As I began my journey of writing, I fell hook, line and sinker for the ultimate advertising ploy. Grammarly had picked up on my algorithms and slowly, subtly plugged away at me through sidebar ads, facebook and even my Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran Youtube playlist (no judging, please… I bet you have some secrets in your playlist… Maybe a bit of Take That, Mariah, even Biebs?)
So, in the naive rookie mindset that I was in, I convinced myself that I needed every tool in the world and not just talent and an idea to make me a writer, I went to the website with gay abandon and signed up. Because on payday, what else do you do? It wasn’t a new pair of shoes, a bottle of gin, no I was improving myself! I harped onto my husband that I was investing in myself. Cue the “yes, dear” right here.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a case of buyers remorse, more so the case of the old adage –
“You need to walk before you can run”
So for every few words I wrote, she sat over my right shoulder almost like the devil dictating. The only difference being is that there was no angel on the left shoulder. Since the initial purchase of Grammarly, I have accumulated a hard drive load of some first and second chapters, unfinished short stories and the odd poem – still in draft mode. Yes, you are seeing a pattern. A LOT OF UNFINISHED WORK. The ideas flow for the first thousand or so words, then I am distracted. The sidebar is pointing right at me with her stern index finger. Just like that teacher who worked a decade too long. Old, cross and determined that she is right and you are wrong. A list of faults that require “critical attention” are highlighted and just like that, the idea runs away, right alongside my confidence.
On the flipside though, I believe Grammarly feels as though she is my cheerleader. A weekly email blast about how well I’m doing compared to between 70% – 97% of other Grammarly users should bring me back on board, but truth be known it hasn’t. The programme and the email seem to have a very Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde persona.
You see, it’s taken me until today to think about how many very successful authors have written without anything more than a paper and pen, typewriter or computer. The answer is – hundreds, thousands. I bet Jane Austin, Ernest Hemingway and co are just sitting up in the silver city pulling the absolute mickey out of people just like me.
On an ordinary day, I would never consider myself a fool. I don’t always need everything brand new, my car is nine years old and my computer – God love her – is only a year or so newer and both are still in great working order, touch wood! But, naivety definitely got the best of me here (even as Grammarly is actively correcting this post – I have to get my money worth!).
It may come to chalking it up to a new year, or possibly the life-changing events of 2018 but I have to say, I confronted my devil this week. I chose not to listen to her. Well, maybe not completely. But as I have been told by more than one person –
“The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
So, what did I do you ask? I looked at her differently. Not as a tormentor, more so as a mentor. I took what advice she provided that suited me and discarded the rest. Yes, I know she can’t provide that filter, she isn’t programmed to deviate, but I AM. As I write this blog, my current manuscript (a romance novel) of 12,819 words has 59 critical issues. I plan to at this stage to only address 10% of these at most. My story is flowing and I am happy. I’ve written more this week than I have in the last six months or so.
I am filled with pride and a new determination. I’m really excited to see what I can do in 2019. Not just by myself, but with my new pal, Grammarly.