1. The Nightingale
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    The Nightingale New Member

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    Grammar-obsessed?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by The Nightingale, Nov 7, 2010.

    I think I am! I dedicate so much time to proof-reading EVERYTHING (not just my writing, but letters, school work etc.) that I almost fail to get it done. I don’t profess to be perfect at grammar or punctuation - in fact - that’s the problem! I’m so insecure about making mistakes that I proof-read everything up to twenty times! Even once I’ve finished I spend time fretting over whether I missed something. I just worry that making a mistake will make me look unprofessional and unintelligent. As a result, I end up stressing about it and procrastinating.

    The three things that worry me the most are:

    Commas
    Tenses
    Syntax

    Syntax and commas worry me because their usage isn’t entirely dictated by any hard-and-fast rules. How you use them is partly down to how you want your sentence to sound. The reason I worry about tenses is that I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to use the wrong tense when the subject/verb is ambiguous. I never put a great deal of study into correct tenses and now I regret it. Are there any good online guides for the most common problems? I have a few guides at home, but they always word their explanations in a confusing way. I need something simpler.

    It’s annoying because the majority of the time I will spend five hours proof-reading a document and find mistakes that I could have spotted by reading it twice. For the most part, I don’t make terrible mistakes… I just worry about making them!

    Is there anyway to overcome this? I waste so much time!
     
  2. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Just out of curiosity, how many times did you proofread this post? :)

    You sound very negative about this, but to want to be grammatically correct every time you write is not a bad thing. In fact that's a very good practice for aspiring writers. It might take time to do so now, but in time you'll make fewer mistakes and proofreading time will be drastically reduced.

    For the time being I have only one suggestion: increase the time between your proofreading sessions. Say for example, if you did your first proofreading of a piece in the morning, then do the second proofreading of the piece in the evening or the next day. This will be more helpful then back to back proofreading a piece ten/twenty times.
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally I don't worry about grammar until it is time to edit. Everyone is different. I do not use the same grammar when writing a letter to a friend as I would writing to a lawyer or politician etc.

    With my novel I find my first draft changes so much it is a waste of my time when I could be writing the story. I get anal with the final edit. I wrote my last 100,000 word novel's first draft in three weeks - it will take months to redraft and edit. My 60,000 word YA novel took six months of editing and still has one to go.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Let me ask this - how many errors do you find on each proofreading pass?

    There is a principle in software testing for deciding when a piece of software is ready for release. You track how many errors are uncovered in each iteration of testing, and when the rate at which you discover new errors drops below a predetermined threshold, it's time to launch the product.

    The same principle applies to proofreading. You cannot reasonably expect to catch every error, but if you keep track of how many errors you uncover in each proofreading pass, you'll find a point at which further proofreading passes are not worth the low number of problems uncovered. At that time, it'stime to start submitting, and put your writing efforts into a new project.

    I don't agree with not worrying about it until after your first proofreading pass, though. Forming and reinforcing good grammar habits is never a waste of effort.
     
  5. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    I believe there is a 12 step program for this--check your local directory.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    self-discipline is one of the most vital requisites for all who want to be professional writers of any breed... you're going to have to engender and develop same, if you want to get anywhere [e.g., to the end of whatever you're writing! ;-) ]
     

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