Challenging yourself: Turning off spell check

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My adventures in writing without spell check, and the hilarity that can still ensue even when you spell all the things correctly.

I write pretty much all the things without using spellcheck. If it’s something super important I might run it through such a program before uploading, but otherwise it’s a distraction for me. More importantly, I find it important to challenge my mind, to make it work on actively recalling the correct ways to spell without relying on a program to do it for me. The same is true of grammar checking programs. Besides, especially in fiction, I like to fudge a little bit now and then on what is considered ironclad, absolutely correct grammar, either for the sake of more believable character dialogue or because occasionally I may find that the most ideal way of expressing an idea or emotion might call for me to bend the “rules” of writing a tad. I don’t need a program to yell at me about it being wrong.

Rules were made to be broken anyway.

This touches on the subject, which I will get into more in depth at a later time, about how I think we humans, especially millennials, don’t challenge our brains enough. We rely too much on technology to do our thinking for us, or are so bombarded with information from every source that we become unable to think and digest data properly. The whole point of the struggles our parents and their ancestors before them endured was so that their children wouldn’t have to go through the same ordeals, so they could have easier and hopefully happier lives. That’s why I sometimes am at odds with the older generations having the mentality of judging their descendants with being lazy, since the whole point of what we deal with is so that our children can have better, happier lives than we did. But then I observe the ways we let our technology do too much of our thinking for us, and concede that maybe in some ways the collective we has become lazy.

I can understand that not everyone is great at spelling. I’m not the best mathematician in the world, to use a different example, but I do at least try to work through math processes in my head or long hand before falling back on a calculator. So I’m not going to judge a fellow writer who uses whatever tools they feel they must, whether spellcheck, or Grammarly, or what have you, in order to produce the best work they possibly can. I know some writers are really, really damned good at expressing ideas, but admit they need help with the minutiae of spelling and grammar. That’s okay. What I am saying is that you might find a surprising benefit from giving writing a go without any assists, to challenge your mind to solve problems and recall information on its own. You can keep your mind sharper than you give it credit for if you apply this to different areas of life… after all, isn’t it more satisfying and wouldn’t you feel more confident driving to a new place using your own knowledge of maps and directions instead of having your hand held by GPS… which, while a fantastic tool, can let you down.

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That was me after a friend followed a GPS recommendation that took us far off course and into what looked like haunted woods. Awesome.

Of course hilarity can still result in writing when you spell every word correctly, your grammar is solid, your sentence structure intact. The obvious example is transposing one valid word for another, so there are no technical mistakes but your meaning is now totally distorted. Or the case I found, of all the damning things in the short synopsis of my own novel, where there was a bizarre slip of words that technically, was still a complete sentence with no misspellings, but only made sense if you were willing to stretch the use of the word “hundreds” as some kind of lingo. Sigh. Such is the author’s life. I would say it qualifies as a first world problem, but, writing and communicating is a crucial skill, and the world we know wouldn’t exist without it. At the end of the day the important thing is to convey the correct ideas and the correct feelings in your writing, but I ask that you stop to consider the ways you can challenge your brain.

If you actually rely on its power, you may be surprised to learn of what it can do for you without any aid. Technology is great, but I feel it should be there to enhance what we already are, not act as a crutch for something that cannot support itself.

FIN

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