Tag Archives: freelance writing help

Today’s Writing Tip: Using Your Spellcheck


Previously I’ve written about the drawbacks of the spellcheck device in Word, Yahoo or Gmail, or Outlook Express.

There are many disadvantages to relying on a spellcheck, starting with the fact that it doesn’t always recognize homonyms, and it will frequently miss a typo if the word is spelled correctly. For example, the grammatically incorrect sentence, “I went to give him a huge” was not flagged by my Outlook or in Word.

However, despite all its frailties, it’s critical to use a spellcheck for e-mails, articles, blogs, and, in particular, manuscripts. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that? It’s like doing complicated math in your head instead of pushing a few buttons on a calculator. I may know how to do a square root, but if a machine can do it for me and I know that it will be accurate, I would be foolish not to take advantage of the wonders of the 21st century.

The spellcheck is nothing like a calculator because it doesn’t have a 100% accuracy rate if you pump in all the right numbers like a calculator. But spellcheck will recognize a large number of misspelled words and flag all kinds of grammatical problems.

If you are writing a manuscript and submitting it to an editor, the editor determines his or her price estimate for your project based on how many hours the project will take. And if it’s not spellchecked, it will take a lot longer to do than a manuscript that has been checked. Deliver a clean product.

Enable the automatic spell-checking on your e-mail program and always push F7 when you finish an article or manuscript. It really makes a difference.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor http://tinyurl.com/7wnk5se and two erotic short stories, which she wrote under the pen name Tiffanie Good. Silver Publishing just released “The Pink Triangle,” a tale of friendship, lust, and betrayal. You can view her story here: http://tinyurl.com/6v65rgr

The Freelancer’s Friend

pc magazine

Magazines like MacLife, PC, Wired, and other tech-oriented titles can be a freelancer’s best friend. How many times have you stared down the aisles at your local Best Buy or Apple Store, bewildered at the range of prices, models, and formats wondering how to make the leap?

It’s not just computers, either. External hard drives, wireless routers, even CD-R and DVD-Rs have so many choices it’s difficult to know where to start. That’s where the tech mags come in. There’s nothing better than reading a side-by-side comparison of the latest laptops, wi-fi gear, and software; the sections these mags provide on tweaking and upgrading your existing gear? Priceless.

MacLife is, for the Apple newcomer, one of the best you can buy. The magazine is NOT written for people who already know everything about their Mac. It assumes there are entry-level readers AND more experienced tech-heads in the subscriber list. If only more magazines followed this example!

PC Magazine is a great destination for the PC user, with “roundup” type comparisons and an excellent downloads section that can have you tweaked and running more efficiently in no time. Maximum PC comes a close second, valuable for how-tos for security, work-related issues, and just plain utilitarian things like recovering from a soda spill.

Freelancers who feel lost in the world of computer jargon, installation details and other issues will do themselves a big favor by adding these sites to their favorites list.

Glossary of Terms Found in Freelance Job Ads

freelance job adsNew to freelancing? It takes time to learn how to properly interpret those Craigslist ads and other freelance job posts. Do you know what all those terms REALLY mean? Here’s the latest you should know, when you see the terms in bold, you should translate them.

Citizen-Powered–No pay

Citizen Journalist–No pay

Freelance Writers Wanted–Demand Studios wants you

Free-Lance writer wanted–Content site wants cheap writer to write SEO stuff

Get Exposure–No pay

Extend Your Reach–Examiner.com wants you
Continue reading Glossary of Terms Found in Freelance Job Ads

Clean, Well Lighted Sentences

Janis Bell takes more than three decades of teaching experience and distills it all down into a single, helpful volume I would personally love to buy for every writer in the world. When do you use “you’re” as opposed to “your”? It’s just one example, and seems obvious to some, (and it should seem obvious to more) but these writing hangups occur with annoying frequency, especially in cover letters and queries.

It wouldn’t shock any regular FZ reader to learn that I routinely delete cover letters that contain abuses of the apostrophe, but for new writers this may seem a tad excessive. You won’t have to worry about YOUR letters getting the axe if you follow the simple, clear instructions in Janis Bell’s great book.

Clear, Well-Lighted Sentences is a must-own for any beginning writer. How do you make the name “Charles” possesive? Bell spells it out. Do possessive pronouns have apostrophes? Find out. Yes, this is what many would call “the boring stuff”, but if you want to know WHY it gives me the screaming fits to see a storefront sign which reads “Closed Sunday’s”, get yourself a copy of Clear, Well-Lighted Sentences and learn how to improve your writing in ways you never even imagined.