This Might Be a visitor contribution from LJ Sedgwick.
You’ve read all the online blogging guidance. You realize writing a plan helps maintain your site post to the point.
But take to as you might, nothing’s occurring. A clear page stares back at you. That blinking cursor is taunting you.
You wish to instruct your readers just how to follow your procedures. But they’re second nature to you personally. Wanting to place them into a blog post seems impossible.
You know you know everything you need for the post. But how will you get the a few ideas from your mind and onto paper? How will you turn all of them into a plan?
Worry no further. We’re planning make use of the IKEA method to brain dump those tips. After that we’ll build them into an excellent post that may last for years to come.
This blog post started off for the reason that same means. It’s an ongoing process I’ve used for blog posts since 2009. It’s additionally an approach i take advantage of set for composing fiction, and academic writing (much to your endless annoyance of my Ph. D. manager).
Therefore what’s the IKEA method, and how did it allow you to?
1 – Dump every one of the bits onto the floor.
What’s the very first thing that you do when you get your IKEA level pack house?
You tip the screws, bolts, and arbitrary Allen tips on the flooring.
We’ll begin the blog post the same way. It’s your brain dump. Set a timer and compose anything you can regarding your subject. If it helps, write it in stream-of-consciousness.
That’s just how this blog post began.
No body previously has got to view it nevertheless. It’s how you’ll become familiar with the some ideas you have to make use of.
Step two – Group everything together by ‘type’.
When you look at the IKEA technique, this is the part in which you’re matching the stuff on to the floor with the guidelines. If you’re any thing like me, you’ll also count all of them just before place anything collectively.
You need to do the same with your post. Undergo your records and break up that which you’ve written into chunks. Group your thinking collectively by ‘type’.
Say you’re writing a post about how to result in the change from every day work to freelancing. This web site post is a chest of compartments inside metaphor.
Put all your ideas about spending less and cost management, prepared when it comes to change, into one stack. That’s all the parts you may need for your first cabinet.
Then you’ll put everything regarding time administration into another stack. That’ll become your second-drawer.
Rinse and perform.
Like any IKEA assembly, you’ll also have components remaining that aren’t within the instructions. That’s ok. In my household, those additional odds and ends get into a drawer of arbitrary pieces, in the event something pauses later. Or sometimes they come in handy for totally not related Do It Yourself tasks.
You really need to perform some exact same. Open Evernote, Google Docs, Scrivener – what you may write-in. Copy and paste those ‘spare’ ideas into a document. You will never know whenever they’ll be useful.
3 – Start assembling your individual elements
Return to your heaps of bits/thoughts. People follow the instructions. Maybe not me. We put furniture together in a far more freestyle fashion. If you hate outlines, this is your brand-new closest friend.
Have a look at your first stack of furniture parts/thoughts. They’re already grouped together, so that gives you your subhead for the area.
Start editing those loose, stream of consciousness thoughts into coherent sentences. Go all of them around into rational sentences.
Change that subhead into some thing descriptive, therefore scanners can certainly skim your post. Verify it signposts your content.
Imagine we’re building a chest of drawers. This newly edited paragraph will be your first finished cabinet.
Move onto the next stack of ideas and do the same thing. You’ve currently done the time and effort and gotten the thoughts collectively. Now you need to turn them into readable content.
As soon as you’ve run out of piles, you’ve got the independently put together components of your post. With the IKEA technique, they’re the compartments you put together just before slot them to the empty upper body.
But just how are you going to develop the chest to fit the drawers into?
Step four – Build the container for your various other elements
Examine your subheads. What’s many logical purchase for them to follow? That is likely to be the key to writing the interesting blog post you want to write.
So within time job-to-freelancing post, you won’t place a part about advertising and marketing your brand-new business before one about carving out time to develop a profile.
Arrange (and re-arrange, if necessary) the subheads you’ve written into a post that moves well.
And there’s the chest.
Slip each one of the compartments into destination by pasting just the right paragraphs underneath the right subheads.
If you are building IKEA furniture, this is basically the point where you tighten every one of the screws. Therefore for your IKEA-built post, you’ll edit your phrases so that the post moves. One part should establish the following, and so forth.
Step 5 – Find the best spot for the new furniture/blog post
At home, you’d find a very good place for your brand-new piece of furniture. For your post, you’re trying to find the best context.
And that’s your introduction. Craft your intro so that it sets up the information that employs. Provide your chest of drawers/blog post one last polish.
And hey presto! You’ve utilized the IKEA approach to system to brain dump and edit your path to an engaging blog post!
The IKEA technique helps bloggers who can’t reach grips with outlines
Whenever I brain-dumped this post, I began with 637 words. They weren’t always into the right order, nevertheless a few ideas have there been.
It took simply quarter-hour getting every little thing down that i desired to state. Then it took another quarter-hour to turn it into a 1000 word post.
If you hate using outlines, switching your thoughts into a useful post is a lot easier by brain-dumping and modifying than wanting to compose the most wonderful post from scratch.
