How a Writing Tool Can Help You Write Better

Today’s post is by Hayley Milliman.

I started writing when I was seven years old. My first stories were ghost stories, carefully crafted and meticulously printed in small three-ring binders.

As I grew up and moved on to different topics, my love for writing grew too. What didn’t come along, however, was a desire to make sure my writing was perfect.

In many ways, I’m the ultimate pantser. In my ideal world, I spend all day waiting for inspiration to strike, and when it finally does, I write and I write until my fingers bleed. Then, I send off the work, without so much as a single reread.

Of course, writing this way isn’t practical, and it’s certainly not going to get you very far if you’re hoping to actually earn money from your work. As I’ve matured into a professional writer, I’ve had to build a process and structure for myself that ensures my work is not only inspired but technically correct and enjoyable to read. Part of that process includes making use of something I swore I’d never use: an editing tool.

An editing tool is like the plague to a pantser like me. For years, the last thing I wanted to do was go sentence by sentence through my own work, looking for missed commas or clunky turns of phrase.

But investing in an editing tool has truly changed and improved my writing. Now, I don’t go a day without using mine, whether on my WIP novel, my emails, or even this blog post.

Here are three reasons.

1: It Makes My Writing Stronger and More Concise

I use an editing tool called ProWritingAid, which employs state-of-the-art computer algorithms to analyze my work and point out places for improvements. ProWritingAid does this by comparing my work to the work of hundreds of thousands of other writers, so it’s not just catching my missed end punctuation but also assessing things such as sentence length and redundancy.

Since I began using ProWritingAid, my work has gotten much stronger and more concise. My writing is, without a doubt, better. I’ve been able to eliminate filler glue words such as “that” or “if” from my work—meaning I can get to the point quicker and more compellingly. I have learned to vary my word choice and language so my writing is more enjoyable to read.

Each time I open a ProWritingAid report, I learn more about my bad habits, and I have an action plan to fix them. That means the work I submit is of an infinitely higher quality.

2: It Flags When I’m Redundant or Repetitive

Every writer has her own bad habits. Mine is that I tend to be redundant in my work. I modify my nouns and verbs with other words that mean almost the same thing. For example, I recently typed “It’s absolutely essential that I speak to him,” which has more words than it actually needs, since “essential” and “absolutely essential” have the same meaning. It’s not possible for something to be a little bit essential.

ProWritingAid catches these mistakes and points them out to me as I go. In fact, as I was typing this sentence, I realized I was being redundant and edited in the moment. That’s one of the things I love most about using an editing tool—by reviewing my reports, I have started recognizing my bad habits as I write and so I don’t make the same first-draft mistakes I used to.

The program also catches my repeats, since I tend to get words or phrases stuck in my head and use them over and over again. No more describing every sunset as “hauntingly beautiful.” No more accidentally using the word family four times in the same paragraph. Variety is, after all, the spice of life—and good writing.

ProWritingAid has more than 20 different writing reports and I use all of them to make my work stronger. From finding my redundancies to highlighting repeated words to simply catching all my grammatical errors, ProWritingAid helps me be a better writer.

3: I Can Edit Where I Write

One of my biggest hesitations to making an editing tool part of my process was usability. I want to edit quickly and efficiently; I don’t want to spend hours moving text around to get it into the right place. That’s why I relied on Word’s built-in grammar and spelling check for so long… I didn’t want to waste time cutting and pasting my work to and from another place for analysis.

I now use ProWritingAid’s new add-in for MS Word (they also have add-ins for GoogleDocs, Outlook, Chrome and Scrivener) so I can edit my drafts without having to copy and paste the text back and forth. I can’t stress enough how important this saved time by cutting out a step is to me. It also means I no longer have to wait until I complete the entire draft to move on to the editing process like I used to.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, I love using an editing tool. Not only because it helps me catch mistakes as I make them, but because it’s taught me so much about my own writing tendencies. My work has gotten stronger since I started using an editing tool. Now, I just wonder why it took me so long to come around to the idea! Get ProWriting Aid here.

Do you use an editing tool? If so, which one? Share in the comments.

Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer. She loves writing content that’s engaging and informative. Bonus points if it’s about Star Wars.

 

4 Responses to “How a Writing Tool Can Help You Write Better”

  1. Priscilla Bettis January 7, 2019 at 3:15 am #

    I’m glad to hear from someone who uses ProWriting Aid. I was wondering if it was a worthwhile purchase, and it sounds like it is.

  2. Timothy Hicks January 7, 2019 at 10:24 am #

    Thanks for your review, Ms. Milliman.
    I tried ProWriting Aid a few weeks ago, and it’s helped tighten my writing.

    Timothy

  3. Anne Greening January 8, 2019 at 12:08 am #

    There are two situations in which I would find a writing aid irritating.
    The first is that, in writing my novel, I have used masses of dialogue. Of course, people do not speak in rounded sentences. Grammar often falls by the wayside; redundant adjectives, slang, abbreviations and in-words abound. And writing aids abhor dialect.
    Secondly, I have developed my own voice (or voices, depending on what I’m writing) and may deliberately break the “rules” for comic effect, or for emphasis.
    I am not decrying the use of such tools, nor do I claim that my writing is “perfect” without them – far from it!
    I’d be interested to read others’ comments about these aspects.
    Cheers!

    • Martyn January 9, 2019 at 12:09 pm #

      Dear Anne Greening – I have to agree with you. I love writing but am a neophyte, with only one little short story published. When I do write, in MS Word, the correction program keeps caning me for what I fondly imagine to be creative writing. Somehow I seem to invent new words, forget verbs and generally just have a ball. So, I’m with you on overly restrictive corrective software. Cheers – Martyn

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