If writing is part of your bread and butter, you will agree that editing requires more effort than writing itself. Imagine a life where we have to read and re-read for every missing preposition or punctuation mark, check and correct length of each sentence, horrifying! Thank heavens for editing tools.
My corporate job did not warrant extensive language editing. Therefore, it never crossed my mind to use a tool exclusively for language correction and improvement. However, as a blogger, I cannot afford to miss any chance to improve my writing. So, with this humble aim, I got a ProWritingAid premium subscription.
My initial impression of the tool? After first few days of use, I look forward to enhancing my understanding of the tool and becoming a Pro at ProWritingAid. (pun intended!)
This post about my experience of editing with ProWritingAid.
ProWritingAid v/s Grammarly
If you are used to the inbuilt functionality of a word processor or a tool like Grammarly, you will find ProWritingAid in a very different category.
This is because language correction is often used interchangeably with editing. While language check is an important part of the editing process, it is not the only one. ProWritingAid positions itself as your personal writing coach instead of a language correction tool.
If like me, you find real-time corrections distracting and have an obsession to remove the underline reds before completing the sentence, you will like ProWritingAid.
I find it productive to finish the posts first, without concerns of wrong spellings or missing articles, then editing them with ProWritingAid. It does mean making a lot of corrections at once, but it helps me focus on getting the text right.
If this approach is not your cup of tea or mug of beer, you can divide your post into parts and edit it in that order. This way you also get to assess if the output is as per your plan.
Where to start?
You can use ProWritingAid in a web editor, chrome extension, plugin for MS Word or Google docs, desktop app. My experience is based on the usage of web editor and the chrome extension.
If you are a novice user, I would recommend starting with the web editor.
However, don't try to create your article in the editor itself. You won't be able to add links or pictures, so it will mean duplicate efforts when you are ready to post. Better would be to create the post in another application or use one of the available integrations.
There are multiple ways you can review your writing. You can check writing style, grammar, readability, cliches, overused words, sentence length, etc.
For the zealous lot, it may mean a riot, for others it might be a nightmare. For me, it started as a riot but turned into a nightmare.
I figured I was wasting a lot of time on reports which did not suit my purpose. From that moment, I made a rule to run few common reports for all articles and try only one new report at a time.
Start editing with ProWritingAid
Before you start running reports, make sure you have selected the correct writing style and language in the top right-hand corner.
I always start editing with ProWritingAid by running the summary report. As the name suggests, it gives a summary of all reports of PWA. I start by making a note of all reds. Don't worry, if you get a lot of thumbs down at the beginning, just like with human editors, it takes time to understand the ‘expectations' and terminology of the tool.
If I am running short on time, I use only five reports – Style, Grammar, Readability, Sticky and Sentence.
Style report is to improve your general writing style. It checks for use of active verbs, minimal use of adverbs, repeated sentences, etc. Although I do not take all the suggestions, I do review the highlighted sentences to improve them in any way.
You cannot skip the output of Grammar report. It highlights the spelling errors, suggests sentence formation, tenses, etc. Along with the standard rules, it also had additional checks based on input by PWA's copy editors.
Readability report measures the Flesch Reading Ease Score for your text. It gives an overview and highlights difficult to read paragraphs. The results are color coded. Green is for easy to read, yellow for slightly difficult to read and red for difficult to read paragraphs. Unless you have a lot of reds in your text, you need not worry at all. Some days it is more important to be creative than simple.
The Sticky Sentence Report highlights the sentences with glue words – words which are adding to the number, not to the meaning. It is not possible to eliminate all these sentences from your writing, but a huge number is certainly a red flag you should avoid.
Sentence length report is very important to ensure that your writing is not mundane and complex. It is a visual representation of the length of the sentences in the text. Whenever I have spent time on results of this report, I have seen improvements in the way I articulate my ideas.
Bonus tip: Ctrl+Shift+E is the shortcut for word explorer. It is quite helpful to avoid writer's block and to play around with words.
Although I don't harbor any aspirations to become one of the greatest writers, I do want to improve with every attempt. As a language purist, it is of utmost importance to me. And I think editing with ProWritingAid will definitely help me improve at every step.
How was your first experience of using ProWritingAid? Let us know in comments.
Edit: Need tips on using ProWritingAid? Read our cheat sheet here.