I love writing. To me, there is nothing more cathartic or soothing than turning off the rest of the world and putting my thoughts to paper. This passion has made it easy for me to create content for Duct Tape Marketing. I don’t see it as a chore; I see it as an opportunity to relax. And once the blog post is written, I can look back upon it and smile with a sense of accomplishment.
But I do understand that many business owners don’t feel the same way about writing, or marketing in general. For some of you, writing content is a bore at best, an extreme source of anxiety at worst. I get it, the first few times I wrote something, I was nervous to share it with the world. Putting your content out on the Internet can make you feel vulnerable, particularly when the stereotype of Internet commenters is that they are demeaning and combative.
The truth is, the community on the Internet isn’t nearly what you think it is. In my experience, you all have been supportive and even empowering. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to put your best foot forward when producing content.
That’s why I’ve collected these 5 handy tools that will help you become a better writer of great content. Of course, nothing replaces practice, but these tools will make it easier to recognize your writing style, polish your finished product, and even help you focus.
The English language is one of the most complex languages in the world. There are thousands of rules to remember, most of which people ignore on a daily basis in conversation. It’s easy enough to forget obscure grammar rules from back in high school, let alone specific writing conventions you may just be learning. Grammarly will make your writing better by helping you catch all of the errors you don’t even know you’re making.
Grammarly is extremely effective at catching small errors like correctly spelled, but misused words that spell check doesn’t, and even identifies advanced grammar errors. Grammarly also analyzes your writing patterns and helps you improve by identifying things like use of passive voice and overused words.
You can download Grammarly for your browser and even download it for your word processing program. Of course, you can also upgrade to the paid version and get even more advanced insights to your writing style.
If you’re just creating one or two pieces of content a month, Scrivener may not be for you, but it is without a doubt my favorite word processing program. Scrivener allows you to collect research, notes and your writing all in one file.
Do you like to use physical notes to collect your thoughts before writing? Scrivener allows you to outline your project with notecards and outlines. For instance, I used it to create digital notecards for each tool I was considering in this post and arranged them to turn them into a full outline. By the time I sit down to write, the words flow quickly from my keyboard.
Again, this isn’t for everyone, but if you’re serious about writing you may want to give it a try.
Ernest Hemingway was well known for his short, easy to read sentences. It made his works surprisingly easy to read despite the thematic complexity. The appropriately named Hemingway tool analyzes your writing and helps identify ways to shorten your sentences and make it easier to read.
It is important to make your web content as easy to read as possible. Breaking up your text into sections with sub headlines is a great way to make your content skimmable, but the body of your text will keep them. If your readers lose your train of thought because your sentences are too complex, they won’t stick around for you to make your point.
Grammarly will help you polish your writing and make it better. Hemingway will make it easier to read.
WordRake is a PC tool that connects with your Word and Outlook that will improve the clarity of your writing. WordRake “rakes” through your content, showing you numerous ways to improve and allows you to accept or decline the suggested changes quickly. With WordRake, editing takes less time, and drafts polishing your drafts and emails is much easier.
Unfortunately, WordRake isn’t available for Mac users, but for PC users, it is a must.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m writing, I like to tune out the rest of the world. When you can just focus on the task at hand, it makes it much easier to complete it. That’s why I use Focus while I write.
Focus allows you to temporarily block time-wasting websites while you work. We all get writer’s block or are forced to take a moment to think about what we’re going to say next. At least for me, it’s pretty easy to take a break, go to Facebook, then suddenly lose some time looking at pictures of my friends’ pets. With Focus, you can prevent this, so the time you spend thinking about your content is actually spent thinking about your content.
If writing the draft takes less time to complete, you’ll have more time to edit and redraft. You spend less time making the content and more time making the content better.
This goes beyond writing content too. You can use it to block websites as you reach an important deadline or as you approach a new project. Focus is a great all-around tool for the easily distracted entrepreneur, as many of us tend to be.
What tools do you use to write? Do you have any secret weapons that help you create better content? Let me know in the comments below.
Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC