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Wondering ‘Is ProWritingAid Worth It?’ An Honest Review

Update 2023: Is ProWritingAid worth it? Well, turns out I STILL use and love ProWritingAid. Most of the issues I had originally have been resolved with updates, so if you know you wanna try ProWritingAid, you can get a discount with my ProWritingAid referral code here. I will get a small bonus and you’ll get a ProWritingAid discount! Win-win!

I’ve used ProWritingAid for a little over a year now. I loved it so much when I tried it that I got the lifetime license and haven’t regretted it. ProWritingAid helped me edit two stories for flash fiction contests, including my Midwinter!verse prequel, Witch Soup. I thought I’d never find a “con” for PWA, but I just did. Here’s my honest review of ProWritingAid.

I’m currently editing the third book in a romance series my co-author and I are finishing up and we’re doing a final line edit before we rapid release all three books. Well, I say we’re doing a final line edit, but what I really mean is she’s zooming through a final line edit and I’ve been torturing myself with PWA for 2.5 weeks.

ProWritingAid is a grammar checker, style editor, and writing mentor in one package. Say goodbye to typos, passive voice, awkward sentences, and more when you use ProWritingAid’s free editing software on your writing.

Before we dive into my own personal review, here are some questions I got a LOT.

Questions I Get Asked About ProWritingAid

ProWritingAid vs Competitors Like Grammarly

When it comes to polishing your prose, ProWritingAid is just better.

Where Grammarly shines in quick fixes, ProWritingAid helps you do a deeper edit on your writing, and teaches you along the way. It’s like the difference between a quick drive-through wash and a full detail for your car—both have their place.

ProWritingAid excels with its in-depth reports and style suggestions that not only correct but also educate, helping you understand the why behind the changes. This feature is especially golden for those looking to evolve their writing skills, not just patch up errors.

While tools like Grammarly, AutoCrit, and others each bring their strengths—be it user-friendliness or niche focuses—ProWritingAid’s comprehensive toolkit makes it a standout choice for writers seeking to refine their voice and style meticulously. It’s the kind of tool that grows with you, adapting to your needs and deepening your understanding of your own writing, which is invaluable.

What is the main purpose of using ProWritingAid?

The main purpose of ProWritingAid is to elevate your writing beyond the basics of grammar and spelling. It’s not just another Clippy from Microsoft Word or plugin to help you write better emails.

It’s like having a coach who not only points out the slips in your voice, style, and prose, but also coaches you on the whys and hows so you can get better and need PWA less over time.

ProWritingAid offers detailed feedback on style, readability, and sentence structure, which helps you refine your voice, enhance clarity, and ensure that your prose flows just right. It’s tailored for writers looking to deepen their craft, making their text not just correct, but compelling and polished, too.

It isn’t just about avoiding errors; it’s about mastering the art of writing.

What integrations does ProWritingAid have with other platforms?

ProWritingAid integrates smoothly with some of the platforms you’re likely already using. For those of us living in Word documents or Google Docs, ProWritingAid has handy plugins that bring its robust editing tools right into your workspace (and although I have caveats here — see below — it has gotten better).

No more flipping between apps; you can polish your prose right where you create it.

If you’re a Scrivener enthusiast, rejoice! ProWritingAid connects directly to Scrivener projects, making it a breeze to edit large manuscripts where stories come to life. And its browser extensions make sure your writing is sharp and effective across websites and platforms like WordPress, too.

They have added more integrations over time and I imagine more will be coming too, like for Ulysses and other online Scrivener alternatives.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the software?

ProWritingAid is like that one friend who’s always got a thoughtful piece of advice—not just a quick fix. It’s a “fixer.”

Its strengths lie in its comprehensive analysis of your writing. It delves deep into style, grammar, readability, and more, offering you tailored suggestions that help you understand not just what to change, but why. This is perfect for anyone looking to really refine their craft and learn as they go.

Plus, its integrations with popular writing platforms like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Scrivener mean that this tool is as versatile as it is insightful.

Alas, every silver lining has a cloud. For some, ProWritingAid’s thoroughness can feel a bit overwhelming. It might throw a lot at you—reports, suggestions, analyses—and if you’re just looking for a quick grammar check, it might feel like overkill. The learning curve can be steep for those not used to detailed editing software.