Why don’t you give it a go? Pick your topic/piece of furniture and obtain begun. Inform me within the opinions below the manner in which you get on!
LJ Sedgwick writes blogs and copy for startups while drinking even more coffee than is healthier. You will find her blogs about content marketing at her site.
Today’s guest post is through Elizabeth Sims (@ESimsAuthor) and is excerpted from the entire Handbook of novel-writing, an anthology published by Writer’s process. (I’m a contributor towards the anthology as well!)
A while ago I attended a creators’ club meeting. A few of the members had currently launched successful products and were focusing on more, while some were just beginners with great ideas. The novices had been commiserating about how difficult it really is to deal with financing, raw materials, manufacturing, marketing, and all the others, whenever one of many experienced inventors out of the blue stood up. “Look,” he said impatiently, “ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s the growth that places you extraordinary. Do everything you have to do making it real and acquire it to promote.”
I was amazed, because I’d constantly thought that a fantastic idea might make you a fortune. But we rapidly discovered my new friend was appropriate: Idea is only the start.
Fiction article authors have loads in common with those inventors. It’s not hard to obtain influenced by outstanding idea, to take it to your dining table or toolshed or cellar and do a little brainstorming, and even to start putting the story on paper—but in the course of time, a lot of us drop traction. The Reason Why? Because development doesn’t happen on its own. Actually, I’ve arrived at genuinely believe that concept development could be the no. 1 ability an author needs.
Just how do great writers develop stunning narratives, break from tradition, and advance the form of their particular fiction? They just take whatever fundamental a few ideas they’ve got, after that go all of them from the typical. Regardless of your starting point—a love tale, friend tale, secret, quest—you can do just like the great innovators do: Bend it. Amp it. Drive it. Remove it.
1. Bend it
Chuck Palahniuk is on record as saying he received heavily from The Great Gatsby to create his novel Fight Club. I’ve read both publications (multiple times) but wouldn’t have understood that parallel. He said, “Really, what I had been writing had been just the fantastic Gatsby updated slightly. It absolutely was ‘apostolic’ fiction—where a surviving apostle tells the storyline of their hero. There are two main guys and a woman. And one guy, the hero, is shot to death.” Palahniuk transformed a traditional love story occur the high society of America’s Roaring Twenties into a violent and bloody story of intimate obsession, cultism, and social disturbance occur a rotten globe.
He bent the some ideas behind Gatsby into some thing all his own. Next time you receive a great idea for an account, don’t hold on there. Bend your initial concept, making it more unique—and much more powerful—with every change:
Get our of your mind and into the pelvis. Give your characters internal yearnings (sexual or otherwise) they don’t understand and can’t handle cognitively. Palahniuk provided their apostolic primary character an unnamable urge, a gland-level longing that pushes him to imagine is a cancer client and participate in support groups where hugging and crying are not just fine but expected. Breaking the taboo against exploiting nonexistent pain does over give the personality relief: It moves the storyline ahead in huge leaps.
Brainstorm which your figures may be by reimagining their particular motivations. Let’s state you’ve come up with the idea your main personality is an insomniac who needs chocolate to-fall asleep. Bend that desire into something which is completely disquieting to anybody your protagonist. Wouldn’t it is much more compelling if she’s to, say, shoplift a pricey product specifically 1 hour before bedtime?
Break far from familiar parameters. Many authors compose characters with experiences similar to unique, about regarding class, training, and money. Throw that away. Write billionaires, bums, addicts, the hopeless, the heroic. Provide them with crappy, selfish habits, resentments, grudges. Combine qualities. Make feral animals from metropolitan sophisticates and metropolitan sophisticates from feral animals.
Add insanity. The key to making a personality believably and compellingly crazy is always to give him ways to rationalize his behavior, from the a little strange into the outrageous. Is your character really nuts, or is here something different going on? Just how can anyone inform? Crazy characters need many resources to help keep them away from trouble—and may have a significant affect everyone. Have fun with that.
2. Amp it
Brief Encounter is a Brit movie adapted from Nöel Coward’s play Still Life. It’s the storyline of two peaceful individuals who meet and fall-in love notwithstanding being hitched to others, but, conscience stricken, break-off the connection before it really gets going. The tiny, exquisite tragedy resonated using the genteel, enchanting codes of conduct valued in prewar England.
Then again along comes Tennessee Williams together with play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a love tale that has comparable themes at its core but rips us from any semblance of society. Could Williams previously amp crisis! For starters, he knew that a tale about noble ideals wouldn’t cut it anymore. Establishing his play within the emotionally brutal mélange of postwar American South, he slashed into the key marrow of their protagonists and antagonists alike, exposing the weaknesses and delusions that bind men and women collectively on the surface while ripping them apart below decks.
