Are you a grammar nerd? I don’t quite fit the criteria, but I am not far. Only since I started writing in English (which is not my native language), my standards have loosened a bit. My grasp of the English grammar is not as good as my grasp on French grammar. My grasp on French grammar was never that brilliant but I have the excuse that French grammar is one notch more difficult than the English one.
But today’s post is not about grammar. Yes, good grammar is important to writers and if yours is appalling, I suggest you refresh your skills. It is never too late to learn. There is no shame in admitting to lacking in this department. Only imbeciles never learn.
No, what I want to write about is the fact that I believe being a grammar nerd is detrimental to your career as a writer and might have actually stopped you from finishing any pieces of work. I would hazard a guess that true grammar nerds would stop at page twenty of any of their drafts. And here is why. They can’t stop correcting themselves and as a consequence, they start revising their first draft before they finish it. And so the more they progress, the less they progress.
Here is the news: a first draft is supposed to be poorly written. It should be finished before any revisions are made. In fact, this is so important that it is an instrumental part of my teaching in my one day workshop for beginners. Do not revise a first draft should be one of the Ten Commandments of writers. In fact grammar should probably not come into the second draft either. I can hear the grammar nerds growling. How is it possible to let any grammatically incorrect writing remain in any piece of written work? If you are serious about writing, listen to my advice. You will have ample opportunities to revise at a later stage, but paying too much attention to detail at this stage might waste precious time and energy on something that is likely to be changed dramatically over the coming drafts.
Did you know that F. Scott Fitzgerald did 200 drafts of “The Great Gatsby” before it was finished? Imagine making sure all the dots and the commas are perfect on 200 drafts? Personally, I can’t. It would drive me up the wall.
To your creativity,
Ange de Lumiere