I am not a procrastinator, in general, but I do indulge in what some might call “creative prioritization.” You know: the fun stuff first, the not-so-fun stuff next, the tedious and boring bits dead last. I can euphemistically refer to this as putting the “most bang for buck” items up front or go all corporate and say I’m going for “the low-hanging fruit” first, but I’m not fooling anyone, least of all myself.
I’m just delaying the inevitable, and in editing, the inevitable includes the dreaded, stupefying, and largely useless practice of Spell-check and Grammar-check. I’d skip the whole damned process if it consistently came up with nothing, but it doesn’t.
I hate spell/grammar checks, mostly because when going through a novel, it’s a ton of work for very little payoff. Think about it: by the time I get ready for submission, my MS has been read by me several times, then by First Reader at least once, and then by my Second Readers. Each time I’ve been given lists of notes about spelling, grammar, and style. I’ve applied all these fixes, and then I’ve reread the MS again. What, then can a spell/grammar check possibly find?
Unfortunately, in every version of every word processor I’ve ever used, it finds a lot. The problem is that almost 100% of those “finds” are false positives. I has to do with style.
I’m writing fiction, not a business letter, not a doctoral thesis. My use of the language is looser, less formal. I make combination words like “creekbed” and “ridgetop” which drive spellcheckers mad. I write dialogue in which poor grammar is spoken. I use fragments. I repeatedly leave off the “and” in the final item of lists. And, in the five Fallen Cloud books, I use a lot of foreign words and phrases, and have unusual names, both of which raise little squiggly red and green flags as the spell and grammar checks parse the MS. These are things I want and these are things I will keep in the MS.
So why do it? Why bother? Because as I go through the haystack of my MS, for every 50 clicks on “Next” and “Ignore,” there’s one time that makes me go “Hmmm…” and click “Change.”
Because it’s not the errors you catch that kick a reader out of the story, it’s the errors you don’t catch.