Top 10 Tools to Improve Your Writing (Part 1)

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“The natural state of all writing is mediocrity.” – Ira Glass

Always looking to learn something new, I’m constantly striving to find new ways to take my writing to the next level. Here is a set of 10 tools which should help any budding writer improve.

1. Improve Readability with MS-Word

The Flesch-Kincaid tests are readability tests designed to indicate how difficult a reading passage is to understand. Using simple calculations, it is able to break down text to gauge the level of education needed to grasp the writing, and how hard it is to comprehend overall.

What most people don’t know is MS-Word actually comes with this test built in, so you can rate any document you produce in a few easy steps.

readability

2. Cut Down Cliches with Cliche Finder

Improve your writing by letting it come more from the heart rather than phrases which have been overused to the point of losing its intended force. Cliche finder helps identify common cliches in your writing so you can consider rewording them. It also comes with a handy bookmarklet so you can find them on any web page.

3. Look Up Words With TheSage’s Cross Application Dictionary

dictionary

A very complete dictionary and thesaurus package, TheSage can look up words directly from almost any program (IE, Word, Firefox, Outlook, Thunderbird…). It is also 100% portable and can be run off a USB drive. Completely free of course.

4. Eliminate Spelling Errors With Firefox 2

firefox One of Firefox’s best built in features has got to be its inline spell checker which helps eliminate spelling errors as you type!

If you’re using Internet Explorer 7, you can get this functionality by installing the IE7Pro plugin, or ieSpell if you’re on version 6. Then again, why bother when you should be using the far superior Firefox in the first place?

5. Learn Top Writing Techniques

lifehack

Lifehack.org has assembled a huge collection of 50 tips from the Poynter Institute which should help any writer.

“You will become handy with these techniques over time, and begin to recognize their use in the stories you read. You will see chances to apply them when you revise your own work. Eventually, they will become part of your flow, natural and automatic…”

What writing tips or tools can you share? Tell us in the comments!

Liked this article? Check out part 2 of the series.

[tags]writing, writer, writing tips, [/tags]

604 Replies to “Top 10 Tools to Improve Your Writing (Part 1)”

  1. Readability is a good topic. The ultimate aim of any writing is to encourage people and kindle their interest to read the article or whatever.

  2. As Garrison Keillor had one of his characters say in his novel Radio Romance: ‘The willingness to perform is no guarantee of talent’.
    More would-be writers should edit themselves for, interest and value before offering up their musings.
    An example might be blogging. Too many bloggers have nothing to say. There are no ideas and no passion and yet they mistakenly imagine that the world has the time or inclination to wade through their thoughts committed to text. There is more to it than that at least there should be. Wit would be nice, and sarcasm, while being the lowest form of wit, may be the highest form of intelligence, so I can accept that in a piece of work.
    I simply urge any writer who would have kept a diary or perhaps just the thoughts in his head to keep doing that. Go public when you really have something to say.

  3. That last one is a cheat. Here’s my version, then:

    #1) Ask Slashdot for writing tips
    #2) Check writing.com for writing tips.
    #3) Buy a book on writing
    #4) Click “Stumble!” on the Firefox extension until you get to a writing site
    #5) Take a writing course

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