To Err Is Human; To Edit, Divine
Grammarly: Upgrade Your Writing
I'm a naturally skeptical person on a tight budget with no room for impulse subscriptions.
Any software I buy must past a rigorous, three-step system before earning my credit card number.
- I must like it enough to use it more than once.
- I must use it enough to add it to my "Quick Access" folder.
- I must love it so much it migrates from the "Quick Access" folder to my dock or desktop. Then, and only then, will I buy.
Grammarly skipped steps one and two the moment I read a draft and thought, "Wow, this is way better than what I had." Click here to see for yourself.
Grammarly has helped me craft everything. Academic essays, cover letters, product and service copy, business plans, marketing plans, articles for every occasion, lengthy social media posts, make-or-break emails, video synopses, short stories, my still-in-progress novels, and even melancholy 2 AM poetry. If it involves words, it involves Grammarly.
What I Love
Fundamentally, I don’t only love Grammarly for its on-page functionality; I love Grammarly for its real-world impact on my writing process. It's changed the steps I go through between inception and publication.
I love the assistant’s little one-liners. They consistently bring joy (and dopamine) while motivating me to tackle another problem instead of taking a break.
I love that Grammarly eased so much of my "send" anxiety. I used to reread everything several times before hitting send/publish (I still do). Then I’d press the button. Then I’d read it over and over again, inevitably finding simple errors and passages that I could tactfully paraphrase (this is now a rare occurrence).
After using Grammarly, I noticed my hands stopped sweating (metaphorically and literally) in the 30 minutes before and after the whoosh of outgoing mail.
I love the start-of-doc goal setting. This little (and optional) pop-up does two things. First, it informs Grammarly, leading to better edits. Second, it orients your train of thought, changing what and how you write, both before and during the editing process.
I LOVE the fact that Grammarly renews my perspective on something I’ve only just written. It feels like I’m reading with fresh eyes whenever text moves between word processors. I’ve saved literal days previously spent leaving content to marinate. With Grammarly, I simply copy and paste, take a short walk, and it feels like content I haven’t already read thirty times. To be fair, I’m not sure this has to do with Grammarly. It may just be the case that, in a different layout, my eyes interpret pixels differently.
As great as this extension is, you should still give yourself time to deeply process a piece of writing before calling it a final draft.
I especially love the organizational depth introduced in the latest update. Instead of just explaining what rule was broken, Grammarly tells you how that error translates to your readers’ experience. It does this by categorizing mistakes into correctness, clarity, delivery, and engagement. The editor pinpoints what you could do better. In turn, this lets you rewrite a passage, honing in on specific words that help and those that hinder.
Most of all, I love that, despite Grammarly doing all the heavy lifting for you, merely using the software will enhance your communication skills. It starts with the realization that you can more eloquently tell that bar story you’ve told for years. Your linguistic improvement just spirals upwards from there.
What I Hate
The absolute worst thing about Grammarly happens to be the only aversion on the list: a distinct lack of formatting. I often start writing outside Grammarly before bouncing the text back and forth as I edit. I lose all composition in the process. To mitigate this, I’ve appropriated square parentheses notes as indicators of text format ([itc] or [bld], for example). Sure, it works, but it’s far from the most efficient system for editing large blocks of formatted text. This has been my only unresolved qualm in three-ish years of using Grammarly.
(UPDATE August 2, 2019: Grammarly now supports Rich Text Formatting. There is officially nothing I don’t like about Grammarly.)
Frankly, I don’t know what happened or when, but the next problem disappeared from Grammarly and my list of concerns. I’ll share it anyways; just for fun.
Once upon a time, if you manually changed an error, instead of making the assistant’s recommended change, Grammarly would consider the error resolved and fling you down the page to the next edit.
As someone who regularly plays around with alternatives before deciding on a solution, this was infuriating. In the middle of typing a different word, my cursor would spontaneously move, leaving an edit’s butt in the middle of an unrelated paragraph.
Again, this problem isn't a problem anymore. Do what you will with that bit of information.
(UPDATE March 30, 2020: There's more thing I hate about Grammarly. It isn't integrated into every text editor on the internet, so I'm still stuck copy-pasting my content back and forth. To be fair, I won't blame the Grammarly team for this.)
Is Grammarly worth it?
I’ve given you my pros and cons of Grammarly, bringing us to the question of USD$139.95/ year ($11.66/month): is it worth it?
As far as subscriptions go, Grammarly is affordable, fitting snuggly between Spotify’s $10/month and Netflix’s $13/month, assuming you opt for Grammarly's yearly plan.
As a heavy user of Spotify and Grammarly, it's hard to say which adds more value to day-to-day life. This article was written with the help of Grammarly and a Tchaikovsky playlist, so I have trouble deciding which was more impactful. That said, will price even matter once you’re immune to explaining the same sentence more than once, accidentally using the wrong “there,” and disrupting a flow state?
To better answer the, “is it worth it” question, I have to ask you a question: what will you use Grammarly for? If your day-to-day life is alienated from writing aside from follow-up emails and tweets, then probably not. If the quality of your writing has no bearing on your quality of life, then definitely not.
Grammarly isn’t for people who just want to get things done. It’s for people who want their thoughts to be understood. Grammarly is for people who care about how they come across in our text-centric world.
I want to share this responsive software with the kinds of people who have something to gain from it. Click here to transcend spellcheck.
Like what you just read? Share it!