Grammar is a piano I play by ear ~ Joan Didion
Do you know what JK Rowling, Jeffrey Archer, Jodi Picoult, Joanne Harris have in common? (besides having J as the first letter in their name?)
They are my favourite authors. Plus, they have a perfect command over grammar. And spelling.
Yes, I am nervously beating around the bush. Time to get to the point. Time to call a spade a spade.
*deep breath* *exhale*
There are too many people with very bad English grammar skills, who write and publish content.
The funny thing is, these people don’t even realise it. And even if they do, they lack the inclination / ability to do something about it.
Being a native English speaker, I have taken grammar for granted. I just assume that whatever I write is perfect. But there have been times where I have had to improve on my grammar skills.
And I would like to use my experience to help you out.
It’s pretty easy. You don’t have to sit with a pencil and weed out typos, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. You have access to apps. And Spellchecks.
And three easy tips by me.
Get ready to bid goodbye to your grammar and spelling problems, and say hello to the new you.
1. Accept that you have a problem: The thing is, most of us are so used to making certain grammatical mistakes that we don’t even realise we do it. Or worse, we may not even know we are making a mistake. Example: I have a bad habit of writing really long sentences with too many clauses. I can’t write short sentences, because I feel that I’m not providing enough information when I don’t write a long sentence. (See what I did here? This sentence has TWO subordinators. ) And because of this problem, my posts get a bit difficult to read (and I used to get ‘less than expected’ marks in English papers, much to the chagrin of my friends who knew I was a blogger. But that’s fodder for a different post).
So, find out your weaknesses in the grammar field. How? Simple. Use the Hemingway app online. It’s a foolproof way of seeing the exact areas where you have made mistakes. Plus, you can learn from your mistakes on your own! Subscribe to grammar blogs, and get Word Of The Day notifications on your dictionary app. Also, check out this Grammarly Handbook over at the official Grammarly website!
2. Practice writing daily: Even if you are a blogger who posts once a week/month/quarter/only on your birthday, you need to write daily. You don’t need to post everything you write.
Maintain a separate notebook for this exercise. Don’t use the one which you use for blogging. Write 250-500 words a day. After writing daily, use the above-mentioned Hemingway app to review your work for the day. Don’t feel discouraged if you get a lot of mistakes at the first go. Instead, make a record of it. Note down your daily progress on the notebook, and see the gradual improvements in your writing.
3. Read like Dr. Reid: For those of you mortals who don’t know who Dr. Spencer Reid is, please go Wikipedia him out. He has an eidetic memory, and can read 20000 words per minute. *gulp* Did I mention he’s a fictional character?
In the show Criminal Minds, Dr. Reid reads a lot of books. (I can’t get enough of this pun). He keeps on reading a lot of books, despite having an IQ of 187. Plus, he actually remembers everything he reads. (I wish all my followers were like Dr. Reid.)
Inspired much? Here’s a simple goal to start with: Start reading one book per week. The average reading speed is 200-250 words per minute, or 12000-15000 words per hour. An average novel has 60000 words, so you can theoretically complete a book in 4-5 hours of dedicated reading.
So your weekly plan to improve grammar should be something like this: read for an hour a day, five days a week, take the remaining two days to converse with someone fluent in English / watch an English TV show, and practice daily writing. Or, check out your reading speed using free tests available online. Do the math like I did. Plan your weekly schedule accordingly.
Also, don’t read for the sake of enjoying the plot. Not if you want to improve your grammar. While reading a book, make sure you concentrate on:
A. Learning the meaning of new words. Use an online dictionary / dictionary app. Focus on the ‘usage in a sentence’ part. Also, if you’re feeling a bit more energetic, look up synonyms for the difficult words. Think about why the author decided to use that particular word, and not one of its synonyms.
B. Identify the tense used. It should be consistent throughout the book (except during flashbacks). Also, identify whether the book is in first person/third person narrative. Keep tabs on whether this is consistent too.
C. Look at the structure of the sentences. Are the sentences small and easy to read? Also, learn how different punctuation marks are used, and how they can dramatically change the meaning of a sentence when used correctly. (Ugh, I can’t stop writing long sentences)
While selecting books to read, make sure not to pick up classics first. Select books from the genre that you like, and look for books which other (trusted) readers recommend to you. If you like reading one book by a particular author, read other books by that same author.
Wassup, happy readers! This post is written for the #AtoZChallenge, and this is the third year I’m participating in this challenge. Do keep cheering me on all through this month, as I’m hell-bent on scoring a hat-trick in 2017, at the age of 18! My theme for this year is : The Encyclopedia of Blogging Memories, Feelings and Lessons.
Thank you Shailaja for suggesting this awesome topic for today’s post. Major shout-out to you! ❤
Here’s a special question for you to answer today: Are you a Grammar Nazi? If you are, do share some of your pet peeves when it comes to reading content on blogs/anywhere else. If not, don’t feel shy to share your views!
P.S.: I wrote and rewrote this post a lot yesterday, in a bid to avoid any grammatical/spelling mistakes. If you still happen to spot one, let me know! 🙂