Take the essence of your tale, and amp it:
Include characters and gain the feeling. Playwrights familiar with limit the number of figures inside their stories, not planning to overcrowd the phase. But once Williams crams six or eight men and women onto the scene simultaneously and establishes all of them at one another’s throats, we get the opportunity to feel their emotional claustrophobia and unwanted interdependence. Amp up your activity by the addition of cunning, vindictiveness, envy, fear of publicity, stupidity, even death.
Expose internal bleeding. The deepest, most painful wounds will be the invisible people people inflict on one another and themselves in a hundred methods: betrayal, selfishness, abandonment. Make an effort to compose characters whom feel susceptible to pain, whose secrets are incredibly close to the area which they can’t afford to be courteous. Put in a truth teller and watch the inner skin tear and sizzle.
Create blood connections. Kinship is story gold. Bring your choose of, and take your time with, its darker aspects: scapegoating, favoritism, jealousy. A blood link can immediately heighten any dispute, because kinship is the one thing in life you can’t alter or leave from. Create your characters understand this the hard means.
3. Drive it
Many great modern-day stories springtime from same seeds as old folk stories. The subjugation of ladies, for-instance, isn’t just among the earliest oppressions, it’s one of the more pernicious—hence, it nonetheless resonates with audiences of types. We first meet Cinderella within the scullery, a slave to your harsh demands of her stepmother and older stepsisters. Whenever Cinderella attempts to just take some initiative to enhance her circumstance, she’s squelched and penalized.
Margaret Atwood, in her landmark dystopian book The Handmaid’s Tale, steers the Cinderella archetype far from any residence whatsoever and from any interactions, besides. She multiplies Cinderella 1000 times, and all the Cinderellas tend to be kept live when it comes to only asset they have that can’t be synthesized (at the least, not yet!): their particular fertile wombs. Their function will be procreate a society that could be better off dead. And there are no good looking princes ahead along and change anything. Atwood drove Cinderella to a spot almost—but maybe not quite—beyond recognition. And that’s the energy.
You, also, could make gut-wrenching miracle from your fiction by driving your story to a summary beyond you ever before believed it may get:
Begin at crux of your premise and hit the fuel. Agents and editors frequently tell new writers, “Don’t start in the beginning, come from the center,” which will suggests, “Don’t waste pages creating the core of the story.” Smart advice. Decide to try starting at your knottiest point, after which drive it forward utilising the exact same strategies that got your concept there.
Ensure it is bigger than the in-patient. Just how would a business intimidate and subjugate? Ensure it is appropriate; get step by small action. Lawlessness isn’t as frightening as a failure associated with personal order using the incorrect folks responsible. A company can be as small as a truck stop, a fraternity residence, or a bridal party. Let every thing appear regular at first, and slowly let things decline and get wrong.
Add the complicity of a target. Polite, politically correct society isn’t at all confident with a victim becoming complicit in the own oppression. Great! The disquiet originates from the fact everybody knows but doesn’t need to know that these types of perversion associated with the man character is out there; it’s real because self-deceit is genuine. Break the taboo and use it to create your story breathtaking, like a ship breaking aside on a reef.
Added an impossible option. The ladies in Atwood’s novel stay an impossible option every single day: Do they go along, or rebel? Going along should destroy your self from within; to rebel will be invite specific destruction from without. An impossible choice can face someone who’s being black-mailed, or someone who absolutely must-have two conflicting things, or a variety of other opportunities. And it may steer your tale in brand-new instructions like nothing else.
4. Strip it
War has-been the seed of countless innovative works. In developing War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy devote everything he could think about because war can be so huge. To express the French invasion of Russia together with associated Napoleonic age, he typed an epic that then followed a large number of figures. The sheer, pounding fat of detail in War and Peace helps us comprehend the effect of war on people as well as the organizations they considered unshakable.
But Ernest Hemingway, a guy reeling from his own experiences in World War I, stripped away every thing he could think of because war can be as tiny together guy. Confronted by the realities of war, he composed exactly what found him, then stripped it and sanded it until only difficult, bright pieces were remaining. The effect, inside our Time, is an accumulation of vignettes and short tales that evokes the immediate scary and ongoing discomfort of the many awful of real human activities.
When it starts to appear as though no wide range of terms can truly represent the reality of something, explore just what might happen in the event that you strip down your concept to permit the tiny to suggest the countless:
Convey emotion through activity, not description. Inexperienced storytellers usually try—alas, unsuccessfully—to do exactly what Tolstoy did really: to not just show what the results are but to share with in deep, ruminative information how every person feels about this. To Siberia with that! Do like Papa Hemingway: When Joe’s dad in “My Old Man” gets broken to demise in the horse track, Hemingway merely allows Joe inform us the cops presented him back, and what his father’s dead-face appeared to be, which it absolutely was quite difficult to end crying right then. You, too, can present life-and-death feeling without saying a word about this. Adopting this approach through the outset of the concept development will save you plenty of writing and rewriting later.
