As an author and a book lover that loves reading to improve myself, I know that writing has never been more diverse than it is today. We have academic, technical, commercial, creative writing with different requirements – it’s hard to keep track of them all. Luckily, there is something they all have in common – and these are basic grammar and style mistakes.
Josh Carlyle, an experienced writer at Writings Guru, was kind enough to share his thoughts with us on how to avoid frustrating writing mistakes. Josh normally writes on different topics relating to educational innovations, college life and new technologies in teaching. He has been sharing his knowledge with communities and blogs for more than four years.
I hope you enjoy reading all that Josh has to say about avoiding frustrating writing mistakes!
The best writing knows how to disregard the rules
Only if a writer knows what rules to disregards – and what’s the easiest way to learn if not from mistakes? To learn to write well, it’s crucial to know where possible roadblocks could be.
Luckily, recently Oxford Royale Academy published an article which summarizes the most common writing problems – why don’t we take a quick look and learn?
The most popular writing mistakes
Misplaced apostrophes after s – We know how to write ‘mother’s song’ but what about ‘mothers’ song’? Actually, the latter is correct – no additional letter ‘s’ is required.
Confusing homonyms – words that sound the same but are written in a different way. The most common mistakes: confusing your and you’re, there and their, it’s and its.
Run-on sentences – Styling mistakes are less apparent and can be detected only after thorough proofreading. A run-on sentence, a phrase that has two and more independent clauses, is especially tricky.
An example: I work so much these days that I don’t see my friends anymore, they are forgetting me, thinking that I don’t care anymore.
The corrected version: I work so much these days that I don’t see my friends anymore. They are forgetting me, thinking that I don’t care anymore.
Confusing who and whom – The who-and-whom rule is often considered one of the most complicated in English grammar although it doesn’t really deserve such a reputation. Really, the rules are straightforward:
- if you answer the question with the pronouns he, she, it – pick ‘who
- if you answer the question with the pronouns him, her – choose whom’
The wrong way: Whom is guilty of this? Who did you invite to the event?
The right way: Who is guilty of this? – He is. Whom did you invite to the event? – Him and her.
Pronoun disagreements break the sentence’s logic – When you use the pronouns, make sure it’s clear what the pronoun refers to.
The wrong way: I went to the party with my cousin and best friend and noticed that he never drinks. Judging from the word order, a reader can deduce that the word ‘he’ refers to ‘best friend’. Still, it’s not clear from the sentence.
The right way: I went to the party with my cousin Nate and best friend Mark and noticed that Mark never drinks.
4 steps to avoid these frustrating writing mistakes
When you go through these lists of mistakes, they all seem apparent – well, you know the feeling. The moment you actually start writing, all this knowledge magically disappears. How to keep your grammar, style, and punctuation correct, never mind the differences in styles and genres?
Step #1 – Know your weak points
Someone caught you on a mistake? Found errors during proofreading? Don’t simply shake it off – write the mistake down to remember most common mistakes. You can use digital tools – like Grammarly or write it down in your notebook or save on the phone. The last option is even better – by writing down your problems you remember what caused them. It’s a proactive learning – you’ll see results in a week.
Step #2 – Use help
Writers feed off experiences and inspirations. It’s true not only for novelists or screenwriters but for any type of writing at all – even business emails. The problem is, when you write every day, the inner resources get exhausted.
That’s when it’s time to talk to other writers – and these are just some of the routes for you to take.
Reddit writing threads. Seriously, if you want to procrastinate, better do it there. Take a look at the ideas of writing prompts, see what others struggle with, how they profit from writing and proofread each other’s work. You can even have a text swap with other members.
Go to Handmade Writing as a service where you can polish your writing. There you can cooperate with writers, editors, correctors.
Step #3 – Change styles and words
It’s easy to stick to the same phrases and use those old, tried, and proven expressions. This safe strategy, however, gets boring – and you don’t want to be bored when writing. You feel unenthusiastic about your work and that’s when the mistakes appear. Writing is, in a way, a relationship – you have to keep it fresh over time.
Donna Moores, who works at Write my essay, shares her experience of keeping the excitement alive, “I write my entire life – for a living, for fun, for communication. It’s easy to burn-out, and that’s also when I start making the most ridiculous mistakes like confusing their and there. Over time, I understood that the best way to avoid this frustrating boredom is changing topics and styles. If I was doing university essays the entire month, I know it’s time to switch to creative writing”.
Quick tips: look for new expressions (synonyms), work in different genres, and write for fun. If you are stuck with an essay, put it away and write a short fan fiction on your favourite TV show.
Step #4 – Do three-stage proofreading
You don’t have to do three proofreads, just break one into a couple of stages. The best thing is, it will actually make things faster.
Stage 1: Check the structure and the content. Read the text, focusing on what you’ve written rather than how you did it.
Stage 2: Scan the text for your most common mistakes. Look for them specifically.
Stage 3: Read the entire text again, this time focusing on small grammar mistakes and styling inaccuracies. After going through each phrase, stop and ask yourself – is the content delivered clearly?
Avoiding writing mistakes is easy
Just know what to stay away from. It’s all about creating a routine that works for you and hopefully, incorporates the steps, described above. Most important, remember that improvement takes time – writing is all about practice.
There you have it, Josh Carlyle’s guest post on “How to Avoid Frustrating Writing Mistakes in 4 Steps”
What do you think of the article? Do you have any other step that you feel can or should be added to the article? Please leave a comment below.