Friday, March 13, 2015

10 Reasons Writers Should Learn Good Grammar

I am pleased to welcome Ben Russel as a guest blogger here on The Writing Blog.

10 Reasons Writers Should Learn Good Grammar
by Ben Russel 

Among writers, there is a long-running debate over the importance of learning proper grammatical skills. In one camp (myself included here) are the writers who find it immensely important to know and use the policies of good grammar. Some writers, especially the avant-garde, rules-are-meant-to-be-broken type, reject the “conformist” standards of correct English in favor of purposefully erroneous prose. While I do agree that these styles of writing are fun and imaginatively innovative (and a writer in such styles may never feel compelled to exercise good grammar skills in his or her works), it is still a good idea for all writers to invest the time and effort in learning all the rules. Here are a few good reasons why.

1. Learn the rules (so you can break them)

The most efficient and effective way to rebel against anything is to know what you’re rebelling against! If you want to be a true menace to literature and break the mold that the English language has forced upon your craft, then take the time to learn what those standards are. According to college paper writer at, your arsenal of ground-breaking language will be stronger and have more of an impact on your readers when there is a method behind your madness instead of just careless, sloppy grammar.

2. Have respect for your craft

As a master (or master-in-progress) of any skill or trade, you have to learn from the bottom up. Respecting the process of becoming a writer by building a foundation of rudimentary skills spells the difference between Jackson Pollock’s paintings and those of your four-year-old sister that look somewhat similar. Any true master of their craft would have enough respect for their chosen medium to learn the basics, and then develop their artistic individuality from there.

3. Gain respect as a writer & taken seriously as an authority

I would assume any writer who produces works for others to read is hoping to gain respect for their writing. It’s a no-brainer that you should take great care in upholding the standards of whatever medium you choose to work in. You simply will not acquire respect as a writer if you are not aware of how to properly use your chosen language, as this is the only fundamental skill required of a proficient writer! A writer takes the time to learn spelling, punctuation, grammar, and style rules; if you’re not willing to do that, consider finding another way to disseminate your thoughts or creative juices. Furthermore, if your main concern is not the writing, but the topic or story therein, your credibility as an authority in your chosen field (or as a storyteller) will be tarnished by a blatant disregard for grammar rules. Showing ignorance in the very creative vehicle you’ve chosen to express your ideas is, well, ignorant.

4. Your ideas will be communicated more clearly

Speaking of being an authority in your field, there is a very large margin of error in communicating your ideas if you are not aware of good grammar rules. We’ve all heard the humorous ‘Let’s eat Grandma!’ as opposed to ‘Let’s eat, Grandma!’ examples of serious grammar follies. This sort of seemingly trivial mistake can have dire consequences for your writing, including skewing your words to mean something terrible!

5. People will actually want to read what you’ve written

Many writers (I, for one) don’t necessarily take into account their future audience when feverishly typing or putting pen to paper. But it serves a writer well to take into account who, if anyone, will honestly want to read their work! This is where competent grammar skills are most important for the fate of your creative endeavors: if your writing is extremely slipshod, with grammatical blunders and irritating punctuation faux pas, no one will want to read it. For some, they simply won’t be able to understand what you’re trying to say; for a grammar freak like me, I will lose interest in a piece that has one negligible comma missing. Don’t lose readers because you didn’t take the time to learn the most elementary grammar skills!

6. Incompetent writers don’t stand a chance in publishing

In today’s cutthroat publishing world, even the most profound writers with a solid grasp on proper grammar are receiving rejection slips on a regular basis. Not adhering strictly to good standards of grammar will dismiss your submission or manuscript from any editor’s desk immediately. Don’t be fooled into thinking that an editor is sitting at a desk just waiting to take a red pen to your piece and offer you money for it; most editors don’t have time for even the diamonds in the rough, and will be abhorred by your negligence to clean up your grammar mistakes before sending off your work. Doing so could be a permanent mark on your reputation with a particular editor.

7. Working with & saving money on an editor

If you ever decide to hire a professional editor to read your work (which every aspiring author should, regardless of their skill level in English), you are going to break the bank if she or he has to perform grammatical surgery on your novel. What’s more, some editors won’t even go that far—if it’s too much of a disaster, it would barely be recognizable as your writing when you got it back! Editors are not just there to do your dirty work for you—a good editor/writer relationship will include honest feedback and constructive criticism to polish your work to its maximum potential. If you aren’t knowledgeable about grammar enough to engage in this sort of conversation with your editor, you are not getting your money’s worth, and your writing is not reaping the benefits, either.

8. Bend language to your whims

With a thorough comprehension of grammar rules, you can better use language as a tool to unlock the magnificent wonders of words. In my classical art training, I learned about the color palette. It was an arduous and rather boring process; I just wanted to start painting already! But when I did finally master color theory, I was amazed at how I could use these different tints and shades to harness my creative beast. Spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure are the same way in the context of writing: respect the medium, learn the rules, and then bend them to create your one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

9. Break the cycle of poor grammar

Everywhere we look we see terrible grammar: advertisements, tabloids, social media, the text message you just got from your friend. As writers, we should uphold the standards of good grammar, even if we are the only ones in this day and age who think it’s important. You don’t have to stick to every rule in your writing; just learn good grammar for the sake of learning, which is another concept that is quickly dwindling in the digital age. Save the sacred nature of the English language, your chosen apparatus of expression, since the following is inevitably true…

10. The evolution of language is in writers’ hands

Who keeps the craft of writing relevant to each unfolding generation? Writers, of course! Literature, essays, poetry, and even nonfiction books have shaped the ideals of revolutions, subcultures, governments, and cultural phenomena. Alongside the ideas these books instill in their readers are the intrinsic nuances of linguistics woven through written works, holding those ideas together. A writer’s use of language is the driving force behind the inevitable evolution of a language, along with verbal communication, which is much more unruly. Preserve the beauty of the English language by devoting some time to learning good grammar; the future of writing and reading is dependent on it.

Author bio: Ben helps students with their admissions essays. One of his recent published articles is on how to write an admissions essay for nursing school.


  1. First off I want to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question that I'd like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your head before
    writing. I've had a hard time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out there.
    I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost simply
    just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas
    or hints? Thanks!

    1. That is a very good question. One thing that has helped me in the past is when I finish writing for the day (or come to the end of a writing period), I take a minute to jot down what I want to do the next time I sit down to write -- sort of an "assignment" if you will -- that puts me to work right away when I return. I might tell myself to write a character sketch for a character or to do an outline of scenes for a chapter or a brief description of a scene that needs to be written or to write a particular scene. I hope that helps.


So, what do you say?