On Being A Writing Snob

2014-11-11 10.02.40I received a very cool postcard from Oldest Junior Hall who’s still over in New Zealand, doing his thing.

First, I read the card like a mother, smiling at the message, my heart missing that grown-up boy. But then I read it again, proofreading the note like a writer. And thank goodness, I still smiled. (He should’ve capitalized Lego, but he did get the apostrophe right, so it’s all good.)

Now, before you start thinking that I’m some kind of writing snob, I’ll bet you do the same thing, if you’re a writer. We can’t help it. We’re all about the words and the grammar and the sentence structure and we can’t just turn that part of our brain off and on like a spigot, right?

But it’s more than just being a writing snob.

I mean, I’d still love that boy, even if he wrote “their” when he meant “there.” But I’d correct him, too. I wouldn’t want him making mistakes in business emails or professional letters, or even social media posts and postcards, for all the wide world to see. Because a mom may overlook errors, but others may not judge so nicely.

I think people–and when I say people, I mean writers and non-writers alike–need to be able to express themselves correctly and effectively through the written word. So I want middle school teachers to take off points when a student uses “there” instead of “their.” I want college professors to demand error-free papers, even from Physics majors. And I want my kids to write lovely postcards all the way from New Zealand without grammar mistakes.

I guess I am a bit of a writing snob. But I’m a snob who appreciates how hard it is to put words to paper, so keep writing. But proofread your work, okay?

(How about you? Β When it comes to writing errors, do you correct friends and family, or do you let it go?)



9 thoughts on “On Being A Writing Snob

  1. How nice to get a postcard from the kid!! And if you didn’t notice the mistakes that are out there, I’d be worried about you. πŸ™‚ I’m a corrector, too, but only for my kids and those who are asking me to find mistakes. Otherwise, I let it go. If I were a teacher, though, I’d definitely take points off. One little mistake can be a big deal on a college application, resume, cover letter, etc. Speaking of which, have you seen Weird Al’s Word Crimes video? Hilarious! I smell a Fun Friday Find!!!

  2. Cathy–

    It depends. If I dislike the person (a snobby colleague, for instance) when I catch a mistake, I keep it to myself but inside, I smile. If someone comes to me asking for a second pair of eyes, for sure, I’ll point out any mistakes I can find. Otherwise, I let things go. Everyone makes mistakes, and if they’re not planning on publishing that Christmas newsletter in a national magazine, what’s to gain from pointing out the errors?

  3. I’m not capable of “letting it go.” When my daughters were younger, and still wrote letters to Santa, I corrected spelling and grammar errors in their letters to the jolly old elf. The originals are tucked away in a box of keepsakes.
    As a T.A. for a Humanities professor in college, one of my duties was grading papers. The professor asked me to “lighten up on the grammatical corrections,” saying it wasn’t an English class.

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