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Grammarly Writing Hacks for Better Blogging

Writing is learning. It's taken me about thirty years to realize the metacognitive power of written expression, the same amount of time it took for me to recognize that my writing skills suck. Apparently, time in composition class was spent daydreaming and making silly faces at girls. Today, each post is an exercise of will power, unlearning and relearning prepositional phrases, comma usage, and when to use the ever-popular semicolon. Two hundred posts into my blogging adventure I've picked up a few tricks that add efficiency to my writing, things that make me appear smarter than I really am.


  1. Discover your voice
  2. Build social connections
  3. Acquire valuable feedback
  4. Become self-disciplined
  5. Write faster and more efficiently

Writing with intent to learn is the mindset to lead with. Using the right tools permits scatterbrains like me to focus on the message rather than unlearned, or long-forgotten, writing mechanics. The following, frequently used, hacks have helped me overcome writing deficiencies and open doors to deeper thinking through blogging.

Grammarly is my indispensable online writing coach and proofreader! Think of Grammarly as a grammar-checker with superpowers. A helpful, free version is available, however, I gladly pay the fifty-percent discounted rate of $5.83 per month to access an array of tools no writer, particularly one as unskilled as me, should compose without. 

Grammarly scans text searching for spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and style errors. Identified errors are highlighted within the text, and detailed flash cards provide suggestions for corrective measures. My holiday wish is for the Grammarly elves to integrate a bibliography and citation engine. 

For the previously stated, obvious reasons, I have Grammarly's vocabulary enhancement setting turned ON. Grammarly identifies repetitive words and unclear meaning. I also have the plagiarism detection tool activated. Teachers can upload or copy suspicious submissions into the web application to check for unauthorized copying against nearly ten billion online documents.


Since I compose primarily within Blogger, I find Grammarly's Chrome extension to be especially convenient. My productivity foundation is in G-Suite, which isn't supported by Grammarly. However, since the application is browser based, I can compose in Blogger then copy and paste into other Google productivity apps. Grammarly works well as a Microsoft Office enhancement tool. 

I've recognized improvement in my written vocabulary because Grammarly has an easy-to-use dictionary and thesaurus tool. Finally, Grammarly sends me weekly reports providing comparative statistics about my writing frequency, mechanical errors, and vocabulary improvement. Tracking writing improvement is the type of formative feedback we strive to provide for our students.



A longitudinal review of my blog posts shows documented improvement in writing mechanics, vocabulary, and style. As others have said, there is no substitute for the hours of practice needed to become a more proficient writer. Having a co-pilot like Grammarly keeps my focus on the substance and tone of the written message. Publishing to wider audiences invites additional feedback from targeted readers. More than any other professional learning activity, blogging supports my digital literacy, social interaction, and reflection. Are you using blogs to advance learning? If so, share a hack that raises your blogging game.


References



7 Ways You Can Become a Better Writer. (2016, September 07). https://www.grammarly.com/blog/7-ways-you-can-become-a-better-writer/

5 Ways Blogging Can Make You a Better Writer. (2009, January 27). http://www.problogger.net/5-ways-blogging-can-make-you-a-better-writer/

How to Improve Your Writing in 10 Quick Lessons. (2016, December 20). http://ajjuliani.com/improve-writing-10-quick-lessons/

Duffy, J. (2016, March 07). I Improved My Writing With Grammarly, and So Can You. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2500412,00.asp

About Us | Grammarly. (n.d.). https://www.grammarly.com/about


photo credit: barnimages.com Business still life via photopin (license) 

Comments

Robert Linde said…
An ordinary spell check will catch obvious errors, but does not check for context, so that if you use "knight" instead of "night" it won't catch it because both are correctly spelled words. Online grammar checkers read whole sentences, not just words. See more funny grammer mistakes
Tara Dye said…
I didn't think of using grammarly for my blog checking, I have used it for grad school, not I have my Father-In Law English Teacher proof my blog posts for me! Maybe when he gets tired of me asking for help I will have to check back into grammarly.
Bill Ferriter said…
Hey Pal,

First, I totally dug this. Learned a lot about Grammarly -- and particularly like the writing feedback that it generates for you. That would be motivating to me -- and my guess, to novice writers who often doubt their ability to create coherent pieces worth reading.

Putting that in my bag of tricks.

Now for my blogging hack: I believe that it is important for any writer to have a regularly scheduled time set aside for writing. For me, it's Saturday (or occasionally Sunday) mornings between 6:30 and 8:30 AM.

Because I have that time blocked out on my calendar -- and because it is now a routine that I almost never veer from -- I'm writing every week without scrambling to find time to write.

Sometimes, bloggers leave their blogging time to chance. "When I find something good to write about, I'll sit down and do it," they say.

The hitch is that in the flow of everyday life, that rarely happens. We might be able to scrape 20 minutes together out of a busy day -- but 20 minutes leaves us feeling rushed. The result is we never hit the publish button because we are embarrassed with the quality of what we've created.

Sometimes, people tell me that they are shocked that I have two hours set aside. "I could NEVER find that much time to write," they say.

My pushback is like your opening statement: Writing is reflection. So when we say, "I could NEVER find that much time to write," we are REALLY saying, "I could NEVER find that much time to reflect."

That's a harder argument to make.

Anyway...hope your new year is off to a great start,
Bill
Robert Schuetz said…
Thank you, Bill.
Like you, I have established a routine for reflective writing. My current challenge is focusing my efforts on a single location. I have gotten caught up writing for several different organizations. At times, this has diluted my satisfaction with the writing. While my technique has improved over time, I don't want to lose my edge, nor the pleasure I get from posting to "our" space.
Bob

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