There’s a dirty little secret that writers, including me, have been keeping for many years — we make a ton of grammatical errors in every document we produce.
I like to blame it on my fingers. They just can’t keep up with the speed of my mind. From articles, press releases and emails to social media posts, I tend to beat myself up for hours after spotting a mistake in a document that has already been sent off to someone else to read. It’s a flaw I have been trying to improve for the last decade. I’ve gotten a lot of advice from other writers on how to improve, including slowing down my writing process, setting a document aside for a period of time before going back through to proof it and reading my content backwards to catch error.
While that might work for some people, usually by the time I’ve completed an article I’m just too darn close to the project to see all my mistakes. That’s when Amber takes over and reads almost everything I write before I send it out.
About a year ago that all changed when I discovered Grammarly, a writing enhancement platform that has helped me clean up a lot of the grammar mistakes I tend to make. The best part of about the app is that its web-based and has a supporting Chrome extension that works across social media platforms and Gmail.
Now when I’m writing an email, I get real-time feedback — not just on typos, but Grammarly will alert me to missing modifiers and poor sentence structure. Sure my emails still aren’t perfect, but I’m a lot closer than I have been in the past. It’s also been a huge help when I’m posting to our blog, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I don’t feel like I need a second set of eyes on every sentence I write anymore.
For longer form writing, Grammarly has a desktop application for Macs that works great. I believe there is also an extension that works directly with Microsoft Office for PCs, but I’m not a PC guy, so I have no idea how it works.
Here's how I use Grammarly in my writing process: First, I should mention that I’m not a big fan of starting any article Microsoft Office. A blank Word document intimidates me, so I usually write my first draft in Evernote. It’s clean, and there’s no distracting word count information. Once the first draft is complete, I copy it over to the Grammarly application, and it quickly pulls up all the mistakes that I’ve made, calls attention to the words I’ve used too much, points out passive voice and alerts me to poor sentence structure. After working through that feedback, I copy the text over to Word, rewrite areas I’m not happy with and pass it along to Amber to review.
Grammarly helps me clean up 90 percent of my mistakes before Amber or I do any in-depth proofread on a project. I believe it’s also made me a better writer by pointing out styles and phrases I might lean on a bit too much in my writing. I know I’ve cut down on using the word “really” because the program points it out to me. Is the app perfect? Nope, but then neither am I.
I’m not one to write reviews on apps or products, but Grammarly has helped me a lot. If you find this information helpful, I encourage you to give the Grammarly a try. It is available in both a free version and a paid version. After a week of using the free version, I jumped to the paid version. When I find value in a product, I believe it's important to support the company that creates it, even if I can get by using the free version of a program.
Check it out and let me know what you think!