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Top 10 Apps That Write Essays for You in 2024 (Free & Paid)

Senior Content Marketing Manager

February 13, 2024

You have a big research paper or essay due soon, and you’re looking for a way to save time and energy or enhance the way you write. You’re tired of staring at a blank page, hoping it’ll magically become your best assignment yet.

What you need is an app that writes essays for you.

There are lots of essay writing tools available for every possible use. Whether you need an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that helps you draft the outline, generate text for different sections, or improve your essay to make it sound better overall, you’re in luck.

In this guide, we’re sharing with you the 10 best essay-writing apps available today. Each one offers writers, students, and other essay writers of all kinds a better way to get started or finish your assignment.

Let’s explore the options for apps that write essays for you, and let’s start writing better essays together. ✔️

What Should You Look for in Apps That Write Essays for You?

3. writesonic, 4. essayailab, 6. sudowrite, 8., 9. ai-writer , 10.

Like any type of essay writing service or product, not all of these apps are built the same. Some AI content tools are designed for research and outlining, while others excel at transforming your words into compelling thought pieces, arguments, or statements. 

As you consider which essay writing app is best for you, think about the following. 

  • Use case: Is this app designed for essay writing? Or is it a more generic AI writing tool? 
  • Features: Does the app have the research, writing, or proofreading features you need? Does it offer you even more options?
  • Ease of use: Is the app easy to use? What’s the user experience like?
  • Ratings and reviews: What do real-world users think of the app? 
  • Language: Does the app only work in English? Can I write in another language or translate my essay?
  • Pricing: Is there a free version of the app? Does it have an affordable or expensive monthly subscription cost?

These questions should lead you closer to the best app that writes essays or academic papers for you. Consider what matters most to you, which features you can live without, and what’s your number one priority for this app—then use our top 10 list to find your ideal match. 🔗

The 10 Best Apps That Write Essays for You to Use in 2024

With an ever-increasing number of AI writing tools coming into existence, it can be overwhelming to figure out which ones are worth trying. That’s why we’ve brought you our shortlist of the 10 best essay-writing apps for 2024. 

There’s something here for everyone—whether you want a dedicated essay writing tool, an AI tool that can assist with all types of writing or an all-in-one app that lets you do so much more than just improve your writing skills or optimize your assignment.

ClickUp may be known as a productivity and project management tool for businesses, but it’s also a great place for writers and students of any level. ClickUp provides you with a destination to store and work on your ideas, research, and writing—and features to prioritize your work throughout the process.

One of the best features for essay writing is ClickUp AI . Our new user-friendly AI writing assistant is tailored to your role, with a huge variety of use cases, tasks, and features, depending on how you want to use the app. Use ClickUp to assist with brainstorming essay or research paper topic ideas, summarizing your essay to write an impactful conclusion, or rewriting paragraphs so you sound more professional.

All the ideas and words you generate with our AI assistant live inside ClickUp Docs . Not only is this Microsoft Word and Google Docs alternative a great place to store notes and ideas, but it can become your personal wiki or repository for all your essay writing needs—one of our favorite productivity hacks . 

Store ideas, notes, citations, essay drafts, and interview notes in one place. Format your Docs, add images and colors, and personalize the experience so writing your essay is more fun.

If you’re not sure where to start, the Writing Guidelines Template by ClickUp is your go-to place to get clarity on how to write the best content. The template includes advice on being consistent across language, tone, and formatting so you can produce error-free, cohesive, and accurate content every time. 

With ClickUp AI, ClickUp Docs, and our comprehensive Template Library , ClickUp has everything you need to start writing your best essays yet. 🤩

ClickUp best features

  • Store all your essay or assignment notes, drafts, and files in one place
  • Invite mentors to collaborate with you or share real-time feedback within your Docs
  • Use ClickUp AI to generate high-quality ideas, rephrase sentences, and create text for your essay
  • Streamline your process and get inspiration with relevant templates
  • Save time and work faster by using ClickUp to assist with research, writing, and as a focus app while you work

ClickUp limitations 

  • With so many features and use cases, some users may need a while to explore all the possibilities of using ClickUp
  • ClickUp AI is a new feature, so the functionality will grow and develop over time