Additionally, its performance can lag a bit on longer documents, which might test your patience if you’re on a tight deadline. (See my original review below).

In essence, ProWritingAid is fantastic for writers committed to evolving their writing deeply and broadly, but it may be a bit much for those who need a quick, light-touch edit.

Who Should Use ProWritingAid?

ProWritingAid is a gem for any writer who’s serious about digging into the mechanics of their craft. It’s ideal for authors, both fiction and nonfiction, who are ready to go beyond surface-level edits and really refine their narrative style and voice. Academics and students will find its detailed reports on readability and style indispensable for making complex ideas accessible and engaging.

Bloggers and content creators can also benefit hugely from ProWritingAid’s insights to ensure their posts are clear, engaging, and professional. Even business professionals, who need to communicate clearly and effectively in reports or emails, will find its advanced editing tools a boost to their productivity.

In short, if you’re someone who values depth over speed in the editing process and sees writing as a craft to be honed, then ProWritingAid is tailored for you. It’s not just about correcting; it’s about perfecting.

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ProWritingAid Negatives

ProWritingAid Can’t Edit in ‘Chunks’ on Google Docs

After we whipped up a 73,000 word novel (we didn’t actually whip anything; it whipped us… for months) we did a huge developmental edit on all three books. I talk about what it’s like writing with a co-writer in this post. After the developmental edits, we jumped right into line edits. This is where things got frustrating.

We’d always written and edited together in real time, so when plot or character problems arose, we could talk it out right then. For the line edits, we thought it would be faster to each do our own read-through with our own Track Changes edits. That way we’d catch everything and neither of us would slow the other down. Since we’re ~17 hours apart, depending on Daylight Savings, it would save a ton of time.

Only, it didn’t. We both have lifetime subscriptions to ProWritingAid. All 3 books were written in Google Docs, and we wanted to edit using the ProWritingAid add-on for Docs. The issue?

Google Docs can’t take it.

When you’ve got a big document, Google Docs starts to slow down. (When I wrote fanfiction, I’d usually start a new doc every 20,000 words or so, even if it was in the middle of a story.) Our doc was 75,000 words. When you start adding a lot of suggested edits and other comments, Google Docs gives up on life. We tried running a report with PWA in Google Docs and we nearly lost our entire book from the resulting crash.

Lesson learned: We saved 4 extra copies.

But the problem with ProWritingAid specifically here is that we should be able to “chunk” sections to edit. In an ideal ProWritingAid world, we’d be able to highlight a single chapter and run a PWA report for that chapter only. But that doesn’t work. In Google Docs, PWA ignores highlights and runs a report for the entire document.


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What’s the Solution to ProWritingAid Crashing Google Docs?

The best solution I’ve found is to split your novel into as many separate Google Docs as is necessary and sensical. You can probably get away with 10-15k chunks. This can be really unwieldy, and it didn’t work for us in our specific case because when you copy/paste text from one Google Doc to another, you lose the comments. We had a ton of notes saved in comments that we needed to keep through the edits, so we couldn’t split ours. However, this does work if you plan ahead of time!

Solution: If you’re writing your novel in Google Docs, write your story 10-15k chunks, with each chunk in a new document. You can save all these chunks in one folder in Google Drive. Once you get to edits, the ProWritingAid Google Docs add-on will work fine with each segment. Once your novel is fully edited, you can combine it into one document.

ProWritingAid Doesn’t Work with Mac Word

My co-writer downloaded a copy of our novel as a .docx. When you do that, you do retain all suggested edits (Track Changes) and comments in the .docx file. Since she uses Word with Windows, she had no problem importing this document to Word and using the ProWritingAid Word add-on.

I, on the other hand, learned the true meaning of Apple Angst. For the first time since switching to Mac 7 years ago, I deeply regretted it. Deeply.

ProWritingAid does not offer a Mac Word add-on. According to ProWritingAid’s help docs:

Microsoft Word on Mac doesn’t have the same framework for Add-Ins that Word on Windows does. We therefore can’t create an Add-In. We’d love to, but it’s just not possible.

ProWritingAid

So it doesn’t look like my luck will change here anytime soon. Sorry, Mac users.

However, I’m not a Word user anyway. I’d actually only installed the trial to edit with PWA so when I realized it wouldn’t work, I moved on without any heartbreak.

How can you use ProWritingAid with Mac Word?

