A Professional Toolkit

If I had a nickel for every writer (nearly every single one of them self-published or amateur hoping to be picked up by a traditional publisher) I’ve heard claim they don’t need to know grammar, I’d be a very rich woman. A writer, professional or working toward professional, who doesn’t have a strong command of grammar is like a carpenter who doesn’t know the various types of joins. Actually, s/he is more like a doctor who thinks s/he doesn’t have to learn all the muscle groups in the body.

You wouldn’t trust a doctor who couldn’t tell a tendon from a deltoid. Why should anyone trust a writer who can’t structure a sentence or paragraph? It sounds like a strange and downright ludicrous comparison, but it’s really not. When you decide to pursue a profession, then you need to actually learn that trade. That includes vocabulary, tools, and techniques common to that trade’s work. Otherwise, you’re simply playing at the trade.

For a writer, punctuation marks are not much different from a carpenter’s joins or fastening devices. Crafting sentence structure isn’t much different than correctly rebuilding tendon connections. When we don’t know what we’re doing, it shows it in the lack of clarity of what we’re writing. And that lack of clarity can completely torpedo our writing.

So, if you’re a writer staring at a grammar lesson (be it punctuation, parts of speech, sentence constructions, etc.) and you’re rolling your eyes and saying to yourself, I don’t need to learn this. That’s what editors are for., it is time for you to choose a different career path. You can’t be unwilling to learn the tools of the trade and expect anyone to take you seriously.

 

(It’s been one of those weeks. Does it show?)

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