I recently wrote a post about my experiences with a teacher in High School who seemed hell-bent on giving me bad advice regarding my dream of being a writer. I must say I have been blown away by the private messages I have since received from my readers, many of which have also been from teachers, saying how much you all believe in my decision to power through the criticism and go for gold. Can I just say a huge thank you to everyone who has written to me, as your encouragement means more to me then I can ever put into words!
But this was not why I wrote the post. As heartfelt and wondrous as your comments are (and believe me, I am truly grateful!) my aim with The teacher that told me ‘no’! was to inspire others by my story. There seems to be a common stigma in our world that writers have to be linguistic and grammatical geniuses and always know exactly where every comma goes. And it simply isn’t true. As much as I have found negative responses to my dyslexia, I have also found that people are more likely to ask me how to spell something because I am a writer.
But do the two things necessarily go hand in hand? Well, to some extent, yes, but for me, I would not want any budding writer who just failed a spelling test to be put off…and here’s why….at the end of the day, spelling doesn’t really matter when it comes to writing your story. All the editing, grammar checking, etc comes at the end. Whilst not wanting to paint the wrong images of editors and proofreaders, there are people out there who can help with the technical side of writing later on. To some extent, its what they get paid to do.
In the meantime, it’s still possible to write publication worthy content by yourself with the use of editing software. Enter Grammarly, my number one tool for correcting silly mistakes and continuing my self-improvement through highlights and red underlines.
Personally, I use Grammarly to check all of my work as it gives me that extra piece of mind that not only is what I have written legible but that I haven’t mistakenly put the wrong ‘there, their, they’re…’. This software helps me to ensure my writing is up to standard but it always offers a suggestion rather than a correction. As silly as this sounds, the fact that it does this makes me feel better, as it is encouraging me to think for myself, to learn from my mistakes and not just putting down what I have done wrong.
There always seems to be an argument for and against dyslexic people using correcting software as some academics argue that it makes the mind lazy, thus prohibiting improvement. Whilst others ask why you wouldn’t use it if it helps get the desired end result. I have to say I agree with both these claims. Whilst I love this software and the reassurance it provides me in knowing that my work is professional and well stated, I never allow myself to get lazy with my writing. I’ve mentioned this before, but I never just click on a correction before I first try to see and correct my error on my own. And this is one of the great things about Grammarly. Not only does it highlight mistakes but it hides the suggestions, allowing you the option of self-correcting before clicking on the possible solutions. This is fabulous for dyslexics as it gives us the chance to think, learn and grow.
Whilst no single blog post can possibly cover all the benefits of this programme, there are a few key points I would like to cover:
Chrome Extention – For years before Grammarly came about I would check my e-mails in a generic Word programme before sending them. This involved writing out my text and then copying and pasting it into the programme, correcting it and then transferring it back. To be honest, it was rather a bother. With Grammarly however, they have a fantastic extension for your web browser which allows you the advantage of having Grammarly check everything you type online – from comment sections to social media updates and e-mails – Grammarly have you covered.
A Word Processor in its Own Right – If like me you have to type certain things directly into a word processor, you will know that not all of these programmes are created equal. And I am not just talking about the auto-correct.
When trying to concentrate on a specific piece of writing, I like my window to be as distraction-free as possible, and we all know how annoying it can be to have a taskbar full of buttons, font options, page counts, etc when all we really want is some no-nonsense writing time. Writers and authors, in particular, will understand this. Sometimes its best just to be able to write and ignore what is wrong with your manuscript.
This is one of the main factors I like about Grammarly – It’s simple to use, clean looking, streamline, distraction-free, and if you want to, you can hide the correction suggestions as you type and turn them on at the end. Voila!
The Ability to Import and Export – When I was still a novice with this program, I would either type directly into the Grammarly word processor or copy and paste my text from Word, if I was working on something that had to be formatted and laid out a specific way. However, this did cause issues as I always had to re-format once the correcting was done, which was frankly a bit of a pain.
However, this was due to my own ignorance (blissfully corrected a while ago now I am thankful to say) and in true fact, Grammarly offers a way to make programs such as Word work with its own platform. Not only can you download a plug-in for Grammarly to correct whilst working in Word but you can import documents to the platform via the home screen and once you are done export them again as a Word document. This means that your formatting stays as it should but you have the lovely shine of a Grammarly check piece of writing.
Dictionary and Internet Jargon – One of the biggest factors that rise Grammarly above other wordprocessors is its up-to-date dictionary. It understands Facebook, Instagram and text speak like LOL, OMG or TGIF. And it will correct to the actual capitalizations for these modern terms that regular processors just try to correct with Queens English. It also knows celebrities, pop-culture and a variety of foreign words that might be used in an English piece of writing.
Another thing I know I love and I am sure every fiction writer out there will adore too is that Grammarly allows you to add words, ie names of characters, etc to its dictionary, thus taking away the annoyance of having to skip over corrections every time your hero’s name appears.
Audience and Writing goals – This feature is another key for writers who use many voices in their work. And by voices I mean those writers like myself whom produce academic, social, fiction and corporate styles of writing, with different audiences and writing goals.
Grammarly has a fabulous tool for this which you can set to open with every new document you create. It offers the option to select your audience type, the formality of your writing and the niche it is for, and then will tailor its correction suggestions to these requirements.
Plagiarism Checker – Try as we might, even the best of us can unwittingly fall into this trap. However, with Grammarly, it is really easy and simple to double check your student work or latest researched article for any sentences too close to the source material you used to write it.
This feature is part of the paid package, however, I would highly recommend it to any professional or university student in order to prevent a red face or rejected piece of work. The good news is, writing tools and software are tax deductible, so its really a good investment for your career.
Other Cool Features – It’s easy to use and install, quick to check documents, upload, and export. And is distraction free. What more could you want?
For me, Grammarly will always be a part of my writing arsenal due to the convenience and ease of working with it. I also love the fact that you don’t necessarily have to buy it as the free software is by far superior to others available to download. But more then the value of the software itself (cheaper than the majority of its competitors) there are benefits to this program that rarely ever get shouted about. And those are the self-confidence you gain from using it, the professionalism not just of the program but of how it can help your work appear, the consistency and ability to improve your work and writing through learning by suggestion not fault. Not only this but Grammarly offers weekly insights into your writing and prevents overwhelm by reducing clutter on the screen, so you can just focus on getting your work done and improving as you go.
I personally don’t know what I would do without Grammarly and I really enjoy using it every day. I do recommend it for writers and students alike, especially anyone looking to keep their self-publication cost down or wanting to have the consistency of voice in projects. But above all, to anyone like myself, who is dyslexic. Not since downloading Grammarly, have I been beset by the fear of applying for a writing job and wondering if I have made a stupid mistake that could cost me an opportunity, and that my friends is my one and only reason for using this software.