Steve Dotto here. Today, we’re going to
help you become a better writer. Well, maybe not become a better writer but appear to be
a better writer by making less mistakes, by plowing your way through writing roadblocks
by hook or by crook or by using the best tools available to help you compose more effectively
and efficiently your thoughts into a writer form, writing tools today on Dottotech. I
should have used some for my preamble. Let’s start by just talking about simple,
simple basic writing. I increasingly just use Google drive as my word processor. Why
do I use Google Drive? Because it’s online and almost all of my writing now happens online.
But occasionally I need a little bit of help. Now I’ve talked in the past about Grammarly,
which is my grammar checking editor and I’ll talk about that again at the very end today.
It’s a tool that helps me with my process of writing.
But when I’m actually just writing in Google Docs or in Google Drive—I’m still used
to calling it Google Docs—when I’m in Google Drive—I don’t know what it is,
maybe it’s getting older—I still sometimes confuse words. If you look for a list of commonly
confused words on the internet, I confuse almost all of those words all of the time
and every time I confuse a word, I have to sit there and think which word I’m supposed
to be using. For example, here at the very beginning of
this text, one of the words I have trouble with is “effect.” Is it “effect” or
“affect?” I know the difference. Right now as I’m speaking to you, I absolutely
know the difference but does that mean that 25 minutes from now when I’m writing, I’m
in the middle of writing, that I will know the difference? No. For some reason, I forget.
So within Google Drive, a lot of us just right-click on the word and look, you can define the word.
You can bring up a little definition in and up comes Google Research which tells you a
description of the word. That is awesome. You should use this a lot. If you’re experiencing
a little bit of writer’s block or some issues around things, you want to use a different
word, down in the bottom of each time they do a definition, they will give you synonyms
so you can come up with maybe a different word that works better, especially if you’re
using the same word over and over again. So tip #1 for better writing, right-click your
mouse on the word, especially if you’re in Google Docs, and use the resources that
are available to you. Tip #2, this one I really like for a whole
variety of reasons. It’s a simple little web service called Word Counter and all they
do—I’ve just copied some text in here of an article—is you ask it to go through
and how often am I using this word or these words. You can see if you’re using one word
too repetitively within the document which again allows you to go back in that if you
realize that you’re using a word too often. Now this particular document was about Bluetooth
headsets so the word “headset” being there a lot was important.
But here is an additional benefit. If you’re writing for the web and you want to write
SEO, search engine optimization-friendly content and there are certain keywords that you want
in that document to help Google find that document as it’s searching, you can use
this as well to make sure that you’ve got a number of instances of your keywords within
a document as you search it. That is a hidden benefit in this little tool called Word Counter.
Now the next tool I like just because it’s got the best title of any product that I’ve
ever seen – Write or Die 2 by Dr. Wicked. This is a word processor and it’s available
in a desktop version but the online one works great. It cost like $20 to buy the full version
but what it does—I’m going to enact her and start it playing so you can see how it
works—is as you’re writing, it plays back nice sounds. It does all sorts of nice things
for you. But if you’re not writing, if you’re not
moving along and kind of getting through the work that you have to get done, like I’ve
got 15 minutes or so here to get through this word processing document that I’m working.
So if I’m writing along and I’m saying, “It’s talking to me very nastily and I
should be writing,” now if I stop and I get writer’s block and I stop writing for
a few seconds, it starts to go kind of psycho on you. You’ve got different ways of having
it kick in. See, now it’s turning red. It’s getting angry. Let me just turn up my speakers.
It starts playing like horror music unless I start writing. Okay, I give. It gets you
kind of writing again. I don’t know if its conducive to the best
prose being written—I’ve got to pause it or it’s going to get angry again—but
when it’s happy, it’ll give you nice—okay, peanut butter and jelly time. When it’s
happy, you can have it doing things like having cats purr at you and give you nice backgrounds
and all sorts of things. But when it’s angry, when you’re not writing, it gets irritating,
sometimes horrifically so. So Write or Die 2, if you do experience writer’s block,
if you do need that little extra impetus to get through everything as you’re doing it,
it is a tool that you might consider. Now I mentioned that I used Google Drive as
my main processor. My favorite word processor of all, one from a small company in England
called Scrivener and there—sorry, the company’s called Literature and Latte and the product
is called Scrivener. It is a word processer which—I’m just going to let the video
play here just a little bit. I’ll turn down the volume here. You can kind of see it. I
don’t have it installed on this particular computer right now but I live this as a word
processor because if you are a scriptwriter, if you are a student and you’re working
on documents where you need lots organization and structure to it, this Scrivener allows
you to create kind of building blocks of whatever work you’re working on.
