Recently, I decided that my writing skills needed an upgrade.

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I do work for one of those writing mills, and wanted to pump up my scores. So I found a website that would grade my ‘active verb’ usage. Then I learned how to better utilize my favorite search engine.

Instead of getting better, my scores went down. So much so that I am on ‘probation’ right now. Yes, it is a blow to my ego. And, yes, I am doubting everything that I write. Everything.

Here is the problem. Despite making improvements, I never saw this coming.

My scores were all over the place.  An article with many corrections would be rated highly, an article with few changes brought down my average. I guessed the rating by how my average went up and down. I never saw the actual rating for each story although I did read the track changes so I would know what was and was not changed.

I saw many commas added and realized that is where I failed consistently. And that is where I worked to make improvements.

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Strangely enough, I recently found a writer’s group that really gets wonky about grammar and punctuation. I love it because it will only help me improve.

I love knowing I am expected to go over a story with a red pen and make lots of marks. Heck, if I want to throw in comments about content that is welcomed as well. I love it!

There is something exhilarating about reading other people’s work. You see how other people tackle their topics and bring about memories/feelings. Suddenly, you are inspired to write something because of a great line or paragraph in that work.

For now, I am limbo with the story mill. I have to write three stories and if they make the grade, I get all of my privileges back. Yipee?!?

I also know I am not the only one. Judging by the comments on the board at that website and other sites, there are a lot of people getting the same e-mail as myself. Some of their reported ratings are much higher than mine and it makes me wonder just who is being targeted.

It’s obvious to me this action by the story mill will weed out writers who no longer want to write these 400-500 word articles on some pretty ridiculous titles or cannot improve their skills.

If that pushes you to look elsewhere for writing jobs, that is the upside.

How are you upgrading your writing skills and career?