Utilize small particulars to carry huge items to life. A mushroom cloud, or a burned, sobbing child? A wedding with a cast of thousands, or the intimate taste of a lover? A travelogue, or the feel of acceleration down a mountain road? It’s not too-early to begin considering your details. Be picky. What makes your heart quicken? Those glancing moments can offer up all of the description you may need.
When you apply these practices, don’t keep down hard on anybody; simply take a light, comfortable method and enable idea to build on concept. Should you that, your inborn creativity will take over. It knows exactly what it’s doing! In certain cases when you’re really moving, your ideas will apparently develop by themselves; they’ll pop brighter and bite much deeper.
And like the most useful creators, just who incorporate brilliant a few ideas because of the guts and drive to make them truth, you won’t be caught drumming your fingers regarding drafting dining table. You’ll be creating well-developed stories using maximum chance of success.
In the event that you liked this post, I recommend reading Elizabeth Sims’ guide, You’ve Got a novel inside you. Or, take a look at the entire Handbook of Novel Writing, with over 70 articles by expert writers and educators.
Elizabeth Sims (@esimsauthor) is a bestselling author and composing authority. Booklist described the girl crime fiction “because wise as it is persuasive,” and Crimespree magazine praises this lady “strong voice and wonderful figures.” an adding editor at Writer’s Digest magazine, Elizabeth’s craft-of-writing advice has appeared in those pages since 2006, and she is a sought-after presenter at seminars across the U.S. When time allows she coaches aspiring article authors independently and through workshops. She wants to assist fledgling writers find their wings!
That is, writing is no longer an ink-stained task of scrawling on parchment. Getting your thoughts down is faster and easier than ever. Indeed, as voice-recognition software continues to improve, using your fingers to bang out sentences on a keyboard may soon look charmingly quaint.
Here, at a glance, is the evolution of the technology that shapes how we write.
Writing by hand
Writers in bygone centuries had to dip reed or bamboo pens, ink brushes, or feather quills into ink, then place them on papyrus or paper. This notoriously messy process prompted the invention in 1636 of a reservoir pen made from two quills. One was sealed with a cork and held the ink, which was squeezed through a tiny hole.
By 1827, a fountain pen with an ink chamber in the handle had earned a patent in France, but it wasn’t until 1888 that the first ballpoint pen, featuring a tiny moving ball in a socket in the tip, followed suit. Next came felt-tip pens in the 1960s, rollerball pens in the 1970s, and erasable pens in 1979.
In recent years, sales of that other erasable stalwart, the pencil, have fallen on hard times, although colored pencils have exploded in popularity, thanks to the advent of adult coloring books. Meanwhile, pen sales continue to rise slightly.
The first commercially successful typewriter was invented by Americans in 1868. Just a few years later, in 1875, Mark Twain dashed off an admiring letter to his brother:
The machine has several virtues. I believe it will print faster than I can write. One may lean back in his chair & work it. It piles an awful stack of words on one page. It don’t muss things or scatter ink blots around. Of course it saves paper.
How best to operate such machines was controversial at first: Should the user type with just two fingers, or would eight be more efficient? And should one’s gaze be fixed on the buttons or on the page? But the arrangement of the keys – the now-familiar QWERTY design – was widely embraced, and it has barely changed since.
The QWERTY arrangement owes to the work of Christopher Latham Sholes, whose flawed early attempts placed the letters alphabetically in two rows. This led to frequently paired letters, such as “st” and “th,” mashing close together and jamming the machine. So, collaborating with an educator name Amos Densmore, Sholes rearranged the letters according to their popularity. At first this confused typists, but with fewer jams, it ultimately made for a smoother writing process.
First digital, then mobile
Typewriters were widespread for roughly a century before giving way to the rise of computers. Apple, RadioShack, and Commodore all began manufacturing keyboards for their models in the 1970s. (For a throwback, check out this ancient RadioShack commercial for the TRS-80.)
With technology’s inexorable drive toward the smaller and sleeker, the late 1980s offered an early glimpse of what would be recognized today as primordial text messaging. Devices like 1989’s Motorola MicroTAC 9800X promised typing on mobile phones, albeit with a multi-tap approach that meant each number on the keypad mapped to several letters of the alphabet – what’s known as an alphanumeric keypad.
By 1993, the IBM Simon delivered the world’s first full QWERTY keyboard and touchscreen; in 1997, the appear poised to obviate many people’s need for other computers altogether.
Talking with machines
Before Siri, there was Audrey, a 1952 Bell Laboratories speech-recognition system that could understand only digits.
Because computing was still in its infancy at the time, this technology evolved slowly; IBM’s “Shoebox” machine could understand 16 words spoken in English in 1962, but adding hundreds of additional entries to the vocabulary of machines was a decades-long process. It wasn’t until 1990 that Dragon introduced a consumer-targeted speech-recognition product, Dragon Dictate, for a whopping $9,000.
Until fairly recently, such technologies plateaued at around 80 percent accuracy. But in the last few years, Apple and Google devices have made typing by voice easier than tapping words into a screen, and this technology looks increasingly crucial as competitors like Amazon, with its Echo device, also crowd in. Such gadgets not only sift your words out of any surrounding noises but also analyze the linguistic context to better understand precisely what you’re saying.
