March 4, 2016—Like public speaking, a common phobia many people share is the fear of writing. Adding words to a blank page can be very intimidating whether you’re an aspiring or professional writer, or anyone who needs to compose an email, letter, term paper or a post on social media.
Today’s technology offers tools that will not only calm your fear but also make you a better writer. Here are three of my favorites:
1. Both Microsoft Word and Outlook have a built-in writing tool known as the Flesch-Kincaid Scale that takes the spelling and grammar feature to the next level. Along with count and average readings, the scale offers a readability test that shows you how difficult your words are to understand. It grades your work on a scale of 0-100 (the higher the better with a score of 60 to 70 the most desirable for the average reader). The scale also gives you the percent of passive sentences in your copy, since the more active your writing is the more readable it becomes. I aim for a score of 15 percent or less whenever I use it, but I’ve reached my real goal if 0 percent pops up in that area. The Flesch-Kincaid Scale for this article, for example is shown below:
2. grammarly.com offers a handy plug-in tool that you can download to your desktop so you can check spelling and grammar and improve your writing. Their basic service is free and is available either by the plug-in or by copying and pasting text at their site. See example below. Or, you can pay for their premium feature that offers helpful tips, suggestions and more. Plans start at $11.66 per month.
3. Another tool, known as the Hemmingway App, is by far my favorite because it actually makes editing fun. The Hemmingway App is an editor that points out potential problems in your writing by highlighting adverbs, passive voice and dull, complicated words—which Hemmingway despised—with a rainbow of colors and easy to follow advice and explanations. Download it to any PC or MAC for a one-time fee of only $9.99.