Why You Should Use Online Editors

A few months ago I wrote a short piece about my experience using online editing tools like the Hemingway App, Slickwrite and Grammarly.

While I liked using them, the main takeaway was this:

When I use these tools, I feel like my writing gets stripped of what makes it unique in the first place.

I want to go back on what I originally wrote about online editors. You should definitely use them.

My criticism back then — that online editors stripped my writing of its ‘uniqueness’ — is bullshit. It was my way of rationalizing why I’m a precious little snowflake; why I’m special; why I need to do things my way.

The truth is, these online editing tools — especially Slickwrite, which can break your writing down, word by word, to the most granular of levels— are so good, they reveal just how terrible your writing actually is. Once I started dumping everything into them, I realized how bad I was.

To be fair, it’s not that I was particularly awful, just that there is no real style guide for writing on the internet, and again, human editors are very busy. I can’t recall the last time I really went over things like passive voice, tense agreement, narrative pacing. I’m not sure I ever really did, but I know in the past few years I definitely did not.

A good human editor is a luxury these days. They are great. But if you don’t have one, an online tool is the next best thing. Try one. You may discover that you need to rewrite things many times before the online tool says it’s okay.

But that process will certainly make you better, and a computer will never get frustrated by your inability — it will just wait until you get things right. Asking that of a human being, well, that’s asking a lot. People got shit to do.

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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