For a writer, typos and silly errors are a reputation killer. That’s why I rely on a little help.
You might find it surprising that I am admitting to using online tools to help me correct my writing.
However, if you are like me and write a lot of short texts on the Internet, you’ll know that it’s hard to avoid making errors when writing in a hurry.
Whether it be on Facebook, Twitter or my blog, I endeavour to ensure that even my shortest social media posts or replies to comments are error free.
It is so easy to write a quick comment or reply and make a clanging mistake. Sod’s Law comes into effect immediately, and the Grammar Police attack even the smallest error. The same can be said for long form writing, but at least there is more time available to find and correct errors.
Well over two years ago, I started trying a few online spelling and grammar checkers, but none of them worked to my satisfaction. They all helped in some ways, but I often found myself correcting the suggested corrections.
Perhaps I had a hang up with free apps, or maybe I was too critical.
It wasn’t until my wife needed help with her professional writing that she stumbled upon an application that she said might also work for me.
When she told me that she had signed up for a three-month subscription for an online grammar checker that I could use as well, I had a change of heart once I started trying the range of tools available.
So, due to my wife’s purchase, I started using Grammarly on a daily basis over six months ago.
What I discovered when I started using Grammarly
Even though I had used the free version previously, I hadn’t fully realised what the paid option offered. With access to her subscription, I found out that Grammarly worked with everything I typed in either Safari or Chrome browsers. It meant that my Facebook and Twitter posts and replies were automatically scanned for errors. Not only that, but it also worked within my WordPress editor for my blog articles.
I investigated further and ended up downloading the desktop app, which immediately became indispensable for checking my longer form writing. I ran a few chapters of one of my already published books and was quite horrified to discover a few errors that had escaped a lot of human eyes. Not many, but enough to realise that a little extra help can go a long way.
After my wife’s three-month subscription had expired, I was convinced and bought a twelve-month subscription. I feel that although I know that I know how to write, my stumbles or laziness, especially online, are less likely to result in silly errors.
For short form online writing
Grammarly works in most browsers, but I use it predominantly with Safari, and occasionally with Chrome. Where it comes in very useful for me is when I post comments on newspapers or blogs. These are posts that I always want to ensure are error free, as making even a small spelling, or grammatical error would not reflect well on me as a writer.
With Grammarly activated, any small error is picked up, and I can correct it with one click. It has saved my bacon many times, particularly for little typos such as “teh” and “then & than” or overuse of the passive.
For my WordPress blogs, I often turn Grammarly off while writing a post, as I do not want to be distracted. But when I have finished writing, I turn it back on to conduct a full check. Once satisfied, I turn it off again, because I have noticed that it has one small glitch with WordPress. For some reason, with Grammarly activated, it overrides links within my posts that are set to open in a new tab. A small bug that I hope will be fixed in the future.
Apart from this one little annoyance, it works perfectly for all of my online writing and helps me keep my short form writing as error free as possible.
For long form writing
I don’t like distractions when I am writing a novel in Word, so I always turn off auto grammar and spellchecking, as all those red and green underlines are annoying. However, I then run a check once I have finished a chapter.
When I first started using Grammarly, I made the mistake of doing a copy and paste into the app but discovered that all my formatting was lost.
Grammarly can integrate with Word, but only for PC users. I use Apple, so, unfortunately, this facility is not available for me, but hopefully will be in the near future. To get around this, I learned that I could quickly upload my completed chapter to Grammarly and once I had finished the check, export it back in Word format without losing any of my text, font and paragraph formatting.
While Grammarly picks up almost all grammar and spelling errors, what I like the most about it for long form writing is that it finds repeated words. In long passages of text, this is something that is often difficult to notice and is a real time saver for me.
Another correction tool I find useful is one that highlights inappropriately used pronouns, or as Grammarly calls them, unclear antecedents.
Having information such as in the image above at my fingertips when doing a preliminary edit is a big timesaver. The more errors I can find and improvements I can make during my first draft saves me hours of work later on. I can now catch most of my writing errors, typos and mistakes at a much earlier stage, which leaves me more time to concentrate on the story.
Grammarly has become an essential tool for all my forms of writing. As I write a lot, I get full value from my subscription because of the amount of time it saves me between first draft and final version. Nothing will ever replace human eyes when it comes to proofreading texts, but using some intelligent online help can do a very good job in locating errors more easily and in making logical improvements to a text.
While the free version offers quite a bit of assistance and is a good way to try out some of the features of Grammarly, the paid version with its host of extra features is now an essential everyday writing tool for me.
I highly recommended this tool for writers, and especially for those who are perhaps relatively new to self-publishing.
Disclaimer: I am a paid subscriber and user of Grammarly and have expressed my own opinions about the product in this article. This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links.