Have you ever noticed that when you proofread your own writing you tend to read what you meant to write rather than what you actually wrote? Yeah, that’s really frustrating.
Thankfully, there are two things you can do to combat this natural tendency:
- Wait a little while — at least an hour or two — before proofreading anything you write.
- Use Grammarly (aff).
The first item is up to you and your self-discipline. However, the second item I can help you with.
In this post, I’ll introduce Grammarly and explain why I believe every writer should be using this invaluable tool. However, before we get into that, let me tell you about how I started using Grammarly.
How I Got Started Using Grammarly
About a year ago, towards the end of 2015, I was hired by one of my regular clients to do a mix of editing and basic webmaster work.
A few months prior, this client had hired me and a handful of other writers to generate a few hundred articles worth of content. All of that content had been piling up in Asana, a project management application, and it was now time to upload all of the content to the site where it would be published.
I was hired to quickly edit each article and then upload each edited article to the WordPress website where it would be published. It was during this process that the project manager introduced me to Grammarly, and I was hooked immediately.
Today, as a freelance writer, I never submit a piece without letting Grammarly have a look at it first. It consistently catches a handful of silly errors that I’ve overlooked.
What is Grammarly?
Grammarly is an automatic online proofreading service. It checks your writing for simple mistakes such as misspelled words, misplaced commas, and the use of plural versus possessive nouns. In addition, it checks for advanced mistakes that the spell checkers built into Google Docs and Microsoft Word aren’t designed to address.
Grammarly offers both a free and a premium plan. The free plan check for 150 different issues and the premium plan adds on more than 100 additional checks, vocabulary suggestions, style checks, and a plagiarism detector.
If all you want to do is catch the stupid mistakes your eyes tend to gloss over when proofreading your own work, then the free plan will do the trick. However, if you want to use Grammarly to grow into a markedly better writer, the premium plan (aff) is a lot cheaper than taking a writing course at a local university.
How Does Grammarly Work
There are several different ways to use Grammarly. You can add it as an extension to your favorite browser — extensions are available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. You can download it as a desktop app for Windows. Or you can use the web-based Grammarly app.
Personally, there are two different ways I use Grammarly:
- Installed as an extension in Chrome.
- As a web-based app.
Let’s look at each method briefly.
Using the Grammarly Extension for Chrome
With Grammarly installed as a Chrome extension, the Grammarly icon is added to the Chrome browser. Once the extension is installed and you’ve logged into your Grammarly account, Grammarly will try to check the grammar of all of the text you type into any text area in your browser.
Mistakes will be indicated in two different ways. First, you’ll see a red underline applied to any words that Grammarly has flagged as misspelled or incorrect. Second, a small green icon will be added to every supported text input area. Clicking the icon will launch a modal window which you can use to work your way through all identified issues.
Grammarly doesn’t work with every website and app — Google Docs is one application that I’ve noticed does not play nice with Grammarly. However, it does work with most websites and applications. Right now, I’m writing this post in the WordPress post editor and Grammarly is spinning up with every word I write to check my spelling and help me avoid silly mistakes.
Using the Grammarly Web App
I do a lot of my writing in Sublime Text. While there is a spell check feature built into the application, it doesn’t hold a candle to Grammarly.
Every time I draft up a blog post or technical article in Sublime, before sending the finished product in to my editor or customer I always fire up my browser, click on the Grammarly icon, click New Document, and paste over my post from Sublime.
Then I work my way through all of the issues Grammarly locates. Once I’ve finished cleaning up the post, I copy the cleaned up content back into Sublime.
There are many other ways you can use Sublime. For instance, I know of other writers who use the Grammarly web app as their primary composition tool. The desktop application may also be a great choice, although I personally have never given it a spin.
Here’s the deal. If you’re a freelance writer who isn’t using Grammarly then you’re at a disadvantage. Your competitors are already using Grammarly and publishing fewer silly mistakes as a result.
If you’re serious about producing quality writing then using Grammarly is a no-brainer. The first time you use even the free version of Grammarly it will catch enough mistakes that you’ll wish you had started using it a lot sooner.
Ready to get started with Grammarly (aff)?