Monday, March 25, 2013

Grammar Corner: Forget Grammar

That's what the editor is for! Not to mention the second draft.

Now this grammar suggestion, this one is quite controversial in the writing world, and has been a point of contention between authors and the different schools of writing. However, as far as I am concerned this is one of the most important rules. Allow me to explain.

Grammar is a necessary and innate part of our culture as a writer. This we know. The key word in that phrase is innate. If we want to call ourselves writers, something we are already quite familiar with is the English language (or any language in which you are writing in), and how to use it. We have a lot of practice in the realm of grammar just out of practice alone. We know simple sentences have a noun, verb, and predicate, and end in periods, questions end in question marks, and exclamation marks can be an eyesore when there are too many in unison. We get this and our hands and brain know how to deal with it naturally.

So what do I mean when I say forget grammar?


I mean literally, forget it. Not in the sense where you completely disregard it, or go out of your way to make every sentence you write a grammatical fallacy. No, nothing like that. What I mean is simple. Do not let grammar dictate your writing. Do not spend hours and hours letting the sentence structure of one section of your prose keep you stuck for hours because it's just not right. We're all guilty of this, I know I am. When a sentence doesn't flow right, we fixate. Every writer is a little bit OCD in my opinion, and like any OCD it starts to interfere not only with the writing, but the life of the writer.

So forget it.

Now this is easier said than done of course, as is anything with writing. Because we've been trained, no conditioned from a very young age to be very attentive to grammar and grammatical fallacies. We've been taught to worship the academic essay and the 9 sentence structure.

Stop! Right now! Just throw that all out of your mind, because if you're here, you are writing for pleasure, you are writing because it's something you enjoy, because you're embracing something deeper than the academic essay. Any manual can teach you how to write a good research paper, but no manual in the world can tell you how to properly break all the rules and become a New York Times Bestseller.

One of the greatest things about being a writer is the freedom we are given. When we let go of the mental constraints that grammar puts on us, the need to make sure we always use the right word at the right time, the right, right or write, then or than, or even where we put a comma in a sentence. Constantly watching for little mistakes that are easy to spot and edit later, we are inhibiting our natural writing process, and inhibiting our ability to write all together.

And sentence structure, that's another matter all together. We are given all these rules that tell us how to write a sentence, but those rules often lead to dry and frankly boring commentary that wouldn't be fit in a 'How-To' manual. So forget about those rules. Writing is an art form, and one of the greatest achievements an artist can make evolving the art. Many authors have adopted a lyrical or poetic approach to their writing, replacing periods for commas, or quotations with never underestimating the intelligence of the reader. Play with your writing, build on your writing, and worry about grammar later.

Those little mistakes that everyone nags and nitpicks about, those can be edited in the future. But losing your story because you're not able to focus because all the rules are holding you down, that can sometimes be devastating. So just write, and enjoy what you're writing. Grammar, sentence structure, rules; all of those can wait until later.

Note: This is merely the thoughts and ideal expressed by me personally and may not be shared with other contributors on this blog. And remember, editors are there to help you.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post! I know of so many people that fixate on the smallest grammar problem that they never get anything done. I just write. I want to put the story down. You are right. once you start fixating on a word or sentence, you lose your creative flow. Get the idea down, worry about the rest later.

    I am also a firm believer that every genre has their own grammar and structure. I don't read Stephen King expecting to find James Patterson's style and structure.