I was reading a blog a couple of days ago about effective ways to create a better morning routine. The article mostly contained common sense advice, but then I came across this passage and the article lost some of it’s authority:
I’m astounded by the number of people who have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, before they’ve even had a tall glass of water. Hydrate, people! Your body is dehydrated after 8 hours of sleep, so please give it the nourishment that it needs. If you want to get fancy, you can alternate each morning between lemon water (room temperature water with a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice stirred into it) or apple cider vinegar water (just rinse your teeth afterward so that the acids don’t harm your tooth enamel).
If your listening to carefully to how your body feels after consuming that first tall glass of water right after waking, you’ll likely notice a positive improvement. This is a terrific way to prime your body for an enjoyable and productive day ahead.
The problem is even if you put the science of hydration aside, the glaring grammatical errors on that short section distracted me away from the content and quality of the writing diminishing the value of the blogger’s words. If writers want to present themselves as professionals who write up to the gold standard of writing – that is writing that is free of spelling, punctuation, usage and grammar (SPUG) errors – then it is essential that they edit, edit, edit.
Being a writer is about expressing meaning, sharing ideas and writing in a way that allows the narrative to be conveyed without the writer’s hand being seen. SPUG errors distract from the writer’s narrative whether that is on an online chat room board, a blog or within their novels, short stories and poetry. Of course there will always be some human error, but the modern writer not only has to perfect the art and craft of writing they have to market themselves to publishers and the reading public as a professional writer. Blogs form part of the personal persona that is crucial for writers marketing themselves to be self published and/or traditionally published. Publishing companies want to establish that a writer has developed a suitable size following online to help secure sale figures. If you self publish then it is essential to make sure you have a positive public persona, otherwise how else will you be noticed among the plethora of other new and established writers? If you do not edit your blogs and get your writing professionally edited by a third party before you publish you will diminish the value of your work and send grammar Nazi’s across the world into a frenzy looking for the red pen to correct your work. On a more serious note, if you want people to read your writing, provide positive reviews and offer word of mouth recommendation of your work to other potential readers then worm out those SPUG errors before you hit send.
Being a grammar Nazi is perhaps a valuable quality in a writer, but it can ruin some otherwise pleasant reading. Did your eye turn to the mistakes in the quoted paragraph and make you cringe? Is it perhaps easier to see errors in others’ writing because with our own writing we know full well what it is that we are trying to say and therefore become blind to glaring mistakes in our work? I know when I look back at my own writing it is only after a significant break that I can begin to see the errors in what I have written. I find that errors in my work are often a gap between what I meant and what I typed, a momentary short circuit between the message from my brain to my hand. Of course I will never catch all the errors in my writing, but I am aware that grammar is not my strongest point and that I need to focus on it. Before any of my novels are made available to the public I will certainly ensure that they are professionally edited. How embarrassing would it be to complain about spelling, grammar, usage and punctuation errors only for reviews of my work to be criticised for them.
I have my red ‘correcting’ pen at the ready.