When I was 9 years old, I started writing to my first pen pal. She lived about an hour away and we decided we wanted to keep snail mail alive. We had fun writing our letters on stationary from Lisa Frank, or paper that had flowers, and pretty designs. With not many responsibilities outside of our homeschooling assignments, we had a pretty quick turn-around time for our response to each other. On an after school trip to my small town library, I discovered a list on the back of the children’s magazine called Hopscotch For Girls. There were more girls my age who also wanted to write! After arriving back at home, I pulled out my metal tin of stationary and special pens to start writing. My parents were gracious enough to let me use their postage stamps. I used more stamps in a week then they did. Our small town post office was my favorite place to go. I looked forward to the trip to the post office every day to get the mail.
When I began writing letters, I used pencils. My mom would proofread the letters to help me correct grammar and spelling mistakes. It may have been that my pen pal fascination was part of her secret plan for creative homeschooling assignments. Whether it was or not, it worked! My spelling, grammar, and ability to write in a straight line continued to improve the more letters I wrote. Learning to avoid smearing the graphite was also a challenge as a left-handed writer. The writing practice with my 40 pen pals was paying off by improving my writing skills.
In our age of technology, things have changed. A handwritten letter is a rare commodity. Between email, texting, Facebook, phone call and other methods of instant response communication, the idea of waiting patiently for a response has diminished. This decline has allowed the expectation of constant availability to creep in.
The ability to communicate with ladies around the world within minutes is a wonderful opportunity and it connects everyone faster. With the ability to send messages faster, being aware of our spelling, grammar, and sentence structure has also declined. Words are so powerful. How we select our words says a lot about who we are; whether it’s written or verbal form.
We have so many tools available online to help correct spelling and grammar. Also, don’t ever be afraid to ask a friend to proofread. Having another set of eyes on your writing can clear up a lot of mistakes and misunderstandings. A tool I discovered for online grammar and spell checking is called “Grammarly”. It’s a plugin for Google Chrome (check if available for other platforms) that automatically lets you know if you spelled something wrong, or are missing punctuation in the things that you type into your web pages.
Add Grammarly to your web browser or your desktop:
Areas that Grammarly has helped me communicate with clarity are:
- Facebook Messanger
- Online Forms
- Group messages
- Social media posts
- Text for my blog
- Blog posts (if my Editor is not available)
Using Grammarly, and with the help of editors, I continue to learn how to be a better writer. Everyone has their own writing style and we all have areas that can be improved. Creating a habit of noticing where grammatical errors occur has allowed me to become a more intuitive writer.
Question: What online task could “Grammarly” help you with?
*The links in this post are not affiliate links. I do not receive a compensation from the purchase or use of this app or software.