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Should I Buy Grammar Software? - Hey Onicia

Note: this post contains affiliate links but it is not sponsored. All opinions are my own.
As an aspiring screenwriter, I needed a job that didn’t impede my writing goals. In 2015, I quit my call center gig and transition back to full-time writing. In preparation for the upcoming writing contest and fellowship submission season, I found myself with little time to write and edit my freelance assignments as well as my web series. Burning the candle at both ends made me slower and sloppy. Missing the deadlines was not an option. Submitting poorly-written work was a waste of money. I had a decision to make: should I hire a freelance copyeditor or should I buy grammar software?

Hey Onicia is a series where I tap into my type-A side and answer questions from my friends about this starving artist life. If you find this helpful, share with your twitter homies or thank me with ice cream. Got questions or want to share something with me? Let’s chat.

Hiring a Professional Copyeditor

I needed an editor to correct my script and application materials. Specifically for the scripts, I needed an editor to correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and -- if possible -- provide writing feedback. Because much of my work is intended for Caribbean audiences, my ideal editor should be able to distinguish mistakes from colloquial English.

Eventually, I hired a respected playwright to edit my 8-page web series pilot. I explained some mistakes were intentional (e.g. Caribbean English). Their rate and delivery time fit my schedule. Because we didn’t have a chance to fully discuss the project and they weren't familiar with Caribbean slang, they missed some 'mistakes'. I needed an editor who already understood the story and my artistic voice. There was no time to read and wait for another round of edits; I needed real-time writing help.

I haven't completely given up on humans. This month I joined a screenwriting group. Hopefully, I get the feedback and tips I'm looking for.

Buying Grammar Software

After doing research and discussing with friends, my top three writing enhancing software picks were GingerWhiteSmoke, and Grammarly. I compared features, pricing, and sample text. Last April I purchased a one-year Grammarly subscription.

My favorite Grammarly features

  • Microsoft Word extension. Writing in Word keeps me from tabbing over to Facebook.
  • Chrome and Firefox extension is amazing! No more embarrassing typos in my social media posts. It works with just about every website or online platform.
  • The email plugin is a lifesaver. As a freelance writer and project manager, email communication is key. The worst thing is sending a work-related email riddled with errors.
  • Web-based proofreader. I write a significant amount of my work in Google Docs because I do some of my best writing while commuting. Unfortunately, Grammarly does not have a mobile app or work with Google Docs. However, it does have an online proofreader. So I can write and edit on the go without having to drag my laptop with me.

April 28 marks my one-year anniversary with Grammarly. I’m definitely renewing my subscription! It's also good to know that I can always use their free grammar checker.

Grammarly vs. Human

Still wondering if to hire a human copyeditor (psst, pick me!) or if to buy Grammarly?

I say, invest in grammar software if your main goal is to improve your English and appear professional in written communication. Grammarly points out mistakes as well as explains grammar rules.

Hire a professional proofreader or ghostwriter if you want to outsource your writing projects and receive feedback. A professional editor also helps with large documents and team collaborations. For example, if you’re a media publisher with several writers. Only a human can review all the documents to ensure the branding and writing style is consistent.

Oh yeah, the script I was working on didn't win any awards, but I became a Sundance/YouTube New Voices semi-finalist! I'd like to think Grammarly gave me the edge I needed. What's been your experience with proofreaders and grammar software?
I'm a creative with type-A tendencies who tried working in a call center but realized I'd rather help creatives get organized. I'm pimping out all my marketable skills to fund my art and ice cream habit.
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