First, I applaud those of you who noticed the two errors in my title (they were intentional).
*Disclaimer for the remainder of this blog: I am not perfect nor claiming to be perfect. Since I’m condemning grammar and spelling errors, it is highly likely I will have at least a handful of them somewhere within this text!*
For whatever reason, I was created to be meticulous about writing and its rules. I am a freak who loves (yes loves) all that is grammar and spelling related.
It’s ironic I’m so passionate about editing, because as a little girl (while I was home schooled) I would literally CRY if my mom handed me back a paper with any red ink on it! Red ink in those days was the enemy. Today, I’ve befriended the red pen. I even hold it myself.
During college, I learned that red ink on my writings didn’t necessarily signify full-blown failure; rather it was a chance to improve myself and my writing. While heavy markups imply some inadequacy, a lack of thoroughness, intelligence or what have you, they are also passageways that enable you to become a stronger writer. They also, of course, mean more work lies ahead. Improvement in any context, though, is not possible without hard work.
Looking at my eighth grade year book recently, I saw a friend had written, “You will always be the best writer in LA!” I thought it was cool my passion for writing has stuck with me for so long. Since the lunch-box days, I’ve been the go-to person for editing anything and everything. This unofficial role as “the editor” of my classes has definitely carried through to college. I constantly have friends calling me with grammar questions, e-mailing me their research papers, newspaper articles, press releases etc., asking for my input and advice. Although it is somewhat flattering, I do it for only two reasons:
1. I love, love, love doing it! Taking something mediocre and flawed then transforming it into something brilliant and pristine is a very rewarding feeling. I think my OCD, organized, “neat freak” and control tendencies are complemented and even relieved by the act of editing.
2. I become a better writer when I edit! Editing for others (and myself) only strengthens my writing abilities.
To finish this blog, I’ll quickly list a few personal pet peeves I have (in regards to writing errors) and how I think of them or remember how to try to not make them:
- Subject/Verb agreement: I find myself doing this all of the time! It’s very simple: if you have a singular subject, you should complement it with a singular verb. Likewise, plural subjects go with plural verbs. A good example is earlier on in my blog I at first wrote… “While heavy markups imply…it is also a passageway.” See the problem? I’d either need to make “markups” singular (a markup) or alter my verb combo to be plural (they are also passageways). Looking back, you can see I chose the latter. Lengthy and intricately structured sentences make it easy to lack in tense consistency. I usually only catch this by rereading.
- Apostrophes in dates and time periods: This is a rule I broke until I was made aware of it in college. When mentioning dates or time periods, an apostrophe is not always necessary. Writing “In the 1920s” is correct. Yes, even without the apostrophe you normally see (1920’s). If it was there, what would its purpose be? What would it be standing for? Also, writing “The 80’s had great music” is incorrect. The correct way to write that would be “The ’80s had great music” because the apostrophe before “80” is standing for “19”. The apostrophe following the 0 would indicate possession, when “had” already demonstrates that.
- Commas: Odds are you either use too many or too few. READING ALOUD can help you decipher the natural flow of your writing and tell you where you may need another comma or two, or where you may need to eliminate some. Although commas are partially dependent on stylistic preferences, they are also mandatory in some sentence structure rules (such as placing a comma after an introductory clause or element).