Is handwriting obsolete?
As machines continue to improve, is old-timey ink on paper bound the way of the dinosaur?
One survey found hundreds of people who said they hadn’t written a single thing by hand in over a month. And while current U.S. educational standards don’t require cursive, lessons in keyboarding are mandatory, down to grades where students have barely learned to write by hand. Indeed, even as many of us aren’t sure what drawer we last saw a notepad in, we now spend hours each day texting and writing online.
Of course, longhand still has its advantages; studies suggest it’s a better way to take notes than on a laptop. That’s not just because computers can be an endless source of distraction, either. Rather, researchers found that when you take notes by hand, because you can’t keep up with everything that’s being said verbatim, you instead reframe it in your own words, prompting deeper thought than rote transcription. There is also evidence that writing letters out cements the ability to recognize those characters, both for children learning to read and for adults studying foreign languages.
Whether you still like the feel of pen on paper or prefer the glow of a touchscreen or a machine that takes dictation, you’re still getting your ideas down and communicating, albeit in different ways. And that’s really been the point all along, says Anne Trubek, an author and former professor at Oberlin College, referring millennia-old forms of writing on clay tablets:
What we want from writing – and what the Sumerians wanted – is cognitive automaticity, the ability to think as fast as possible, freed as much as can be from the strictures of whichever technology we must use to record our thoughts,” Trubek wrote. “This is what typing does for millions. It allows us to go faster, not because we want everything faster in our hyped-up age, but for the opposite reason: we want more time to think.
So what about you? What’s your favorite way to capture an idea in writing?
The problem is, Oscar-worthy content doesn’t always equal Oscar-worthy literacy.
As my favorite writing joke says, “I do my best proofreading after I hit send”.
Yeah, we’ve all been there. No matter how experienced at content writing you are, you still trigger the same backlash once in a while.
The main problem of most writers, including your humble narrator, is verbal intelligence. Grammar, punctuation, and stylistic mistakes can kill your content despite its awesomeness. Trust me, I know what I am talking about:
Editors don’t give a damn about your copy because, you see, they find typos (well, yes, s**t happens), awkward grammar constructions (hey, and what if it’s my awesome writing style?), poor punctuation (oh, really? does anybody still care about Oxford commas? I LOVE them, by the way), and so on.
And the only thought that comes to your mind after yet another knockback:
What an embarrassing fail!
With that in mind, you don’t stop improving your writing and editing skills, and looking for blogging tools to help you become a better content creator and get more clients.
To help you out, here are 10 of the best blogging tools.
Grammarly is my favorite grammar checker that will find a typo even if there are no typos in your text. After all, it’s you who decides to change it or not.
It will find your structure, grammar, spelling, and style issues, suggesting for effective vocabulary alternatives. It will correct improper formatting, comma splices, wordiness, incorrect compound sentences, and more. Both free and premium versions available.
Pros: Unlimited number of documents to create and save, 250+ checks, relevant corrections for personal blogs and 30 other document types.
Cons: Most features are open to premium members only (plagiarism check, vocabulary enhancement, and professional proofreading, for example). Free members can see the number of advanced issues in their writing, but Grammarly won’t suggest corrections for them.
Tip: Don’t hurry up to buy a premium membership if you are not sure whether it’s worth trying.
Just click advanced issues to find out what mistakes you have in a text (see the pic) to edit it accordingly.
Hemingway is a savior for bloggers who don’t have the time and desire to download anything to their laptops (like me). It will check readability, grammar, and punctuation of your content, suggesting alternatives for making your writing more concise.
And now it’s high time to confess:
Hemingway App hasn’t approved my text! The reason? My sentences are… long! Yeah, if you decide to use this tool, forget about long sentences with compound punctuation, as the app will never approve them. Like Ernest Hemingway himself, by the way.
Pros: It’s free to use, inspiring, and inviting to the eye. Plus, Hemingway is smart enough to scan text for the most common mistakes.
Cons: It doesn’t let you use adverbs and passive voice. Yes, at all. So, forget about them to make your writing concise. And yes, forget about long compound sentences. Hemingway will consider them hard to read, suggesting to consider a simpler alternative.
For me, the biggest con of this tool is the inability to find ALL typos. Thus, it didn’t see anything wrong with redability, choise, adverds, and consise.
Tip: Don’t use it if you are a fan of long sentences. But with today’s blogging expecting concise writing, Hemingway might be your #1 choice.
Free to try online, Ginger will suggest to download it for better writing and expressing yourself. Alongside spelling and grammar checking, this software translates, listens, rephrases, and defines your writing.
Pros: Free to download, it corrects grammar, spelling, and misused words. Also, it offers suggestions for alternative sentence structures.
Cons: Sometimes, it corrects items that shouldn’t be corrected (see the pic), but you can always decide whether to apply this change or not, can’t you?
