You can’t tell who they are until something happens. Something evil. Something so terrible it’s almost an unspeakable crime. But they’re everywhere. And if you’re not a careful proofreader of your own writing, you may one day find yourself face to face with the grammar police.
And that’s no laughing matter.
The uncommissioned members of the grammar police are outraged by misplaced commas. They hyperventilate over misspellings. And they’ll shake their fist at the sky over a dangling participle…sometimes muttering words we can’t repeat.
For freelance writers, there’s an often overlooked factor that kills some client relationships and undermines your credibility: grammar and punctuation mistakes.
Even seasoned writers are at risk of letting those mistakes pass through the final draft. And I guarantee you, that if you do, the grammar police will find you. They’ll slash your work with a red pen and virtually edit your writing into oblivion. Don’t let that happen.
Here are the 10 most common mistakes to watch for. Correct your mistakes before the grammar police hunt you down. Here’s how:
You’re about to fire off a query letter, submit an article assignment to an editor, or send an LOI to a prospect. Do you use a grammar checker tool before you hit send?
There’s the typical safeguards to catch spelling errors and basic grammar issues in programs like Microsoft Word and Google Docs.
But in the last few years, there’s been a kind of meeting of the minds between wordsmiths and software engineers to create more sophisticated grammar checker tools.
These grammar checker tools promise to:
- Catch spelling and grammar issues
- Identify major issues in your writing
- Learn your writing style
- Offer specific recommendations based on the type of writing you’re doing (business, technical, medical, marketing, etc.)
Does that mean you can just ignore all the rules covered in The Elements of Style (one of the most widely-used books on style and grammar since 1918) and use a grammar checker tool?
Let’s take a closer look at some popular grammar checker tools to find out if this is crucial software, or just a crutch for freelancers.
If you think you’ve mastered all the grammar rules you need to know in English class to be a freelance writer, I’ve got news for you.
Rules were meant to be broken.
Not all the grammar rules you learned in school will help you catch an editor’s attention, write smart marketing copy, or move up and earn more as a freelancer.
And that was hard for me to accept.
I’ve been an English teacher for more than a decade. But to land freelance writing assignments, I had to ignore some of the very grammar rules I taught in school.
Wondering how to improve your writing and send Boring and Stuffy to detention?
I really started to take notice when I was grading formal research papers and thinking about a blog assignment for a client at the same time.
Two totally different worlds.
I’m sure your English teacher was a nice person. But if you want to succeed as a freelance writer, break these grammar rules:
Note: Are you part of the grammar police? Or do you despise well-meaning writers who can’t overlook an errant punctuation mark or typo? In this post, originally written by Linda Formichelli, she serves up four in-your-face reasons grammar police make terrible freelance writers. Enjoy! —Carol.
The other day I received this email in response to a marketing message I sent out to my subscription list:
Basic grammar forbids the use of double negatives, “…using the wrong
set of skills for the wrong job”. An authority on writing must master
the rules of writing before they can be taken seriously.
(I so wanted to let this guy know that “the wrong skills for the wrong job” is hardly a double negative, and that some of the greatest writers of all times used double negatives for emphasis — Shakespeare, anyone? But I took my own advice and hit Delete.)
Have you ever wanted to spy on your prospective freelance writing clients?
There are some ways to sleuth out information that can really give you a leg-up in your marketing. The more you know, the easier it is to avoid scams and suss out better freelance writing gigs.
I love digging up useful info on prospective freelance clients.
So whenever I come across a new tool for this, I start compiling a list.
Below are the seven intelligence-gathering freelance writer tools I’m currently finding most useful:
by Linda Formichelli The other day I received this email in response to a marketing message I sent out to my subscription list: Basic grammar forbids the use of double negatives, “…using the wrong set of skills for the wrong…