In today’s technological age, online programs and add-ons that help with writing abound. Some programs assist writers in formatting and storing projects; others aim for making grammar checking easier and faster. Those who struggle with grammar and syntax may think that these programs are the cure to their writing woes.
While writing and editing tools have their place, here’s the reality. These tools are just that, tools. The accuracy of a program’s grammar checking is only as good as the program’s algorithms and coding. When I first started using Grammarly, for instance, I noticed that I rejected or ignored most, if not all, of the recommended corrections. In truth, those “corrections” were not correct because the program was inaccurately assuming something about a word or a sentence. The program was failing to take into account the English language’s complex sentence patterns and other nuances (how words can be both nouns and verbs: “writing,” for example”).
Grammarly is not the only program to have these issues. I’ve also experimented with ProWritingAid and found similar results. For that reason, I’ve come to use these editing tools less and less or not at all. If I do use them, I only do so in the very final stages of editing, after I’ve revised and edited a project several times on my own manually.
In a recent post, Kathy Edens of ProWritingAid openly discusses how depending on an editing tool too much is detrimental to one’s writing. I give Edens and ProWritingAid kudos for advocating that manual self-editing is essential. Edens explains, “While an editing tool makes self-editing easier, it doesn’t release you from responsibility. It’s up to you to make sure every word used is correct, every sentence makes sense, and your manuscript flows easily off the tongue.”
I couldn’t agree more. Editing tools have their usefulness (such as checking for any final, minor errors at the very end of an editing process), but they are not the end all and be all of editing. If grammar checking is not your strong suit, I encourage you to use writing tools but with caution. A human editor will always be able to do a better job than an editing tool.
Please let me know your thoughts! Have you used a writing tool or add-on? If so, what success have you had in using it?