ClickUp pricing

  • Free Forever
  • Unlimited: $5/month per user
  • Business: $12/month per user
  • Business Plus: $19/month per user
  • Enterprise: Contact for pricing
  • ClickUp AI is available on all paid plans for $5 per Workspace member per month

ClickUp ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.7/5 (8,700+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.7/5 (3,800+ reviews) 

Apps that write essays for you: example of an essay written by Frase

Frase is an AI content creation tool that combines writing and SEO research to create copy that’s easy to read and designed to rank in search engines. This AI writing software can pull background research and stats from search results, and the outlining tool makes organizing your thoughts into a coherent essay easier. 📝

Frase best features

  • Source stats, research, and background information directly from search engines
  • Create an outline with structured headings and sections
  • Use AI to generate introductions, FAQs, headings, and more
  • Write, edit, and share documents easily within Frase

Frase limitations 

  • Frase is designed for individuals and agencies working on SEO copy, so some of the features may not be relevant for essay writing or academic writing
  • Some users report that sometimes the text output can be repetitive on the essay-writing app

Frase pricing

  • Solo: $14.99/month per user
  • Basic: $44.99/month per user
  • Team: $114.99/month for three users

Frase ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.9/5 (200+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.8/5 (300+ reviews) 

Bonus: Check out 7 Free Content Writing Templates for Faster Content Creation

Apps that write essays for you: Writesonic's dashboard

Writesonic is a comprehensive copywriting and paraphrasing tool that gives you the features to write, edit, optimize, and improve your content writing—including essays. Writesonic’s feature list includes an AI writer, paraphrasing tool, text expander, article summarizer, and idea generator. 💡

Writesonic best features

  • Get factual content with data pulled from top search results to help find the best essay and academic papers
  • Upload documents to guide the tool on your unique style for a more personalized writing style
  • Paraphrase your text or get a summary of your essay in one click
  • Check your essay before you submit with a built-in spell checker, grammar checker, and plagiarism checker

Writesonic limitations

  • Some users may run into issues with word count limits, especially for writing essays and longer assignments
  • You may need to prompt multiple times to get longer responses, some users suggest

Writesonic pricing

  • Unlimited: $20/month per user
  • Business: From $19/month per user

Writesonic ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.8/5 (1,800+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.8/5 (1,800+ reviews) 

Apps that write essays for you: screenshot of EssayAiLab's search tool

EssayAiLab is a free AI essay writer app that helps users find ideas, write essays, and edit for grammar before they submit. This dedicated app that writes essays for you has a range of niche features including Modern Language Association (MLA) and American Psychological Association (APA) citations and a hypersensitive plagiarism checker. 🔍

EssayAiLab best features

  • Search through millions of credible results to surface the most relevant information when writing essays
  • Find new ways to compose sentences with automated suggestions to speed up the writing process
  • Check for issues with the built-in grammar checker and plagiarism checker
  • Automatically generate MLA and APA citations in one click across the entire essay

EssayAiLab limitations 

  • There aren’t many user reviews of EssayAiLab, so it’s hard to get an idea of what other users think about this free app
  • This essay writer app is designed specifically for essay writing, so you may wish to explore other essay apps for other types of academic writing

EssayAiLab pricing

Essayailab ratings and reviews.

  • Capterra: N/A

Apps that write essays for you: example of an essay written by Jasper

Jasper is one of the most well-known AI content writing tools available today. This popular tool specializes in generating short-form and long-form copy that’s aligned with your brand—which is a plus point for users who want to compose multiple essays that sound like them.

Jasper’s features include an AI writer, a chatbot, and a template library. Easily make suggestions for word count or for optimizing academic writing in a specific style or tone.

Jasper best features

  • Share documents to train the AI on your personal paper writing skills and style
  • Access recent search data to check facts and add credibility
  • Edit and optimize your essays so that they read professionally
  • Check for any issues with a built-in plagiarism checker

Jasper limitations 

  • Some users, especially students, may find the pricing model unaffordable
  • Sometimes the outputs don’t always feel relevant, some users suggest
  • No real free version compared to some other AI essay writer apps

Jasper pricing

  • Creator: $39/month per user
  • Teams: $99/month for three users
  • Business: Contact for pricing

Jasper ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.7/5 (1,200+ reviews)

Example of an essay written by Sudowrite

Sudowrite is an AI writing tool that bills itself as a writing companion. This tool is designed for creative writers and authors working on stories and scripts, but many of its features—like autocomplete and rewrite—translate well to academic writing.

