“There’s always room for improvement.”
Whatever you’re interested in, there’s always something that you can improve on or learn in more detail. If there was nothing new to learn, that thing you’re interested in would quickly become boring and would soon turn into something very uninteresting to you. Let’s take writing for example. There are always ways you can be a better writer. There are always going to be skills you can brush up on or words you can practice using in different sentences. The thing to identify though, is that you can improve, even if you think you’re amazing at what you do.
I think I’m a pretty good writer – I really enjoy doing it, but I am also well aware that there is an awful lot to learn. No one knows everything. I’m always open to learning new things, and just sometimes, the wonderful world of the internet allows us to do this for free. It’s all about knowing where to look.
I’ve done the research and used these tools for my writing either currently or in the past. They are great little helpers to keep in mind while you’re writing, and if there’s a teeny tiny thing you’re not sure about, hopefully one of these points will help you on your way.
Grammarly is a free online grammar checker. If you’re a bit of a grammar Nazi like I am, you’ll feel my pain when you read a sentence with the wrong “there” or the wrong “your”.
You can either copy and paste your text into Grammarly, which will then put that pesky red squiggly line underneath anything that looks a bit out of place, or you can add it to your browser’s toolbar. This tool not only scans your text for typos or grammatical errors, but it also explains any rules you should be following or reasons why a piece of punctuation should go in a particular place. Juicy!
Be aware though; if you’re a UK user, it can try and correct your words to Americanised spellings!
This one is my most recent discovery. I had the app version installed on my last phone; you know, that app you never use and ‘aren’t allowed’ to get rid of. It just sat there awkwardly for two years, only to be clicked on accidentally.
However! Today is a new day. After trying out Todoist on my laptop, I can’t fault it. It’s a way of organising your life, or for me, my writing, allowing you to create task lists and projects. You can give each task a completion date and you can view all your tasks in the calendar. Be careful though, you may find yourself setting more tasks than you need! It’s a little addictive…
A bit of an annoying feature is that you have to pay to add comments to your tasks. It doesn’t bother me though as I have no use for comments. If you’re simply using it as a task list, I don’t think you’ll need to either! 🙂
Perfect for word sprints and something that will be incredibly useful for me during NaNoWriMo is Wordcounter. This tool simply counts words. Hang on, hang on, let me finish! Think about your NaNoWriMo word counts. Keeping up with daily word counts can make or break your challenge, so knowing where you are is extremely helpful. It can keep track of your activity and how many words you write each day.
The tool also helps you out with your keywords – if you’re targeting a specific topic or are just simply curious, you can see what you’ve achieved in the side bar. There are so many things you can measure, so having a look yourself and having a play around is definitely recommended.
I wasn’t going to include this one initially but it won’t hurt! I use Google Docs religiously. It doesn’t necessarily improve your writing, but it’s a free way to store and organise all your documents and images online. It’s also a favourite of mine as it saves your work as you go; no chance of losing anything!
If for any reason you want to work on a novel or project without your usual laptop, you can simply log into your account from anywhere with an internet connection and have full access to all your files. Hurrah!
Had to end on this one, it didn’t half give me a laugh! Cliche Finder. The finder of cliches. No, really, it’s an actual free writing tool.
The website is basic. VERY basic. But, if you’re one of these people who thinks using cliche after cliche in every novel you write is fine, this is just the thing for you. (Also, how many more times can I say cliche? …cliche.)
This tool allows you to paste your text into a box to see if it’s overly cliched. If you’re unsure about it, visit the site and run a check on the example it gives you. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to just plop one into your writing!
There we have it – a few little gems I’ve found useful recently. I’d definitely give them all a try to see if they work for you. If they don’t, at least you know about them and can recommend them to a friend in need!
If you’re not using Google Docs, I’d recommend that’s where you start. Using a Word Doc simply isn’t safe enough for big projects. Don’t risk your entire life’s work being lost by a failure to save. It’s just not worth it!
I’d also recommend that you read the work of other people too. You can easily improve your own writing by seeing what works well in other books of a similar genre. Grab a few books from the library or spend a little cash if you have some handy 🙂
Do you use any different free online tools to improve your writing? If so, let me know and I’ll try them out 🙂