Tip: Download Ginger to get access to all features, as it’s not practical and comfortable to use it online. Do not download it if you’ve already downloaded Grammarly, for example, as they both work in your browser and disturb each other, confusing you.
4. Atomic Writer
Based on your audience, Atomic Writer improves such aspects of writing as word and sentence complexity, paragraph density, post length, spelling, and grammar. Developed for bloggers, it’s downloadable for browsers, as well as WordPress admin panels.
Pros: It lets you track your content performance! Analyzing your titles and copy, it tells you how your text works for your target audience. Links, emotions, audience engagement – this app helps to write better for different readers.
Cons: It works best for those writing in admin panels of WordPress, Drupal, Kapost, or Joomla. If everything you need is checking your spelling, this app won’t be your best choice.
Tip: Download their Chrome Extension (it’s free!) to get a clear picture of who is who.
5. Pro Writing Aid
Pro Writing Aid promises to improve readability of your writing (Isn’t it what every content writer wants, huh?) and eliminate errors from your text.
It’s free to use for registered members, and it stores preferences, tailoring algorithms to your writing style. You can use ProWritingAid as a plugin for MS Word, Google Docs, API, Google Chrome, or Scrivener.
Pros: Easy to use, this tool eliminates the most common spelling and grammar errors.
Cons: Impossible to use online if you don’t have a ProWritingAid account. Every step you take leads to a “Create a free account” page. The free version has a limit of 19 writing reports and 3,000 words maximum. To get interactive editing and plagiarism check, you would pay $35-$40/year.
Tip: Use your social media account, Facebook or LinkedIn, to sign up and try its features. No need to share your email unless you decide ProWritingAid is of your interest and needs.
6. Paper Rater
Aiming to help students with academic papers, Paper Rater can assist bloggers, too. Proofreading, vocabulary build, plagiarism detection, title validation, style and word choice analysis, readability statistics, spelling and grammar check – these features help you please editors with high-quality content.
Pros: Free to use, Paper Rater utilizes indexes of all search engines. Its vocabulary builder helps you learn proper usage of words. Immediate analysis of your documents makes this tool a must-try.
Cons: Most features are available for premium members only (enhanced plagiarism check, ad-free, files upload, etc.). They ask to send them your text if you want to see a report, so it can take some time to get feedback.
Tip: This tool is perfect for those writing essays and reviews for blogs. They will also help writers who need to check academic papers for grammar, style, and plagiarism.
7. White Smoke
As a blogger, sometimes you have to work from everywhere. Literally. This is a reason to try White Smoke, a software that works on all devices, whether it is a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone.
Allowing you to correct grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure, this tool proudly identifies itself as “the most advanced software available”.
Pros: It has mobile versions for both Android and iOS. Free to use on Chrome, it does plagiarism check, text translation from over 45 languages, and writing style improvement.
Cons: You have to provide your email address to get a free trial. When used online, White Smoke doesn’t explain mistakes or suggest corrections.
8. Neuro Grammar
Neuro Grammar is an advanced grammar checking software for those looking for their writing mistakes explanation, not simple demonstration. While most tools find typos, grammar fails, and punctuation fiascos, Neuro Grammar explains WHY it’s a mistake and what to do to avoid it in the future.
Its advanced artificial intelligence algorithms analyze every phrase in detail.
Pros: Dictionary and thesaurus. This software analyzes the meaning of your writing, provides word choices, suggests improvements regarding clarity and conciseness, and shares grammar explanations.
Cons: You can’t use it online. Get ready to purchase it for $149 to access all its features. Meh…
Tip: Using this software you can add an unlimited number of your words and phrases to develop and increase its vocabulary database.
9. After the Deadline
I’ve tried After the Deadline and checked its powers to proofread writing for spelling, grammar, context, and style.
Pros: Available for WordPress.com, as well as libraries, plugins, add-ons, and extensions for a variety of platforms.
Cons: You can’t use it with MS Word. It makes no distinction between British and American English. When used online, it sometimes ignores spelling errors but works better in a WordPress dashboard.
Tip: Use it online with no downloads to check common grammar mistakes and fix them before sending copies to your clients.
Not so awesome but still worth trying
Those tools are badass despite their tiny drawbacks. Nobody’s perfect, after all. So, choose your favorite and hone your writing to perfection!
But you know what?
I could not leave this Hateful Nine (sorry, I just LOVE this movie) alone. Why? I love writing long lists of 20+, 50+, 100+ items, and I love odd numbers.
So, why not make it a list of 21 tools? (yes, I LOVE blackjack, too!)
Here come 12 more tools and resources, worth trying to clean your content and make it error-free.
SpellChecker lets you fix spelling, grammar, and works as a thesaurus online. You’ll access basic and advanced checks, but if you choose an advanced one it will redirect you to the Grammarly application.
Grammar Check lets you fix writing for typos, grammar, and punctuation, suggesting alternatives for making your text more concise. It’s able to format your text and improve readability for online users. Available online, it doesn’t ask you to download anything.
