Paul Deines

Using Grammarly as an Independent Writer

By Paul Deines

We’re all human, right? Those of us who make a living filling blank pages with ideas and stories contend with our fallibility all day.

I happily acknowledge that my writing isn’t perfect. These days, I produce an average of fifty-thousand words per month from my clients. At that volume, I only have time to give a piece a quick revision and a final read-through before submitting. Occasionally, I’ll call in a fellow writer to read through something for an extra bit of oversight.

Notwithstanding these limitations, I want to provide the best possible work for my clients. So, the Grammarly application has become invaluable to my writing process.

What is Grammarly?

For those unfamiliar, Grammarly is a free app that functions as a digital proofreader and editor. It flags spelling, grammar and punctuation issues. It locates redundant and overwrought phrasing, too.

I tend to write fast and dirty, then clean up later. This app is a lifesaver in that regard. Essentially, it outsources the proofreading that I know I will miss late at night when I’m on deadline.

How is Grammarly different from a normal spelling-and-grammar check?

All decent word processors come with a spell-check and grammar tool. However, I can attest that Grammarly is far more sensitive to the kinds of numb-skulled errors writers make a hundred times a day.

I’m especially atrocious when it comes to hyphenating two-word phrases like put-upon or, well, two-word. Grammarly always catches this. I constantly type form instead of from. For some reason, I tend to type to instead of the. The app locates all of these without fail.

Plus, its interface is amazingly clean and intuitive. You can easily scan for red-lined errors and with one-click, substitute its suggested edit.

Also, beyond the examples written above, Grammarly flags passive voice, overly intricate sentences, word choice concerns, just to name a few examples. Granted, you must pay for a premium membership to receive suggested fixes for these issues. I much prefer reviewing the flags, which can tip me off to unwieldy writing I need to revise.

An Important Tool in Your Belt

Grammarly isn’t perfect, of course. I do most of my writing in Scrivener, and currently, there’s no plug-in for that platform. So, I either copy my text over to the app, then make corrections in Scrivener; or I do my proofing after I export to Word.

One pet peeve is that it defaults to including the Oxford comma, which I almost always choose to omit.

But these are minor quibbles.

After all, Grammarly is not a catch-all fix. It’s a tool.

I always give my work a read-through after running Grammarly. As we all know, finding typos and grammatical errors is just the tip of the iceberg when you’re revising. You need a human eye to detect subtext and tone. The app might catch an errant note, but only you can fine-tune the melody.

The humbling fact that every writer must accept is that no amount of diligence or raw intellect can guarantee a perfect draft if you’re the only person reviewing it. Grammarly gives you a second pair of eyes.

(As a final note, I ran this short article through Grammarly, and it identified six errors.)

About Paul Deines:

Paul Deines is a New York-based writer focusing on beer and culture, sometimes together and sometimes separately. His work has appeared recently in SR-Mag, Brew Studs, and Hop Culture.

As a freelancer for hire, he ghostwrites novels, crafts marketing copy and contributes dialogue for video games and other digital content.

An occasional playwright, Paul’s plays have been performed both online and on stage around the country. In his spare time, he enjoys experimental cooking, classic cinema, watching football, attending the theatre, and constructing playthings for his daughter.

You can read more of his work at his website, The Curiograph ( or follow him on Twitter @thecuriograph.

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