Do You Need to Spell Well to Write Well?

Do you need to spell well to write well?

This is a question people often ask me when they come to my creative writing classes. They feel self conscious about their education, or their standard of education in general. The school system encourages them to equate good grammar with writing ability. They almost feel that they have no right to write, because they struggle with spelling.

Here’s the truth as I see it: good writers tend to be good spellers, but you don’t need to be a good speller to be a good writer.

Understanding of Language

If you’re interested in writing, you’re likely to have a strong understanding of how language works. The rules of language make sense to you, and you’re able to see the patterns in words, which makes it easier to spell them. If you’re a reader, you’ll subconsciously absorb the mechanics of language and your vocabulary expands. This all feeds into your writing.

Grammar Doesn’t Equal Writing

But defining writing in terms of spelling and grammar is like saying someone’s a good artist because they can put together a jigsaw. It’s the person who drew the images on the jigsaw who’s the artist; in other words, the person with the ideas. Great writing is about ideas and passion. It’s about your ability to create compelling characters and a fascinating world for them to live in. You don’t need to spell well to do that. You just need an instinctive understanding a story.

So don’t let struggles with spelling or grapples with grammar stop you putting pen to paper. Just get the ideas down, and when you’re done, find a good editor or proofreader to help you bring order to your words.


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