Tag Archives: spellcheck

Tool as Discipline

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I use several tools to help my writing, from simple spellcheck to ht power of Grammarly. I don’t consider them tools just for finding problems – I think of them as tools for learning. This might be an approach that works for you as well.

English is an odd language, and it’s easy to make mistakes when we’re spelling knife with “k,” and people argue about commas (Oxford always). There are also different ways to write about separate subjects, and lessons in one don’t always carry over to others. Even a writer with good editors is facing several challenges unless you write all the time.

Books can help and should be used, but writing is something best learned by doing. So that’s where tools come in – they’re my obstacle course.

Tools like Grammarly and spellcheck show what I’m doing wrong immediately. As I’m writing, mistakes come up, and I catch myself. Each revealed mistake is a pinprick reminder of my errors, and I get into the habit of looking for them.

I become aware conscious of my problems. Then I start seeking them before I make them. This effort develops new, better habits.

I also run checks on documents – I don’t write everything in Grammarly or with every single checker turned on for the sake of sanity. When the same error keeps appearing, I stop and start looking for it on my own. If I keep making recognizable mistakes, then I can learn to see them earlier.

A pattern makes itself apparent. I repair it on my own before counting on the tool. By fixing the same problem multiple times, I learn more about my flaws and address them.

By using tools as learning experiences, I’ve improved my writing over the last two years. It requires a conscious decision, but it may help you as well.

(Yes, I’m serious enough about my writing I pay for Grammarly. I recommend it if you’re serious about your writing.)

Steven Savage