It may seem like a contradiction but grammar is indeed not everything when it comes to writing copy. When producing an article, news story or press release, there are various factors that have to be considered in order to write truly exceptional copy, the kind of copy that people will find useful enough to actually finish reading. Find out what these are and learn how to use them together in order to maintain balance in your written work:
Content matters, first and foremost
Content in this context refers to substance; the overall worth of the write-up. It doesn’t refer to the number of words used or type of words you chose to use. What does your write-up say? What value can the readers get out of it? Are you substituting good grammar and big words because you have nothing else to say?
Although you shouldn’t be afraid of big words, it’s always better not to complicate things for your readers. Determine your target audience first; their interests, capacity, what they find useful and interesting, and then write for them. By placing more importance on what your readers can get out of your write-up, you will be producing more substance out of your copy. After all, what’s great grammar if there’s nothing good in what you have to say?
Focusing solely on grammar is distracting
One common mistake among writers is obsessing about grammar when they begin to write. As a result, they get distracted, derailed from their train of thought. Imagine having a really terrific idea and then worrying over where to place a comma or which clause to use first. The great ideas and content that could have come out of you as a writer and made your writing better can get lost or confused with other ideas and concerns.
When writing, don’t worry too much about grammar, at least at first. Write down words as they come to you. Don’t let the subject of grammar bother you when inspiration strikes. Only when you’re done should you then go over what you have written to check and improve it. Only then should grammar be a concern. After all, how can you proofread something you haven’t even written yet?
Even the greatest focused on substance and not on form
The great American writers Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner had a famous rivalry. Faulkner, a writer praised for his intricate prose style (that initially confused his readers), criticized Hemingway’s trademark simplicity.
Hemingway fired back, saying that there are ‘simpler and better words’, even saying that Faulkner shouldn’t think that ‘big emotions come from big words’. Refusing to give in and use what he called ’10-dollar words’, Hemingway continued to write in his simple, easy style. He is still a well-loved and much-admired author today.
Grammar is not everything, but…
Grammar may not be everything but it is still a major component of good copy. You can’t just ignore the value of good grammar because it isn’t the be-all and end-all of writing.
Good grammar is equated to professionalism and is considered the true sign of a skilled and experienced professional. Furthermore, it’s also considered as one of the signs that what you have written is reliable. Bad grammar, on the other hand, is for amateurs, lazy writers and scammers.
Although grammar is not everything in writing copy, don’t ignore it. Use it as a means to improve what you have already written and progress as a writer.