Want to write well? Then, don’t fix your grammar. I don’t mean don’t ever fix your grammar. I mean that you shouldn’t fix your grammar too early in the writing process.
I thought about this when reading How to Write and Present Technical Information by Charles H. Sides. He says,
Often writers get overly concerned about the nit-picking details of grammar and punctuation in a document before they have got it written clearly.
Sides say this means we writers “will not change what we should, and the read will suffer for it.” In other words, the writer won’t fix big-picture errors of logic and organization.
I’m a big believer in starting the writing process by organizing your thoughts. That should be your top priority in the beginning. In the early stages, grammar is a distraction.
Here’s the process that I suggest:
- Organize your thoughts before you write.
- Write your first draft.
- Do “big picture” editing to fix the article’s organization and flow.
- Do line editing. This is the stage when you fix grammar and other writing style issues.
Of course, it’s easier said than done to leave grammar tweaks to the end. One way I prevent myself from tinkering too soon is by writing the first drafts of some blog posts by hand, as discussed in “No batteries required: My favorite blogging technique.”
If you like more help developing your writing process, read my book Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients, or take my on-demand financial blogging class.
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