If you’re using a Mac, and you don’t have access to a Windows computer, you can use ProWritingAid’s desktop app instead. It’s a separate application downloadable from the ProWritingAid site. You can copy/paste your novel into the ProWritingAid desktop app and run PWA reports, as well as edit your novel, from within the PWA app.

It’s a great app, and I would have used it, but it does strip formatting and comments, including prior Track Changes. Also, when you confirm the edits in the PWA desktop app, it inserts them without Track Changes, even if you have Track Changes turned on. Because I was working with a co-writer, I needed to have Track Changes so that she could accept or reject all changes I made.

Solution: The ProWritingAid desktop app is a great solution for authors writing alone, but may be trickier for those who co-write.

ProWritingAid on Word for Windows with a Windows Emulator

As a long-time Mac user, I’ve got an app for that. Or, I thought I did, anyway. I have Parallels, which is a Windows emulator for Mac users. Whenever I need to run something that I can’t run on Mac at all (very rare!) I run it through Parallels. Feeling very clever indeed, after failing to use ProWritingAid with Word for Mac, I opened up Parallels to run Windows Word in the emulator.

Didn’t work. Too much memory needed to run the emulator, Word, and ProWritingAid all at once.

I do have a 2019 iMac, so it can handle almost anything. It just couldn’t handle that.

Can You Use ProWritingAid on Word for Windows with a Windows Emulator?

In theory, yes. You’d have to close literally everything else unless you’re running an iMac Pro. It’s going to require a lot of memory so be prepared for lag and possibly some misery.

I did not have the patience for that (I’ve got an 18-month-old and a (few) job(s)!) but it could work for you if it’s your only option.

ProWritingAid Desktop App

When you’re on a Mac, you’ll most likely be using the ProWritingAid desktop app. It integrates with Scrivener and a few other word processing tools. As a writer, Scrivener will probably be the one you’re interested in.

Ultimately, I used the ProWritingAid desktop app with Scrivener because I could automatically split each of the chapters into separate sections with Scrivener. But it’s not a perfect solution. I still lost Track Changes and formatting once the edits were saved back to the Scrivener file.

Screenshot of ProWritingAid report.

ProWritingAid Chrome Extension

ProWritingAid also has a Chrome extension. I keep this enabled only for Gmail. Be aware if you enable it anywhere you can write in rich text, it can add some funky hard coded CSS to your text input. For example, it always gave me trouble when I had it enabled on WordPress. It’s great for making sure your emails are free of silly their vs. there typos before sending them off, though!

So why do I still use and love ProWritingAid even though it frustrated me while editing this book?

Because it’s honestly amazing! Yes, I did run into a perfect storm of frustrations with this book, but with a little planning, I could have avoided all of it. Now that I know, I’ll plan better next time. My hope is my story will help you plan better, too. ProWritingAid really can make your writing sparkle and I truly believe every writer is better off using it.

Overtime, your writing truly will benefit from the ProWritingAid reports. I’ve noticed that I make silly mistakes way less, and my voice is so much stronger now.

It helps you catch things you might otherwise miss because you’re too in the weeds with your story to see the issues. When you read something as much as we writers read our own work, all the errors start to disappear. Our brains know what’s supposed to be there and supply it for us, even if it’s not really there. That’s how we end up with silly they’re vs their mistakes!

ProWritingAid will catch those for you. It’ll also help you develop your style, improve readability, improve pacing and flow, and catch inconsistencies with your own made-up world-building names. It reminded me, for example, that we only capitalized the word ‘magic’ in very specific places, and it made sure we got all the capitalizations right.

ProWritingAid Has a Ton of Interesting Reports to Nerd Out Over

  • The Writing Style Report
  • The Grammar Report
  • The Overused Words Report
  • The Clichés and Redundancies Report
  • The Sticky Sentence Report
  • The Readability Report
  • The Repeats Check
  • The Sentence Length Report
  • The Pronoun Report
  • The Transition Report
  • The Consistency Check
  • The Pacing Check
  • The Dialogue Tags Check
  • The Contextual Thesaurus
  • The Diction Report
  • The Alliteration Report
  • The Homonym Check
  • The Acronym Check
  • The House Style Check
  • The Plagiarism Report

But ProWritingAid Doesn’t Replace a Real, Live Human Editor

Even if you get a professional editor to edit your novel, you want it to be as clean as possible before you hand it over to them. This will save you money and save the editor time fixing little things, so they can focus on deeper edits that will make your novel stronger overall. If you’re thinking of getting a manuscript critique for your novel, I would recommend running ProWritingAid reports before and after. You want the editor to be able to focus on the story, not the adverbs.

