Should You Correct Your Spelling And Grammar Mistakes As You Go?

Should You Correct Your Spelling And Grammar Mistakes As You Go?

Accuracy matters, as we never tire of pointing out here at Mind Your Language. But what if you’re undertaking the NaNoWriMo challenge, where you have to produce a 50,000 word novel in a month? Does it make sense to worry about spelling when you’re trying to churn out 1700 words a day, or should you press on regardless?

Novelist picture from Shutterstock

Whether you’re writing a novel or a cover letter, the most important thing is this: make sure that you have built in checking for errors as part of your process. For some people, writing is a process of continual revision, and picking up errors as you go is part of that process. Others prefer to draft and then do an entirely separate run of error-checking. Both are reasonable approaches. Many people (myself included) do a little of both.

Some NaNoWriMo participants maintain that you don’t have time to edit during the challenge, so you shouldn’t worry about spelling or consistency during the writing process. Having completed the challenge twice (and having signed up again for it this year), I can’t say I agree. Indeed I can’t see how anyone can write 50,000 words without a certain amount of cross-referencing and editing. And while I accept that in reality a novel you have written in 30 days is only a first draft, I’m not sure something riddled with typos qualifies even as that.

However, writing processes differ. What doesn’t differ is this: you will have to go back and look for the mistakes at some point. Commit to that whenever it suits you — but don’t pretend it doesn’t matter at all.

Lifehacker’s Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.


  • Pour Sandra, her litel hart was broked. She new she had lefft it to latte too stop that pawacite.
    *shudders* typing that made me feel dirty.

  • Accuracy matters, as we never tire of pointing out hereDoes it though..?
    Particularly when you specifically point out that you can use a spell checker either during or after writing..! As for writing comments, I really love “Grammarly”… 🙂

  • Yes we should… Most of the time. Obvious mistakes of hitting the wrong key don’t always need xorrecting.

  • Are you really achieving the word count if you do so with terrible spelling and grammar? How much quality is able to be sacrificed before it equates to fail?

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