This essay-writing software also helps you hone in on your specific writing style for more clarity and readability—so you produce the best essay possible.

Sudowrite best features

  • Automatically complete sentences and paragraphs i the writing app
  • Use rewrite to add variety to your essay language and improve readability
  • Get suggestions on replacement words to enhance the impact of your sentences
  • Get feedback on how to improve your essay within the app

Sudowrite limitations 

  • Sudowrite is built with creative writing in mind, so it may not be the best option for professional essay writers or business users
  • As it’s a relatively new tool, there aren’t many reviews from real-world users yet
  • Writing app has no real free version

Sudowrite pricing

  • Hobby & Student: $10/month for 30,000 words
  • Professional: $25/month for 90,000 words
  • Max: $100/month for 300,000 words

Sudowrite ratings and reviews

Example of an essay written by Rytr

Rytr is an AI-powered content writer and writing assistant that’s ideal for a variety of uses including business ideas, emails, cover letters, and essays. The platform asks you to choose a use case and add context, and it’ll create content based on your goals and prompts. ✏️

Rytr best features

  • Choose from 40+ built-in use cases and templates
  • Use scientific copywriting formulas to make your essays more persuasive
  • Expand, reword, and polish sentences to make them read better
  • Submit your essays without worry thanks to the built-in plagiarism checker

Rytr limitations 

  • Some users report that the facts given can feel basic or repetitive compared to other apps that write essays
  • The AI writer can cut off mid-sentence if you run out of credits, which can happen unexpectedly

Rytr pricing

  • Saver: $9/month per user
  • Unlimited: $29/month per user

Rytr ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.7/5 (700+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.6/5 (10+ reviews) 

Screenshot of HyperWrite's essay writing and summary tool is an AI copywriting tool that blends research, writing, and personal AI assistance to create a useful tool for writers. Its features include a summarizing tool, an intro generator, a speech writer, and a universal translator. 💬 best features

  • Use AI to help you write an essay on any topic
  • Generate a list of essay topic ideas before you start writing
  • Rewrite content so that it sounds more powerful in enhances your writing ability
  • Summarize text to automatically create summaries and conclusions limitations 

  • There’s no built-in plagiarism checker, so you’ll need to use another app for this
  • As a relatively new tool, there’s little social proof and few reviews about HyperWrite pricing

  • Premium: $19.99/month per user
  • Ultra: $44.99/month per user ratings and reviews

  • G2: 5/5 (2 reviews)
  • Capterra: N/A 

Example of AI-Writer's Content Marketing

AI-Writer is a new AI writing tool that bills itself as “the only AI text generator built to be trusted.” This app focuses heavily on citation and transparency, which is a bonus for those writing essays or assignments. AI-Writer’s features include research, AI writing, verifiable citations, and text rewording. 📚

AI-Writer best features

  • Automatically generate a full article draft or an entire essay draft in minutes
  • Get citations for every source that AI-Writer pulls data or facts from
  • Reword your text so that it sounds more professional or persuasive
  • Automatically generate a list of references that you can include when you submit your essay

AI-Writer limitations 

  • Like many AI essay writing apps, this one is designed with SEO copy in mind so the workflow may not feel relevant for essay writers
  • Those with longer assignments may find the per-article word cap too small (especially for those who write essays regularly)

AI-Writer pricing

  • Basic: $29/month per user
  • Standard: $49/month for three users
  • Power: $375/month for 10 users

AI-Writer ratings and reviews

  • Capterra: 5/5 (1 review) 

Example of a blog post written by is a comprehensive AI content marketing toolkit designed for marketing teams and agencies that want to boost engagement and revenue by creating content at volume for their content calendar . As part of this, the platform has a range of copy generators that can help you create a strong essay title, essay copy, and more. 📣 best features

  • Generate introductions, titles, content ideas, and more
  • Get unique outputs every time you run the generator
  • Experiment with 13 different writing styles
  • Available in 17+ languages limitations 

  • is designed for marketing teams, so essay and assignment writers may find the range of features distracting or unnecessary
  • The product isn’t explained in as much detail as other AI writers, but there is a free plan you can experiment with pricing

  • Pro: $15/month per user
  • Unlimited: $19/month per user ratings and reviews

Ace your next assignment with the best essay writing apps.

