When writing is your bread and butter, everything you put on digital paper can either make or break your reputation. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a blog post for SEO purposes or a sequel to a popular book. People judge your writing on three factors: level of interest, word choice, and grammatical accuracy.

Piece of Interest

Your audience’s interest in a piece will come and go. You can’t swing and hit a home run every time as a writer. Some of your swings will hit a fly ball well beyond the foul line. Others won’t make it past the pitcher’s mound. Still others connect with nothing but empty air. Interest comes and goes as it pleases the reader.

An uninteresting piece won’t often hurt your chances for development. It likely won’t help you much either though.

Proper Word Choice

Incorrect word choice can hurt you. Writing a word without knowing its correct definition can be embarrassing.

A common example is the phrase “I couldn’t care less about [fill in the blank].” This phrase is used to express a complete lack of interest in [fill in the blank]. Listen carefully to how people are saying it these days. You’ll hear that people are changing it. They are dropping the contraction and talk of things they “could” care less about.

“I could care less about what Susie across the street is doing.” This doesn’t quite make sense. You don’t care, but you’re saying the words that say you do. “I could care less about the President.” Oh yeah, what are your opinions?

Make sure you’re always choosing the right word. Word choice will lose you a point or two. Your entire reputation doesn’t hinge on that point, but it does help you build a name with future employers when you use them correctly.

Correct Comma Placement

Grammatical accuracy is the point that potential employers line up to pass sentence on your work. Your reputation as a writer depends on it. Twilight caught the world’s attention, but it contains so many grammatical mistakes that the public cringes. The topic matter was interesting enough to capture the public’s interest, but few writers, editors, or avid readers hold a high opinion of Stephanie Meyer’s writing ability.

To Stephanie’s credit, no author writes 400 pages or more of a novel without making a few mistakes. In fact, many of the manuscripts from acclaimed authors such as J.K. Rowling, Ayn Rand, and Stephen King were riddled with grammatical (t)errors. One of the major differences between their reputations and Stephanie’s is that their manuscripts underwent more intense edits. These edits purged their pieces of every problem. Stephanie’s editors were not as thorough.

On the grammatical end, the problem isn’t often that the author doesn’t know how to write, nor that they write uninteresting pieces. The problem lies in the fact that their work wasn’t edited properly.

Writer’s Takeaway

Edit your writing before submitting it, even if you only have time for a once-through. If you write for a living, you put thousands of words into hundreds of complex sentences every day. You will make mistakes, despite your mastery of the English language. Save your reputation by removing those mistakes before they reach public. You hurt the image of the company that attaches your name to theirs when you make mistakes, i.e. publisher, SEO agency, or newspaper. The more you let slip through, the harder it will be to progress in your writing career.

Jamie Bates