I asked Lewis from The Novel Smithy what he thought about writers running their manuscripts through ProWritingAid before sending them to him for developmental edits, and here’s what he said:

Whenever I take on a new client and review their manuscript for the first time, I always cross my fingers that they’ve completed at least some editing of their draft. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, which means I spend a lot of my time sifting through unclear sentences and typos rather than getting to analyze their story itself. ProWritingAid can help you catch run on sentences, passive voice, grammar, you name it—all of which will make your editor’s job easier and the feedback you get better. It’s really a win-win for both of you.

Lewis Jorstad, The Novel Smithy

I’m currently working with Lewis on developmental edits of my first book and have been really impressed with his process. Check him out at TheNovelSmithy.com. Not only does he run a fantastic writing blog, he also offers editing services at a very fair rate.

So, use ProWritingAid to clean your manuscript up as much as possible before sending it off to an editor. It doesn’t hurt to do one last run with PWA before publishing to Amazon, too.

If you want to give ProWritingAid a try and get a 20% discount, use my code: ProWritingAid Discount – 20% Off. (This is an affiliate link, by the way. If you choose to purchase a subscription to PWA with my link, I may get a small commission.) The 20% discount works on all license options (including lifetime!) so you can really get a great deal on it.

Is ProWritingAid Worth It?

Ultimately, for me, it’s a big YES. And they seem to be working on improving things all the time, too.

What do you think? Have you tried ProWritingAid yet?

Let’s change some lives,

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Holly

PS — 🩵 When it feels right, here are 3 ways I can help you turn the page:

  1. The Book Map. Imagine having a GPS for your book-writing journey, guiding you from “I think I have an idea!” all the way to “OMG, I did it! I wrote a book!” That’s what the Book Map can do for you. It’s a supercharged roadmap for your writing journey. It’s not just about outlining chapters; it’s about diving deep into what you want to say and the best way to say it, ensuring every word pulls its weight. You’re not just writing a book; you’re crafting a masterpiece that feels as if it almost writes itself. Ready to make your book dream a reality? Let’s Book Map it!
  2. One-to-One Book Coaching. I have a vision of changing the world one book at a time, by teaching world-changers to create a book in a gentler, more effective way. A way that takes both you and your reader on a profound journey. I see a future where we build trust in our words, worlds, and work with our books, and where the world becomes a better place because of the books we write. My commitment is to bring to life books—fiction and nonfiction—founded on integrity. I’ll bring the map, and you’ll take us on the journey. If you’re ready to change the world with your book, your quest awaits. Apply for a free discovery call here. It takes 3 minutes.
  3. Listen to the Podcast. The Book Coach Chronicles: A podcast for writers of books, people who want to be writers of books, and y’all in the back who’ve been thinking about it but don’t yet consider yourself a writer. Listen on AppleSpotify, or Everywhere Else.

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Holly Ostrout is a book coach with a vision of changing the world one book at a time, by teaching big-idea entrepreneurs, coaches, speakers, and authors to create a book in a gentler, more effective way. A way that takes both you and your reader on a profound journey.
Holly Ostrout

Hi I’m Holly. If you’re going to change the world with your book, fiction or nonfiction, I can help you do it.

I'm a book coach for high-achieving, creative coaches, consultants, service providers, speakers, and authors who want to build a sustainable business around their book—whether that’s fiction or nonfiction.

I help you share your wisdom, ideas, and gifts by writing & publishing a life-changing book that helps you streamline your business, bring in more money, and change more lives.

I believe books are the most important human invention. And yours can change the world.

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Joyful, Easy Writing Can Be Yours​

Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Tracker & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.

Mockup of The Writing Ritual Creator from Holly Ostrout

Joyful, Easy Writing Can Be Yours

Writing Ritual Tracker from Books & Alchemy

Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Tracker & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.

Mockup of The Writing Ritual Creator from Holly Ostrout
Before you go...

If You Want to Change the World with Your Book, You've Got to Write It.

Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Creator & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.