“Overused phrase. Consider revising,” my word processing program—Apple’s Pages—admonishes. “Wordy, verbose, cliche.” In my mind, I hear an 8th-grade grammar teacher with a British accent snort as I ponder Pages’ suggestions for improving my writing.
When Pages talks, I listen. I need all the help I can get. Pages asks that I refrain from starting sentences with the word “but.” Ditto for “and.” Pages thinks I overuse the em-dash, admittedly my favorite punctuation mark. Pages tells me to vary my sentence length, helping me create a more pleasant rhythm to my writing. It’s worth noting that I haven’t used Pages to write this piece. Sometimes I just want to write without worrying about the critique.
Pages prefers Helvetica to Helvetica Neue, my favorite font. Pages holds some inexplicable prejudice against the word “service,” which makes me think Pages is selfish. Pages hates when I use the modifiers “pretty” and “very.” Pages doesn’t get why I employ three words to say something better said with one. Pages thinks “use” is a better word than “employ.” Pages has a judgmental tone when it points this out.
Pages can open documents created in Microsoft’s despicable Word (though Word can’t repay the favor). Pages is multilingual, multifunctional, intuitive, and smart. I think I’m in love with Pages.
Now that I know what Pages expects from me, I’m examining my impulse to pepper my writing with adjectives and adverbs. Pages knows the strength of good writing rests on verbs. My goal is to create an entire sentence comprised of nothing but verbs, to maybe even create my own verbs, one day soon.
As I put the finishing touches on my first book—Flying Free: Life Lessons Learned On the Flying Trapeze—I feel grateful for Pages’ tutelage. I believe Pages has made me a better writer.