Tools I Use To Instantly Improve My Writing
Hello, my name is Rachel and I like to write.
I like to write so much that I spend hours a day, just writing away. I write like my life depends on it – because it does.
As a journalist, copywriter and a freelance writer, I spend almost every waking moment writing. It is not the fun-est job, but it pays the bills. Therefore, if you want to be like me – not a doctor, lawyer, engineer or a disappointment to your parents, try these tools that I use to help me write better.
When I was writing essays in school, my issue was with spelling. Sometimes, I write too fast with my ‘cakar ayam’ (or chicken-scratch) handwriting and end up missing one or two letters in the middle of a seven or eight-letter word. Sometimes I even mix up my spelling, like ‘trail’ and ‘trial’, both of which have totally different meanings.
When I moved on to writing on the keyboard, my issue was with typos (spelling mistakes). While it is good practice to always reread your full text a few times before handing it in, it is a challenge when you are pressed for time. And if you are suggesting skimming and scanning the piece, you’ll likely miss the mistakes too.
Then, I found Grammarly!
You could use it for free if you need it for thorough spellchecking and they’ll give you suggestions on how you can structure your sentences better. If you subscribe to their premium service, Grammarly will highlight faulty tenses, misplaced words and use of punctuations.
All I have to do is copy the text and drop it into the Grammarly website. Within a few seconds, the suggestions for corrections will appear, and you can just select a specific word to edit.
Plus, if you think you’ve been repeating a word too many times in a paragraph, you can double click, and voila, you’ll have a list of synonyms to choose from!
When I am writing website content, social media posts (non-personal ones) and articles, it is crucial to have your text written in a way the general public can understand. If I use flowery, bombastic words throughout my text, readers might just get put off by how unintelligent they feel, because they probably have to Google the word to find out what it means.
That is not my objective. I want to inform people, not shun them away because I want to show off my top SAT vocab.
This is when the Hemingway App comes handy.
Copy and drop your text onto the site at the Hemingway website and they will grade you according to readability. If your text is understandable for a sixth-grader, your text will be identified as good. If many complicated words make up a complex sentence, the readability may increase a few grades, which is not very good. The app will identify the complicated word or sentence so you can make necessary changes that will help your reader understand your writing better.
I don’t use the thesaurus for all writing projects, but it is like a best friend you always need close-by. Unlike the first two tools that I use post-writing, I use the thesaurus as I am writing. My usual haunts are Thesaurus.com where I scour alternatives to basic adjectives like ‘walk’, ‘say’ and more. If you are writing to a younger crowd, Urban Dictionary is a good alternative too. I mean, somebody actually submitted the phrase ‘Watermelon Sugar’ – go read it and have a chuckle.
Being Malaysian, I sometimes know what something is called in the Malay language, but can’t figure out what that word is in English. That is when Google Translate comes in, with several variations of a word you could not seem to find the translation and its synonym to.
As the name suggests, this free mobile app is to help me get focused on my writing. BeFocused follows the Pomodoro technique that breaks down work into intervals. You start with a 25-minute work time and a five-minute break after. However, if you don’t think this timing works for you, you can change it to a work-break interval that works for you. Since I work on several projects at once, I usually set it to either 25 or 45 minutes and give myself either a five or 15-minute break after.
Breaks are important to recalibrate the brain!
One more reason why I use this app instead of the other apps available on the Apple Store and the Google Play Store – it’s free!
So there you have it, the four sidekicks that help me out in my writing on the daily. It helps reduce the time I commit to a specific project and enables me to send cleaner copies to my clients. Try it out, and if this works for you, share these tools with a friend!
But wait, before you click out of this page, why not use these tools to write your own piece for Crunch by Nuffnang?