There are so many online tools available and even more offline. These range from classes/courses, programmes, apps and guides. It’s almost impossible to try them all unless you want to spend a small fortune. This raises the question, how do you know where to spend your money? How do you know which ones work best?
Personally, I found reviews to be a huge help when trying to figure out whether or not to buy a product. Reading thoughtful reviews is a great way to find out if something might be a good fit for you. It doesn’t tell you exactly, but it’s certainly a good way to slim down the ever growing list of products on the market.
I’ve made a point this year of trying to remember to review products more, as considering how often I turn to reviews when deciding what to buy I’m terrible at remembering to give them myself. With that in mind, I’ve decided to write a series of blogs reviewing certain products available for writers. These will be products that I have purchased myself and have been using for some time. None of these blogs is sponsored content; I am not being paid for this, I’m just sharing honest reviews for products I like.
Today’s product is…..
Anyone who’s been following me for any length of time will probably have heard me mention (more than once) that I am dyslexic. It’s something that I’ve dealt with since I was born and while it can be unbelievably frustrating at times, I knew from a young age that it wasn’t going to stop me from doing what I wanted. I got myself through school, college, and university, I am a published writer and am well on my way to becoming a qualified legal executive (only seven months to go) and am developing my own business.
So screw your dyslexia.
But, that being said, I only managed what I have because of the help I had, a lot of help. The support and love of friends and family have been unbelievably helpful; I cannot put it into words and for a writer and a chatterbox that’s saying something. But all the love and support in the world won’t make my spelling, grammar and reading any better.
But a spellchecker does!
Back at school a spellchecker was a tiny computer that sat on my desk next to me, and when I got stuck I could put a word (or what I thought was a word) into the little thing and poof it made the jumble of letters make sense. It was a great help but a far cry from perfect. You see these type of checkers only helped if you knew you had made a mistake and most of the time I had no idea I had made an error, my brain simply did not see the mistake. Then came desktop computers (Holy crap I feel old)and with desktop computers came Word and more importantly it’s spell check tool. At the time this was amazing; suddenly my writing was making sense! But it still wasn’t perfect, as Word spell check is good but not amazing, it was still missing a lot of grammar errors, and half the time it didn’t know what to make of the jumble of letters I thought were words.
Then came Grammarly.
Grammarly is a great spellchecker. It’s easy to use and can easily be incorporated into your computer when working from home or laptop. But you can still use it on days you’re not on your machine by simply logging in to the website.
What I Like
Its user-friendly interface couldn’t be simpler. You either download it onto your machine and then click the “enable Grammarly” icon that appears in your writing programme and poof off you go. Or you can copy paste your writing into the online site and poof off you go again.
One of my favourite aspects of Grammarly is that it appears everywhere! It’s not limited to my Word programme, it pops up in my emails, on my Facebook, and any social media platform, anywhere I have the opportunity to type something the little green G is waiting for me. The green G makes sure I type their instead of there, reminding me that commas exist and pointing out when I’ve typed helol instead of hello.
I love that it doesn’t automatically correct me either. I have to go through the corrections Grammarly suggests and tell the programme that those corrections are what I want, or tell it “uh, no you’ve got the wrong end of the stick there Grammarly,” It does get the wrong end of the stick sometimes. By going through manually I feel like I am learning, I’m seeing where I consistently go wrong and learning from it. My writing has improved dramatically since I started using Grammarly.
Grammarly also sends you weekly reports; this tells you basic stats like how much you wrote that week and compares you to others using the programme. It also tells you your most common mistakes and says why they are mistakes. A pet peeve of mine is someone telling me I’m wrong but not saying why, so this makes me happy.
Grammarly is FREE! I’m not talking a free trial, I mean free, forever. There are two versions of Grammarly, the free version that allows you to test it out for as long as you like but doesn’t give you access to all the features, and the premium version that provides you with access to all the features for an annual or monthly fee. I treated myself to the premium version last Christmas after using the free version for a year. Being an enthusiast for spell checkers I was very pleased with the free option, I’ve spent good money on checkers both those that are specially designed for people with dyslexia and those that are not, and I have been disappointed a lot when these checkers do not live up to their claims. So having a free option to use for as long as I liked before considering an upgrade was a strong selling point for me.
What I Don’t Like
It’s not perfect.
Sorry to say but it’s not. I mentioned above that you have to go through manually to approve changes and sometimes Grammarly gets confused. More often than not it hits the mark for me, but sometimes it doesn’t.
It doesn’t always explain itself. Sometimes it will tell you why your sentence or word is wrong but not always. Sometimes it will give you examples of what it thinks you should type, it will give you options to select, but sometimes it doesn’t. This irritates me, as I said above I hate being told I’m wrong but not being told why. I accept that I will make mistakes (a lot of mistakes) pride is something I tend to leave at the door when it comes to spelling, I know I’m dyslexic, and I appreciate spell checkers (or people) telling me when I’ve made an error. But I hate it if I can’t understand why and sometimes Grammarly will leave me scratching my head wondering why my sentence or word is wrong.
In conclusion, I like this programme, and I happily spent money on the premium version and am still happy six months later that I made that choice. Grammarly is easy to use and makes me sound like a competent person (sometimes at least), it sneaks in and helps me in places where I don;t expect it to, like Facebook and social media and improves the quality of my writing. But that being said it isn’t perfect, it doesn’t always have a clear explanation as to why it’s making the suggestions it is, and sometimes it will make suggestions that make no sense.
Overall I would recommend this product, but try the free version for a while first, see if it suits you. I hope you find it as useful as I have!