Are you a writer who needs a boost to take your writing from all right to kablam? Check out the one tool I use that makes me a better writer.
In September of 2013, I published my first novel, and I naively thought I was a good writer. Fast forward four years and I now know how little I actually did know back then. I’m sure that come four years from now I will look back to now and sigh as I think of all the things I had yet to learn.
That’s the thing about being a writer, the more you write, the better writer you become. Of course, we are all limited in our capabilities, but with experience comes wisdom. One of the key things I’ve learned so far is that to err truly is human. And, even the best writers overlook things.
It’s fine to have some errors in a novel if you’re sending it over to your editor and/or proofreaders. Although, you will save yourself some money and hassle by having the document as error-free as possible. But, when you’re writing articles or posts like this one, it isn’t financially agreeable to pay an editor to proof your blog posts, especially when you’re pumping them out twice a week.
So, how does a writer get an extra pair of eyes to look over their work without forking over hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars to an experienced editor?
The first thing is to continue writing to get better and then you need to condition your mind to search for the mistakes. Unfortunately, both of these take time. Another way to give you an advantage is to invest in a dependable grammar checker program.
You might think to yourself, “Well, I’ve got that covered with my MS Word grammar checker.”
You also might be wrong.
While I do love those little blue and red squiggly lines, Word doesn’t hold a candle to an actual grammar program. And, here’s why.
Word looks at all documents the same. Because of this, it only hits on the grammar errors that would be considered issues regardless of the type of document you’re writing.
I think we would agree if I said that a blog post and a Sci-Fi novel have different writing styles. Just as an essay and an email to your friend have different writing styles. A good grammar program will allow you to choose the type of document you’re writing and then check it based on that style.After all, having a character with thick black hair is so much more appealing than having a character with thick back hair. That’s what one little letter can do.Click To Tweet
So, what is the one tool I use that makes me a better writer?
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For the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve been proofing my work with Grammarly. Whether I’m writing my next novel, a blog post, an email, or any other document that I want people to see, I check it with Grammarly. It’s added as a Chrome extension on all my computers as well as downloaded as an add-on to MS Word on my Windows-based computer.
Not only does Grammarly allow you to choose the type of document you’re editing, but it scans for five aspects of grammar: contextual spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and style. You can choose to edit your document using all of these options at once or one at a time.
When I’m proofing a novel, I will turn all aspects off except one. Then I move through the novel searching for that one specific type of error. Once finished, I will move to the next, searching only for those errors. Going over the document looking for one specific typo at a time offers a greater chance that nothing is overlooked. Also, with the style option, Grammarly will offer you advice on word choices, allowing you to expand the vocabulary in your document and avoiding redundancy.
You can get a free version of the software if you just want to enhance your usual proofreading regimen. But, if you are a professional writer, then the features that are available with the premium version are what you want. And, yes, if you’re a blogger, you’re a professional writer since that’s what you do for a living.
Unless you are one of those rare, hawkeyed writers who can catch a grammatical mistake with a patch over one eye, chances are you could use a boost when it comes to proofreading. I will admit that editing is not my favorite part of writing. It is a necessary evil, though, if you actually want people to be able to read (and understand) what you’ve written.
After all, having a character with thick black hair is so much more appealing than having a character with thick back hair. That’s what one little letter can do.
Here are some of the features you get with the free and premium versions of Grammarly: