I had a conversation with a friend recently that also had Dyslexia and how he loved writing too but stopped because of insecurities with his grammar and writing level. At one point in the conversation, he said,
“Yeah, but you don’t have a third-grade writing level, do ya?”
Actually, I do.
My writing level is anywhere between third and fifth grade with simplistic sentence
structures and bad comma usage. “I’ve learned my weakness and looked for ways to overcome them,” I said.
I then shared my tricks:
Grammarly.com – If grammar is your biggest issue then grammarly.com might be your solution. It’s actually an app that works with google chrome that reviews any post you create on the web, from Facebook to blog post. The free version, which is what I use because I’m poor, works as a leveled up spell and grammar checker and will analyze your work. It’ll offer suggestions for how to fix sentences, call out passive voices, and tell you if you’re using a comma incorrectly. The paid version has more features, but again I’m poor and can’t speak to them.
Howtopronounce.com – Since my Dyslexia sometimes messes with how I hear or say words, or I only know a word by sound and not by sight, I looked for a program or website that could pronounce words. Yes, some Dictionary sites have a function that’ll play the word, but I found that Howtopronounce.com has a larger database of sounds and languages, which can also be added to by users.
(I’m not being paid for this. I stumbled upon these sites a year or so ago and love the fuck out them)
Search Google with, “Define (word),” – I do this a lot when I’m unsure if I’m using a word correctly. It’s saved me from embarrassment many times. I’ll even use this method for searching up idioms and colloquialisms.
Use the synonyms function in Microsoft Word – I personally have a limited vocabulary so fancy words are not my forte. I being with a simple word then right click synonyms and chose from that list. If that doesn’t work, there’s always thesaurus websites.
Use speech-to-text functions – I would often get frustrated when I couldn’t spell a word and no amount of searching or spell check would fix it. Then I discovered speech-to-text functions with Microsoft Word and my Android. Sure it can be embarrassing pulling my phone out and saying the word, I had a few co-works laugh at me, but it saves a lot of time, effort, and frustration. Some programs will learn and adapt to how you speak, but I go with the cheapest stuff. One thing I learned is that I’m horrible at pronouncing words and that is the reason I end up misspelling some things because I spell them how I sound them out. It’s no wonder spell check returns no results so often.
I had to come to terms with my shortcomings and get over my embarrassment if I wanted to become a better writer. “I worked hard to become better,” I told him. I truly believe that anyone can write, but it takes determination and a certain level of crazy to become a good writer and that’s what sets us apart.
“Grammar should never be the reason someone can’t write,”
I’ve been saying this a lot recently, “words are only a medium, what matters is the story you’re trying to tell.” As long as someone gets the context, you can work on the rest. This isn’t the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last, that someone has said they can’t write because of X & Y reasons. There are more than enough ways to overcome such silly things as grammar.
I developed this approached over the last few years and only solidified recently as I began my journey with Pocket Change Stories and freelance writing. If I want to succeed, I can’t let my insecurities get the better of me. So I tell myself all the time,