Language Tool lets you check content in different languages. Choose a language, paste your text, and check it for typos, grammar, and context. The tool provides suggestions for edits.
Online Correction will find basic grammar, stylistic, and spelling mistakes in your English text. Choose a dialect (British, American, Australian, New Zealand, or South African), paste your text into the box, and see if your writing needs edits. P.S. It was able to find my typo in “Zeland” though Grammarly didn’t see it. Whoa!
Proofread Bot provides nothing new but spelling and grammar checks online. But they confess there is a chance a bot can’t see ALL errors, so they suggest you submit content for more precise examination. Available for MS Word, Google Chrome Docs, WordPress, Drupal, and even Facebook to avoid mistakes and not feed the trolls. Oh, one more thing: it doesn’t like short sentences, suggesting you maintain an average sentence length of 15 to 20 words. Hemingway wouldn’t approve it, I guess.
Correct English checks writing for grammar, mechanics, word choice, and organization. They offer three days of free trial with a following complete edition for $120. It’s perfect for those writing research and academic papers, as this tool also guides with APA and MLA styles.
Autocrit helps check your writing for typos, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. Yes, again. It’s a tool of your choice if you write fiction stories for online publications. It needs at least 200 characters for analysis, so you can’t check separate sentences here.
Virtual Writing Tutor is a free online grammar checker that cleans all spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. Paste your text into the box to see corrections. It’s for you if you need a quick check of phrases or grammar constructions.
Slick Write checks your writing online. Its distraction-free interface lets you write faster and generate better ideas. As well as most checkers of this type, Slick Write corrects and explains grammar and punctuation, as well as spelling mistakes.
Reverso lets you check between British and American spellings, suggests several corrections, provides synonyms and definitions, and shares examples of word or phrase usage. You can use it online with no downloads.
Gram Mark helps with the most common grammar mistakes all writers do, such as wordiness, passive voice usage, run-on sentences, transitions, etc. It doesn’t fix everything, warning you about that at the website. So, it’s you who decides if it meets your expectations.
SpellCheck24 helps with spelling and grammar, explaining your mistakes and suggesting alternatives. It is free to use online, but you should register and create an account at their website to use all the features of this tool.
Phew! That’s it.
Don’t give red pen police any chance to discredit your writing.
Don’t give them any chance to prevent you from publishing your work at top blogs.
And don’t hesitate to ask the mentioned tools for help!
Spelling and grammar mistakes have never been easier to kill, and your writing endeavors have never been easier to accomplish.
Guest Author:Lesley Vos is a content creator of Bid4Papers, passionate guest blogger, and ghostwriter. Specializing in data research, content creation, and distribution, she doesn’t forget to polish her writing skills and learn all secrets of content marketing. Follow her on @LesleyVos to say hi and read more works of hers.
Fans of high culture rejoice. We have finally realized our potential as a species. We have reached the pinnacle of creative expression.
That’s right. MacGyver is getting a reboot.
For those of you born in the 90’s, MacGyver was a TV show starring Richard Dean Anderson and his amazing mullet:
Image via Telestar
Breathtaking, isn’t it? MacGyver was a secret agent who used the power of feathered hair (and an array of improvised gadgetry) to fight the forces of evil. Give the man a paperclip and some bubblegum, and he could make anything from a deadly weapon to a stylish evening gown.
Content marketers tend to be the MacGyver of the marketing world. We may not have the hairdo (or any hair at all, in my case), but we’re used to making miracles with an improvised toolkit.
To celebrate MacGyver’s triumphant return, let’s put away our tin-foil-and-dryer-lint contraptions and give our tools a much-needed upgrade.
Here are tools you can use in every stage of creating a blog post, from creating concepts to adding visual interest.
Content marketing starts with audience and keyword research. After that, it’s time to take that research and turn it into actual concepts for individual posts. These five tools can help.
#1 – HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator
This little wizard is still the gold standard for simple idea generation. You can enter up to three topics, and it will put together sample headlines for you. The suggestions are based on HubSpot’s own incredibly successful blog. They may be a little on the generic side, but they’re a good starting point.
#2 – Portent’s Content Idea Generator
Put in a keyword, get a single headline. It’s a simple little generator, but one thing sets it above some of the other tools I considered for this list: It’s a teaching tool. Each component of the headline gets its own little mini-rationale.
#3 – TweakYourBIZ Title Generator
Unlike the first two, this title generator spits out multiple lists of ideas, organized by type of post. You may notice a lack of variety, but with this many options available, you’re bound to find a few winners.
#4 – The Content Discovery Tool
This tool is a unique little beast. It’s built entirely in Google Sheets, using XML commands, JSON scripts, and unicorn blood to pull information from dozens of sources. Type in a topic and the sheet populates with trending articles from around the web. You can dig in and customize it, but it works well even for non-tech folks like me.
