Proper grammar is good — but so is writing like you talk
I love Grammarly. I’m a premium user, and it’s brought great value to me.
But Grammarly is a self-proclaimed writing assistant. Think “spellcheck on Word, but on a lot of illegal steroids.”
It’s got a lot of well-polished features that make it such a comprehensive tool:
- An auto-detector for tone
- Recommendations for synonyms
- Tautology and passive voice detection
- Removal of adverbs and other fillers
But here’s the thing: If you write like a human that’s trying to connect with another human, Grammarly will scribble and underline all your writing.
Why? Because when we speak, we naturally have fillers, gaps, we ignore the rules of the language, and we do it very frequently — well, at least I do.
This doesn’t mean your writing is bad. I repeat, this does not mean your writing is bad.
If I put my most popular article in Grammarly right now, it has so many mistakes and flags that it defies all odds of what a good article should be by Grammarly standards.
There you go, 1,100 words that are a bit bland, mostly clear, and slightly off. An article that til this day provides value to people, I’m happy to brag.
So if you read no further, at least do this.
Type away, tell the story, and convey the idea in its raw detail without letting Grammarly influence you with continuous suggestions — you can always edit later.
This is one of the big reasons why my article did so well. I didn’t let any suggestions stomp on the butterfly before it took flight.
I didn’t do this on purpose; I just didn’t have Grammarly at the time.
But I’m a greedy blogger, I want a perfectly intact butterfly and spellcheck on steroids, so I do a few things before I go off on my writing escapades.
Three things to be precise.
They’ve helped with editing in Grammarly tremendously, and I’m confident you’ll find some value in it too.
1. Writing and Editing Are Two Separate Things
When you’re writing something, don’t go back and edit while you’re still getting the story out. The story’s more important than that clunky sentence you’re going to get back to later.
As much as Grammarly wants to be a writing assistant, it’s better used as an editing assistant.
Editing and writing are different sets of muscles — when you’re in a flow state with one, don’t invite the other to the party.
Even the blogger extraordinaire Tim Denning’s schedule involves separate days for writing and editing (this is an excellent piece by the way).
To make this distinction easier when you’re writing, turn off the Grammarly extension.
When you’re happy with what you’ve got, and you finally want to get stuck into editing, that’s when you use Grammarly.
2. Have a Clear Idea of Your Style and Tone
When you write something, the tone goes unnoticed, but when you edit on a different day with fresh eyes, you can really feel it.
When you start the edit, Grammarly will start giving you suggestions. Some are glaring mistakes in your writing (that’s why you edit), others are just the way you write or speak.
The way you write and speak is literally that creative butterfly we mentioned earlier. (OK, maybe metaphorically, sue me)
It’s great to get constructive criticism, even if it’s from an editing tool, but if you’re self-aware of your writing style and tone and a sentence comes naturally — ignore the warnings and leave it as it is.
If something sounds right, it sounds right.
Be prepared. You’ll get a lot of warnings if you’re conversational, but that might just be why your readers like reading your material.
That’s the butterfly.
3. Make It Work for You, Not the Other Way Around
I don’t know about you, but as soon as numbers and metrics are introduced to something, my analytical brain takes over and starts to neglect what actually matters.
This happened to me using Grammarly with its scoring system, it’s happened to me with the stats page on my blog, and it’s happened to me on my email newsletter — it happens.
But when you’re aware of it, you can deal with it.
You know that content is king, and once you focus on what feels right in that domain, the metrics become a tool — not a goal.
So what do I do? I re-write the objective in my head, and it goes a little something like this.
Your job is to write the best, most engaging, and most genuine copy you can — views, open rates, and perfect Grammarly scores are vanity metrics.
Put away some time to analyse these but don’t let them take over and become the goal.
Keep these three super simple concepts in your mind and you’ll prevent the software from dictating your creative process.
Keep that creative process clean, and Grammarly becomes a powerful tool to take you to the next level, just like the developers intended.
Best of luck,