Whether you’re a freelance writer, have a blog or you’re employed as a writer within a business, the basics of good writing are essential to your work. It doesn’t matter whether your tone of voice is friendly, professional, humorous or corporate: if you have a grammar or spelling error in your work, you’ll quickly discover that your writing makes you look lazy. If you’re passionate about writing, you can’t risk making that impression – after all, a reputation takes a long time to build up, but one spelling mistake to break it down!
If you’re prone to grammar and spelling errors, fortunately, there are a few things you can do to get back on your writing A-game and showcase the best of your skillset. It’s worth looking at this Grammarly post on spelling to familiarise yourself with common spelling errors to get you started. But how do you improve your grammar and spelling long-term?
It’s well-documented that reading helps your writing, whether that’s fiction – as ProofreadNOW suggests – or any other piece of writing on and offline. The more you read, the more familiar you’ll be with words you regularly make mistakes on, and likewise with grammar. It’s not just grammar and spelling that reading will help, either: if you write a blog, for example, then you’ll need to know how to structure your work. A good benchmark for readability is by using the Flesch-Kincaid scale, which will give a percentage estimate of how easy your writing is for others to understand.
…your own work
When it comes to how to improve your grammar and spelling skills, there’s no question that reading your own writing aloud makes all the difference to your work. Reading your own work will help you identify which sentences, if any, don’t quite flow, helping you rewrite sections that you may not have considered problematic. Of course, grammar and spelling are only two things of many that reading aloud will help.
Have the right attitude
When it comes to grammar and spelling, tensions can arise. The age-old war on the Oxford comma is far from over: it doesn’t really matter if you’re an English writer, but for American writers, it’s more of a rule. Whatever your stance, be open to criticism when you’re writing. This can be especially hard to do if your writing is, for example, a personal blog, but learn to not take feedback personally: after all, constructive criticism can be like gold dust for improving your writing.
Remember, also, that learning how to improve your grammar and spelling skills is a slow process. You’re unlikely to know everything the first time you write publicly, creatively or for anything you choose, and even if you’re confident about your grammar and spelling knowledge, there’s no harm in being open-minded about ways that, over time, you can improve. Why not try some simple writing prompts to get the ink flowing and practice happening?
Edit, edit and edit again
Editing sounds intimidating to new writers and can be painstaking for old hats. Nonetheless, it’s extremely important that you get into the habit of proofreading and editing your work to ensure that you iron out any mistakes, whatever you’re writing. Here are a few tips to get you into the editing mindset:
Go back over your intentions/the brief
When you started writing, you will have had an aim in mind. If you had a brief, even better: go over this brief again and cross-check that you hit all the points you were either required to include or wanted to include yourself. While this isn’t specific to helping improve your grammar and spelling skills, you’ll familiarise yourself with what you needed to cover, so it provides an easy in-road to editing your work that you’ll need to check the finer details.
Ask someone else to read your work
You might be wondering how this step will improve your grammar and spelling skills, but trust us, it’s necessary. If you’ve just written something, it’s likely that you’ll be blind to seeing where glaring errors are. By getting a fresh pair of eyes on your writing, they will be able to point out spelling errors that you could easily glance over – a classic being “they’re/their/there”. Who knows: maybe you could do the same for them and their writing and form a small support team to help further your writing endeavours?
Cut your content down
Chances are that you’ll have a lot of superfluous words in your written content. Where you can, replace these words with punctuation, which will help your sentences flow better. Once you’ve removed the excess, the aim of your writing will overall be clearer and you can ensure that grammar and spelling mistakes are quicker to spot. Over time, this will help your writing skills improve across the board. If you need any further tips on this, Yvonne Reilly has put together a post detailing how to improve your editing skills.
There are a couple of other minor things you can do once you feel confident with the above tips for improving your grammar and spelling. Firstly, we’d recommend installing Grammarly to firmly iron out any errors that you just haven’t picked up on, or even more usefully, make you alert to errors specific to your writing. You can also refer to our grammar checklist to see if you’re making any common mistakes.
Finally, if you’re a content or blog writer, then monetising your craft by joining sites such as Copify can help you improve your grammar and spelling skills. If nothing else, simply knowing that your work will be used for businesses means you’ll have an extra motivational push to hone your skills and become the best writer you can.
Do you have any tips on how to improve your spelling skills or grammar expertise? Comment below. And remember, the real trick to good quality writing is to keep at it!