I hate it. I hate doing it, and I hate that it’s necessary. I mean I get it. Completely. But it’s just something that I’ve never been good at and find boring.
Back in school every single parent teacher night, every single report card, every single marked paper made some comment about my spelling and grammar. It was something that stuck with me through first school, middle school and high school. Even in college. Although by college i’d somewhat stopped caring. There was just always mention of it.
I get it’s important, I really do. But I worked hard to improve my spelling and grammar in school and while I could pass most spelling tests easily enough, that was just more memory. When I had to write an essay or story that’s when it showed and that’s when I’d get comments on it.
The problem was that I wrote quickly. I had idea’s, stories, and I had to get them out. The quicker I write the more appalling my spelling becomes. Has just always gone hand in hand. It bothered me, I wanted to be better. But the improvement was never great enough. I’ve always been interested in writing. I wouldn’t say it became a big passion until around 16, but even before that I wrote all the time. Any chance to put pen to paper I was there, and I can tell you right now it wasn’t for drawing because my stick men where worse than my spelling.
So here’s the big thing that bothered me about it all. After being told how bad I was at it every year, I passed my English GCSE with ease. Very high B, 2 marks off an A. Turns out that at the time (Don’t know if it’s still true now) spelling and grammar accounted for about 5-10% of the actual exams. What the Fuck. So I was basically told my whole life how bad I was at English, but what they really meant was you suck at 5-10% of it. Why didn’t someone explain that better to me!
And that’s stuck with me. Now I think back on how well praised my stories where and how people found them interesting and wanted to read more. But that was always under the could do better in spelling part which was my main focus when reading my feedback.
So now as an adult (kinda) proof reading has become a big part of my life again. You can’t send scripts off riddled with mistakes or publish stories (something I’d like to do one day) with errors everywhere. It’s distracting and unprofessional.
The problem I have here is obviously the script should be judged on the story. Same for the book. Is it interesting? Do I care about or relate to the characters? Am I intrigued, excited, emotionally attached? When the film hits the screen no one can look for spelling mistakes. But at that point it’s not a written art as such. But again. I get it. Correct spelling and grammar along with formatting shows you’re professional and can save time for the reader producers etc. But as a writer being a storyteller and being great at spelling and grammar don’t just go hand in hand.
So what’s a writer to do?
For me personally I’ve worked very hard at it. But it’s not been easy. I get people I know who are strong at proof reading to go through my work for me after I’ve tried. (Luckily they’re kind enough to do it for free). I can see from script to script that I have far fewer errors than the last. My first script probably had about 10 a page. This latest one maybe one or two every 10 pages. Big difference. But that’s over a near 10 year period with the progress only really coming in the last couple of years.
I ignore spelling and grammar errors in early drafts because they’re only for me at the moment. When I have paid work and someone wants to see each draft as it’s done, that’s when I’ll be begging my friends to take a look, or paying someone because despite the improvement I’ll never trust myself to be perfect or even near perfect at all. I know there will always be mistakes.
It’s one of them skills in life I wish I can just do. Not sure why I can’t, I just don’t see the mistakes. When someone asks be what’s wrong with this and points to it, I can tell them. But I wouldn’t have spotted it on my own. Am sure there will be mistakes in this blog despite me checking it a few times over (And don’t tell me please, just let it be).
So I will continue to try. I’ll put in the effort. I always do. But I guess what it comes down to is I’ll always struggle and doubt myself when it comes to proof reading, have my whole life. But I’ve got a little better, and I’ve got friends who will help. So why not take advantage of them right 😉