So here for example, each of these little snippets of text that we see on this corkboard,
they’re all editable. You can reassemble them as you go. So if you’re writing a script,
it’s great. You can have dialogue. You can have characters. You can have all these things
in these little index cards. If you’re a student and you’re writing a paper, you
can be taking notes, putting them all on these little index cards and then assemble them
later on into a word processed form. I don’t know if I’ve done justice to it
in the explanation of it right now. It’s a fairly inexpensive word processor. I think
it’s like $50 or $60 to purchase but as far as I’m concerned, for structured writing
where you’re doing a lot of research and you’re doing a lot of massaging of the content,
not for blog writing, the sort of writing that I do nowadays where it’s just 500 words
and I’m done. But if you’re writing papers, if you’re writing scripts, if you’re writing
a book, this would be the tool that I would choose without any question. Scrivener – it’s
a word processor which I think the world of. And finally if you do the sort of writing
that I do and that we all do now, we do Tweets, we do status updates and we do short, little
200-word blog posts and incredibly long 500-word blog posts, one of the things that suffers
as a result is craftsmanship. Because I’m writing to short length, I don’t pay as
much attention to accuracy, especially around spelling, punctuation in these short little
posts. Consequently, I end up sometimes looking a little bit less intelligent than I should
because I post things before they’re ready to be posted, with mistakes on them.
So I purchased Grammarly which is software that you buy online and it basically does
online grammar and spellchecking for you. Now it’s not very expensive. It’s $120
or so for a year, I think, is what I paid for it. But what it’s done for me is it’s
changed my process. I actually have a full video here which I’ll create a link to.
It’s changed my process. Because I purchased this, I actually go into it and every time
I’m posting anything at all, I just check it very quickly and it goes through and it
does grammar checking and spellchecking. It also, as a bonus, does plagiarism checking
which is awesome. Maybe you’ve been making notes, maybe you’ve been clipping things
off of the internet and you’ve accidentally incorporated them into your document what
somebody else is writing without you knowing about it, it will actually tell you if it’s
found it somewhere else, if it’s found those phrases somewhere else online so that you
can pay attention and either credit the original author or rewrite it so that you don’t actually
plagiarize somebody. For people who do plagiarize, if you’re hiring somebody to do writing
for you, it’s a great way for you to check to make sure that they haven’t posted that
somewhere else online as well. So it’s got some of those nice things going for it.
But for me, kind of rolling back, the benefit is it does catch the odd grammar mistake that
I make and allows me to look at it. It does catch the odd spelling mistake but what it
really does is by the fact that it comes up with a few suggestions is it makes me stop
and reread my work once before I publish it and I found that I’m catching far more errors
and my written communication is that much more clear and that much less embarrassing
as a result. So that is my fifth and last tool that we’re going to talk about today,
Grammarly. So there we have it. Right-click your mouse
on words, especially if you’re in word processor like Google Drive, and you can check the accuracy
of the words, you can check if it’s being used properly and you can find synonyms; you
can count your words overall in your document for search engine optimization or to make
sure you’re not being overly repetitive. If you have writer’s block, Write or Die,
which is a fairly dire situation; Literature and Latte’s Scrivener, which I think is
the outstanding word processor on the planet today; and finally Grammarly, which will help
you change your process especially for short, online posts and make sure that you make less
mistakes when you post online that way. I hope you found this video to be useful.
I know that I think all of these tips I use on a fairly regular—I don’t use Write
or Die yet but I might start using Write or Die. That would be fun. I hope you found this
useful and if you have, please give us a thumbs up and don’t forget to subscribe to our
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I’m Steve Dotto. You have a great day.