I am a writer and editor at heart. Writing is a tough job, though. It can be a thankless task and at times frustrating, especially when the dreaded writers’ block hits. And some editors can be ruthless – delighting in marking up a writer’s handiwork with an unforgiving red pen.
Despite the pain of seeing your work marked up, editing is a crucial part of the writing process. Sometimes writers can be so enmeshed in a piece, that they miss a mistake or fail to properly clarify a concept because they’ve simply read a piece too many times. Copyeditors provide fresh eyes to tweak content and perfect the groundwork on which writers have labored.
Personally, I love editing pieces from good writers. I admire their talent and am proud to contribute my own skill and add to their work. For that same reason, I dislike editing writing that hasn’t undergone even the slightest spellcheck.
In a previous blog post, I discussed how companies should use content marketing to contribute, not contaminate:
“Using proper grammar and spelling is one of the easiest things to do correctly, but so often we see silly mistakes in online content. Not only is proper grammar a reflection on the professionalism and high standards of your company, it also makes for an easier read for your target consumer.”
One of the first things a writer should do before sending a piece off to an editor is check for basic spelling and grammar issues. An editor’s main role is to check content flow and the ability of a writer to convey concepts to readers. That task is made more difficult when editors are bogged down correcting pesky spelling errors.
That said, I realize that grammar is not everyone’s cup of tea. Luckily, there are editing apps that writers can use when a piece is ready for review:
Grammarly is an app that corrects spelling and grammar both online and offline in real time. It searches for context clues and thus is able to conduct a more comprehensive review of a piece of content than a simple spellcheck.
I decided to turn off the online version because I found that it slowed down my browser and I didn’t feel a particular need for Grammarly on email. However, it could be beneficial for someone who needs to send out emails very quickly.
(Note for serious grammar nerds: Be warned that Grammarly opts for the Oxford comma, even though their written handbook explains that the Serial comma is optional. Choose to leave it in or take it out, as long as you are consistent.)
The Hemingway App
The Hemingway App is perfect for writing content such as blog posts, book chapters or case studies. It focuses more on readability than on spelling or grammar. Color-coders rejoice in this app because Hemingway conveniently breaks down different readability errors by color. It covers adverbs, passive voice, run-on sentences, and more. Using this app is like having a writing coach looking over your shoulder and letting you know how you’re doing and whether a reader will be able to understand and appreciate your work or not.
If you think having your work highlighted would be distracting to the writing process, you can always write in Word and then copy and paste over once you’re finished. That’s what I would recommend.
These two apps can be lifesavers for anyone who writes (or edits!) customer-facing content. Give them a try and let me know what you think!