do and don't · writing problems

Sympathy and good grammar

I got more emails in the vein of, “Help me, I don’t know how to do this!” and “Which problems caused you to reject me?”

Sometimes I answer — a few sentences, a few links. Sometimes I don’t. A deciding factor for me is proper grammar and spelling.

I know some people struggle with spelling and grammar more than others. It clicks for some and not for others. But a good way to learn proper grammar and spelling is by practice: lots of reading and lots of writing.


  • a writer’s commas and contractions are all wrong;
  • they can’t spell simple words like “run” and “about;”
  • or they have run-on sentences missing vital pieces like subjects and verbs,

I assume they’re not serious about the craft of writing. I assume they’ve read hardly any books and written even less. I assume they don’t respect their readers, including me, enough to do a line edit or even a simple spell check.

When writers don’t take time to polish their stuff, I don’t take time to answer pleas for guidance.

This isn’t to say I’ll reject you at the first sign of a typo. I understand little things slip by unnoticed — I do it too. The difference between good writing with typos and truly poor writing is clear.


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