#5 – Buzzsumo
Sometimes seeing the top performing posts on your topic is the best inspiration. For that, Buzzsumo is an extremely useful tool. Type in a topic and see the most-shared posts of all time, or the past year, six months, month or week. You can even see what posts are about to hit big on the Trending page. Buzzsumo has a decent amount of functionality for free. Pro accounts unlock a host of other features and start at $99/month.
The concept generators can give you a good idea of how to approach your topic. These tools can help you write a headline that gets people’s attention.
#6 – CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
This tool is a favorite around the TopRank Marketing office—my colleague in content Caitlin Burgess mentioned it in her post on writing compelling headlines. This list would be incomplete without it, though. It’s easy to use, informative, and educational.
#7 – Sharethrough Headline Analyzer
Similar functionality to CoSchedule here, but it’s always worth corroborating results. This one focuses more on the emotional feel of the headline, too, so it can deliver insights that you don’t get from CoSchedule.
#8 – KingSumo Headlines
After you analyze and optimize your headlines, this WordPress plugin can automatically A/B test them for you. Load it up with three different headlines when you post, and it will randomly serve them to visitors and monitor social shares. Over time, it can consistently deliver the best-performing headline. Nifty!
Now comes the hard part, and the fun part: Actually drafting. There aren’t any tools yet that can do the writing for you. Which is good, because it means people like me keep pulling a paycheck. However, there are tools that can help you focus on getting the job done.
#9 – Freedom
Freedom is a customizable distraction blocker. You can build custom blocklists for sites/notifications/apps you want to block, and on which devices you want to block them. Choose time limits, schedule your day, and get your productivity back. Free trial, plans start at $2.42/month.
#10 – FocusWriter
This program is essentially a stripped-down word processor. It hides all its menus and widgets off the screen until mouseover, so there’s nothing between you and the words you’re typing on the screen. It also helps avoid the eye strain with soft gray text on a translucent background. $5 download.
#11 – StayFocusd
If you’re using Google Chrome, this is the productivity taskmaster you’ve been looking for. Set up a list of time-wasting sites and it will block them completely, after an amount of allowed time that you specify. So if you say 30 minutes, then spend 20 on Facebook and 10 on Twitter, you’re done for the day. It also features the “Nuclear Option,” which blocks every site on your blacklist for a set amount of time and can’t be undone without uninstalling. It’s merciless—which is exactly what a writer needs sometimes.
#12 – Zen-Cast
Studies show a little ambient noise can help focus and productivity. This webpage is a simple, surprisingly customizable nature sound generator. Spend hours working by the seashore, in the rain, or under a waterfall, with insects and birdsong to boot. Although nerds (like me) might find this ambient sound more relaxing.
So your first draft is done. But unless this is your first rodeo, you know the first draft is the beginning, not the end. These tools can help you edit for the 4 Cs of quality content.
#13 – Word2CleanHTML
If you draft in Word and then upload to your CMS (like me), this little tool is a godsend. It strips out blank spaces, replaces proprietary tags with HTML standard tags, and converts special characters to universal ones.
#14 – The Hemingway App
This is another tool I have recommended before, but this list would be incomplete without it. The Hemingway App checks your writing for convoluted sentences, passive voice, and overuse of adverbs. It can even tell you what grade level you’re writing at. Just take the suggestions on sentence length with a grain of salt. Too many short sentences in a row makes writing feel choppy.
#15 – Readability Test Tool
Similar to the Hemingway App, feed this test a URL or copy-and-paste your text in, and get a detailed analysis. This tool evaluates on a few more metrics than Hemingway does, and provides useful stats on average sentence length, percentage of complex words, and more.
The right image can be a compelling visual headline for your piece. These tools can help you find and customize your images.
#16 – Pixabay
This site is my go-to for royalty-free images. It features hundreds of thousands of photos and a robust search engine that can actually return useful results.
#17 – Stocksnap
Another collection of royalty-free images with a great interface for discovery. There’s a little overlap with Pixabay, but it has plenty of original content, too.
#18 – rgbstock
This site has a less intelligent tagging system than the other two, and the way it displays results isn’t the best. But it does have pictures the other two sites don’t have. It’s worth braving the interface to get fresh photos.
#19 – Pixlr
This surprisingly feature-rich free web app has functionality to rival professional software. It’s good for everything from resizing images to in-depth layer-based composition.
#20 – Canva
Canva is the star player for creating social media images. It’s so simple, so intuitive, so easy to create cool-looking stuff. Make a free account and you get unlimited uploads, unlimited use of a big library of assets, and downloads in high-res and web optimized sizes. There are also huge libraries of elements you can buy for a dollar or two apiece.
Maximize Your MacGuyver Instinct
Content marketers are used to making the best of what’s around. But there’s no need to work with paperclips and chewing gum when there are dozens of free and low-cost tools to help with every stage of the process. From creating concepts to adding visual flair, these tools can help you make content as majestic as the mightiest mullet.
What are your favorite blog writing tools? Let me know in the comments.