a site called Write Right, but I’ll take an interesting mess over pristine boredom any day of the week.

I’m not suggesting that you should publish crap. Read your work, reread it and read it again. Care enough to create something of quality. Care enough to learn and improve as you continue. Just don’t let the fear of imperfection keep you from caring enough to publish. If you lack the skill yourself, ask an editor for help while you develop. If you can’t afford or find an editor, publish and encourage your readers to show you where you’re wrong (there are more than a few people on the internet who are more than happy to oblige here). Look to improve, but don’t let the unrealistic expectations of others keep you from improving in public.

When it comes to my own writing, I always have my wife go over my work (actually, she insists…). She has more grammatical sense and skill than I could ever acquire (oh yeah, that’s my other writing tip, marry an 8th grade English teacher). She is teaching me to be a slightly better primate when it comes to the rights and wrongs of writing. Although for this post, I’ve abandoned her aid entirely. I’ve read, reread and read it again, but what you see here is entirely my own editing. I’m sure it falls short in several places, many of them grammatical, but hopefully the idea, the voice and the willingness to share are enough that you will overlook its imperfections. And if not, I’ll just try to do better next time.


Michael Schechter is a Mac geek who rambles about how technology impacts our productivity, our creativity, and our lives. You can follow him at his blog, listen to him weekly on the Mikes on Mics podcast, or connect with him on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Thanks again, @MSchechter , for writing the post and for letting me share it on Write Right. My favorite line is the one about perfection and publishing. Gee, I wonder why?
     
    …and I know my response isn’t going to start a flame war. We need to pull rank on someone and get them to leave an inciting comment.

  2. What offends me most about this post is that I couldn’t find any grammatical errors. It seems to me that YOU’RE an imperfection poser. If you really wanted to make your point, there would be more flaws here… You should be ashamed about your lack of messiness!(p.s. Nice post!)
    (p.p.s. I like that this post has been tagged with “chimpanzee”.) 

  3. What offends me most about this post is that I couldn’t find any grammatical errors. It seems to me that YOU’RE an imperfection poser. If you really wanted to make your point, there would be more flaws here… You should be ashamed about your lack of messiness!
     
    (p.s. Nice post!)
     
    (p.p.s. I like that this post has been tagged with “chimpanzee”.) 

    •  @yuvizalkow Hahaha! I’d forgotten I’d tagged the post with “chimpanzee.” Now I wish I’d found a photo of a chimp for the post.
       
      Michael will have to share this post with his wife. She didn’t see it before he sent it to me. 🙂

      • MSchechter says:

         @Erin F.  @yuvizalkow NO WAY. She’ll yell at me and find plenty of things I did wrong.

    • MSchechter says:

       @yuvizalkow I disgust me… and could not possibly agree more about the tag.

      •  @MSchechter  @yuvizalkow I probably should have used “chimp grammar” as the tag. Hindsight’s 20/20 I suppose…

      •  @MSchechter  @yuvizalkow I have no idea why I included that tag, either. I’m sure I had a great reason when I used it. This is what happens when you schedule posts almost two weeks in advance.

  4. I just read this somewhere else a few days back. on another blog I swear. Or was this taken from the Steve Jobs autobiography? I mean the author owns an IPad and can recite word for word that book.

    •  @HowieSPM We’ve been waiting for a contentious remark all day! 😀 I think that one nails it. 
       
      I didn’t know that about Michael. Of course, I haven’t read the autobiography, so you could say you were reciting it, and I wouldn’t know the difference.

      •  @Erin F. Michael is the original Apple Fan Boy. Macs could be made from the beating hearts of kittens and he would shrug and say he loves them. But then he hates kittens even more than he hates penguins.
         
        But man can @MSchechter write. He is a phenom. His flowing prose and alliteration are a testament to the books he has read. harry potter. uhm.that is why he mentions hogwarts a lot.

        •  @HowieSPM  @MSchechter Michael’s in good company. Sarah and Sheldon at Waxing UnLyrical are Apple fans. I don’t think anybody’s noticed their laptops or phones, though, so it’s an inside joke with myself.

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