I think everyone can agree that Microsoft Word sucks ass. It has always sucked ass, and it will always suck ass. Unfortunately, I have to use it for editing purposes, because its Track Changes feature is helpful. If I didn’t edit, however, I’d get rid of it completely. I’m reminded of how much MS Word sucks today because my “subscription payment” went through. It’s $6. Not much in the grand scheme of things. But hey. $72 a year for a program that I don’t even write in.
If you’re interested in alternative writing programs. I’ve heard people swear by Scrivener, although I can’t get into it. There’s too much going on, and I’m at the point where I outline and take notes on physical paper, so it isn’t much use for me.
Hemingway, on the other hand, has been a godsend. It has increased my output by at least 100%. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Initially, I felt repelled by Hemingway. It’s a program that analyzes your prose as you write it, pointing out adverbs and extra words. It also has a feature that will highlight sentences that are “hard to read” and “very hard to read.” I’m an editor, for god’s sake! I don’t need some computer telling me how to write!
Except I really do. One of the downsides of having “editor brain” is that it is very, very hard to turn off.
But it goes deeper than that. A sense of unease accompanies many of my writing sessions, a kind of hard-to-pin-down fear that I’m writing complete dogshit. I’m sure you’ve felt this. We all feel it. It is inescapable. Some writers have the superpower of being able to ignore this little voice and plow through to finish a draft. “First you make it, then you make it good,” as Jordan Harper says.
That’s not how I work! One day I’d like for that to be the case. But for now I’ve got what I’ve got, and I have to find a way to work with it. Hemingway seems to be the answer.
It turns out writing inside a text editor that is constantly pointing out flaws in my writing is very freeing for me. It allows me to turn that part of my brain off and trust the machine. And the scary part is that it’s right more often than not.
Usually, if I take the program’s suggestions, the sentences are actually better for it.
And I get words on the page, every day, thanks to my little AI helper.
Strange things work. This has gotten me thinking about a lot of biases that I’ve had in the past about what “real writers” are supposed to do. I’m throwing them all out. To crib from Anton Chigurh: “If the writing rules I’ve followed have led me to three slight novellas in the past ten years, of what use were the rules?”
This works, and I’m not interested in equivocating or figuring out how it fits into the larger picture of THE ARTIST or any bullshit like that. I’m looking for hard and fast results.
Give Hemingway a shot. I don’t get anything from them, obviously. Although that would be cool…hey Hemingway, give me free shit!