Hey cHEwY gum gums!

Yesterday’s Daily Telegraph’s front page had people talking about spelling. Some were outraged that HSC markers had not prioritised spelling when they were assessing students’ responses to English texts. I actually agree with the markers, as long as the student gets their message across, a few spelling errors shouldn’t drag their score down.

Well, how about creative writing? Parents, teachers and kids ask me if spelling is important? I say no.

Never let spelling mistakes get in the way of a good story 🙂

When I’m in the zone, working on a raw draft, I am rushing the words out of my head before the idea fades away. I only worry about spelling in the next phase of editing and polishing.

Putting my ex-teacher hat on, I’ve seen students who are paralysed by perfection. They’re so worried about making spelling mistakes that they spend half their time rubbing or deleting words. I tell them to let that fear go. I’m only interested in the narrative itself. So when I mark their work, I don’t circle every spelling error. I focus on the characters and setting. Is this story flowing and entertaining?

I carry this mantra with me when I do my writing workshops.

I’m not saying that we turn a blind eye to spelling and punctuation, or that we give kids a free pass so they can write in short-form, a habit that they pick up when they txt or msg their friends. But there’s a time and place to work on those skills.

People reckon that writers have to be masters of spelling, grammar and punctuation. Not true. Every writer learns on the go. I still struggle with tense, but I’m getting better thanks to my editor’s feedback. My friend loves to point out mistakes in my blog. I’m just glad she’s reading them, thanks Chhuy heaheahea.

Spelling is still important for the final piece of work, whether it’s a manuscript sent to a publisher, a cover letter or resume. There’s nothing worse seeing a typo or error in a finished book or document. But when you are caught up in the pure magic of creating, moulding and weaving stories, don’t worry about spelling…and ignore those red wriggly lines that pop up on the computer haha!

How about yourself? Do you focus on spelling when you write? Is spelling important to you? Let me know 🙂


About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree

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