This is a story about the little green circle that often turns yellow, and sometimes red. And how if you are not careful, it will steal your voice!
In my early writing “career” I had a hard time constructing articles. I rarely had grammar or spelling mistakes in my finished work. But I didn’t know how to write with clarity. I had too many unnecessary words and a hard time connecting thoughts.
Luckily, I discovered a great editing tool, Grammarly. It kept me from making spelling mistakes, helped with missing articles, and made me an overall better writer.
I never bought the premium version, but if I had time, I would pay attention to the moment in a sentence when the little yellow circle appeared. Then I would rewrite it, as many times as necessary until it was gone.
The process helped me write more fluidly and clearly, and then it became a nuisance.
Why I Stopped Using Grammarly
A few years passed and as I was writing a lot, I got better at it. Soon I was annoyed with the little yellow circle. It would say:
“Passive Voice Misuse”
Yes, I know, but what if I want passive voice misuse to be my voice. And Grammarly would be all like:
I don’t see why the word “great” is not a great word. It is exactly what it says it is. Why do I have to use a synonym like “substantial”.
When I write that the bread I baked yesterday was great, that is because it was great. It wasn’t substantial, we actually needed more for lunch. It also wasn’t exceptional, since there was nothing special about it. It was just great homemade bread.
I was still using Grammarly at this point, but I was thinking about turning it off. The reason I didn’t, was because it was easier to use it. I grew accustomed to the green grammar nazi correcting all my mistakes, and as a result, I was making more of them.
I stopped paying attention to my spelling or punctuation. Because, if I made a mistake, the red line would warn me about it and the mistake would be gone with a simple click.
Then Grammarly Simply Went Nuts
I guess I was getting too far only with the free version. One day, some months ago, Grammarly warned me with three yellow mistakes.
I thought okay, I can rewrite that. But before I did, I went to check on the information I can add, to reduce wording but include more details.
I open the doc again and Grammarly now says 6 yellow mistakes, I click on the green grammar monster and out of nowhere it says:
“We found 13 additional writing issues”
Oh did you now, and where did you look? In my other files as well?
I mean, what is enough is enough. I turned it off and now I am writing this very article, without greenies help.
Grammarly Seems Kind, but It Will Steal Your Voice!
I usually don’t care about conspiracy theories, but this one is mine. Just don’t spread it too far, okay? Otherwise, they will know we know. They are stealing our writing voices!
No, seriously, this is where Grammarly falls short. And honestly, I am glad it does. Otherwise, writers would be quickly replaced by bots who could have their own programmed voices. A nightmare.
If I was starting all over again, I wouldn’t use Grammarly again, even though some of the Upwork projects actually demanded freelancers to be proficient at it.
Proficient at using a grammar-checking bot? Seriously?
Anyway, as I said, I wouldn’t use it again. And I wouldn’t advise you to use it either.
Why? Because you need your own writing voice. It will make your writing unique. Your voice is who you are but translated into words on paper or a screen.
It is why some people will hate your writing and others will love it. Your voice is going to make someone cry and smile. It is the embodiment of your personality and experience.
However, you don’t get a voice when you start writing, it doesn’t work that way. You have to find it. I don’t think it is something you have to “build”, it might seem crazy, but I think you already have your writing voice, everyone does.
It is somewhere deep inside your mind, lurking in the shadows, waiting to be found in the early morning hours when the rest of the world sleeps.
You have to find it. I think it doesn’t work the other way around.
And that is why Grammarly does more harm than good. It teaches you to write like everyone else, and that is disastrous. If everyone were writing in the same way then what would we call creativity? A grammatical mistake?
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes, and Find Your Writing Voice
Don’t use any kind of software to help you write. You have to figure out how to write, and how to do it well.
Then, after hundreds of articles, you will write for fractions of a low-average rate, you will finally see it. It will come alive right in front of you. You will see yourself in the words you are using, in the construction of sentences, in all the little mistakes, intentional or not.
You will find your voice. And when you do, don’t leave it. If a client doesn’t like your voice or they want you to write in a different way, don’t do it.
I mean, obviously, if you are hungry and that client can pay for food for a week, then do it.
But don’t leave your voice out of your sight. Use it, let it intertwine with your thinking. It will completely transform your writing and make you become the writer you were always meant to be.