Mastering the subject of spelling may well be the single most difficult task confronting you on the road to clear writing. But, correct spelling is, without doubt, a goal worthy of accomplishment.
This point must be made absolutely clear: misspelled words will cause all of your hard work to sink – fast. So, be forewarned! It is absolutely imperative to make sure your spelling is correct. Misspelled words in particular are the bane of good writing; nothing will undermine your hard work and turn a reader off faster than a misspelled word, particularly if it’s a common one.
Revising and editing any writing as part of the polishing process is a definite must. This is also a good time to double check for spelling errors. (I always proofread for spelling errors as I am writing.) You must take the time to check the spelling of any word that looks suspicious to you. It’s a good idea to put a question mark over each word you have doubts about while you are writing, then go back and check the spelling on each word you marked. Resorting to a dictionary for new or difficult words should be the first and ongoing choice.
You can become a good speller if you go about it in the right way, but don’t expect overnight miracles. Remember the basic rules, such as i before e, except after c. There are exceptions to even that rule, however, such as leisure, seizure, financier, species, neither, either, height, and weird.
Many writers shortcut the correct spelling of words either because they don’t know their correct spelling or are too lazy to find out. Spelling “nite” instead of “night,” and “thru” instead of “through” is the result of careless, sloppy, or lazy writing and is disfavored in good writing. Don’t take any shortcuts with your spelling; they will stamp you as an amateur.
Another solution is to record all misspelled words on a separate sheet of paper; the act of writing down the correct spelling should in itself help you remember it. Keep this paper handy for continued reference and add to it on a regular basis. Try to understand why each word was misspelled.
Spelling by ear and by careful pronunciation can also help improve your spelling. Exaggeratedly careful pronunciation and spelling the words in syllables may also help.
You can also master the intricacies of good spelling through visualization. Make full use of your eye in learning to spell. Train your eye to observe printed words accurately. This approach is closely akin to learning good grammar by word association, as explained in my eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” available on amazon.com/kindlebooks. Good golfers are said to visualize each shot before hitting it. If it works in golf, it can work in spelling. Teach yourself to picture the correct spelling of all misspelled words in your mind. Concentrate on the correct spelling of these words to be sure you see every letter. Then look away, spell the word, and look back for verification. Repeat this procedure on a regular basis until you can instantly recognize the correct spelling of each previously misspelled word.
A related trouble spot is the use of the wrong word in place of the correct word. Thus, except (to exclude)and accept (to take) are often confused, as are affect (to influence) and effect (to accomplish),and allusion (a reference) and illusion (a deceiving appearance). When a confusing resemblance between two words causes you to misspell one of the words or to erroneously use one instead of the other, a good remedy is to focus your attention on one of the words, learn its spelling and correct use thoroughly. Use any memory device for this purpose, as long as it works.
It is important to bear in mind that poor spelling may well derail your efforts to find a job, or advance your career. It can also mean lost sales for your company. This bodes ill not only for you or your business but for the economy as well. The ability to spell accurately is but another step on the road to achieve clarity in communications, which is a vital ingredient not just for your success but for the economic success of the country. Rebuilding the country’s infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) often mentioned as a means of creating more jobs, also applies to rebuilding the pathways of communication between people.
Don’t forget to check out my website at www.agregardie.com.
Copyright © 2012. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.