There are lots of essay writing apps out there that claim to be the best, but we believe those in our shortlist live up to the title. Explore these apps that write essays for you, test some out, and find a new way to make your essay-writing process easier.

As you explore the apps above, we recommend prioritizing ClickUp. Our all-in-one app doesn’t just come with an AI writing tool—it’s a destination for all your notes, drafts, tasks, interviews, and files throughout the essay writing process.

Gather your thoughts, write your essay, make improvements, and more—all within one app.

Try ClickUp for free today to understand why it’s appreciated by so many writers and students. ✨

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10 apps that help you write essays.

Writing essays can be hours of long work reading and writing. To help you hand your paper in faster, we’ve compiled the top 10 apps that write essays for you.

Published on Jan 19, 2022

By Dave Rogenmoser

whats the website that writes essays

Writing essays is a skill you need to pass many high school classes and even college or university courses. However, not everyone has the greatest writing skills, and even then, great writers sometimes don’t have the time to write everything. 

Plagiarism is another common concern when in school and should be taken seriously, considering it can get you kicked out of education. Instead of paying a hefty fee for essay writing services, take advantage of the best essay writing apps available to help you score your next A+. 

10 top apps that write essays for you

We’ve found the top online apps and websites to help you decide on your thesis, collect your research, and help you through the paper writing process. Some of these apps are AI-based and can help you with the writing process, while others will help you improve your productivity and ability to gather information effectively.

  • Wordtune Read
  • Essay AI Lab
  • My Assignment Help Essay Typer
  • Paper Typer

Jarvis home page - apps that write essays for you

Jasper is an AI writing tool with the power to write essays for you. The Long-Form Assistant template allows you to start typing and let Jasper fill in the rest. 

In the word processor, you can tell Jasper what tone you want to write in and any keywords you want to include. This is key for optimizing academic writing that will be published online. 

In the screenshot below, we asked Jasper for help on an essay about writing A+ essays. We shared some content information as well as our desired tone. Jasper delivered

  • Optimizes written content for ranking on Google
  • Finishes your sentences for you
  • Has a Bootcamp to learn even better ways to use Jasper
  • Includes over 50+ templates for different writing needs
  • Rated 5/5 stars in over 1000 reviews
  • Paid membership required

Pricing: Jasper offers several flexible pricing plans ranging from the $39/mo Creator plan to custom Business plans for an enterprise-level solution.

2. Papers Owl

Papers Owl Screenshot - Apps that Write Essays

This quick thesis statement generator makes the most out of the first few sentences of your essay. Add in your information and the AI generates a paragraph to introduce your essay.

  • Online website tool
  • No registration required
  • Receive three outputs each time
  • Requires that you know your thesis already — which requires prior research
  • You need one to two supporting statements already

Pricing: Free

coggle - apps that write essays for you

Coggle is a mind mapping app. These visual diagrams help you decide on your essay topic, organize all your points, and know which ideas are linked to each other. Coggle is available for iOS and Android devices and as a Google Chrome extension.

  • Available as an online website tool, browser extension, or app
  • Collaborate with up to three other people
  • Make unlimited mind maps
  • Download your map as a PDF or image
  • Most maps will be public
  • Requires registration
  • The free version has no custom line paths

Pricing: Free forever. Paid plans start at $5/month.

4.  Wordtune Read

Wordtune Read Screenshot - Apps that Write Essays

Wordtune’s app Wordtune Read reduces your reading time by summarizing paragraphs in long articles and essays. This example shows how Wordtune Read turns a long academic research paper into a three-minute read by summarizing essential points on the right.

Wordtune Read Screenshot - Apps that Write Essays 1

  • Summarizes long articles and documents
  • Allows users to upload a document or link to a research article
  • Users can export the summarized points as a Word document
  • Available as a Google Chrome extension
  • Can only export as a Word document

Pricing: Basic version is free, but there are options to upgrade. Paid plans start at $9.99/month.

5. Essay AI Lab

Essay AI Lab screenshot - Apps that Write Essays for you

Essay AI Lab searches the internet for relevant information for you and conveniently puts it all together in an essay. All you have to do is provide the guiding title and prompt. 

Essay AI Lab’s writing process allows you to choose each paragraph in your essay from tens of samples. This word processing tool is excellent for finding resources while writing your essay.

  • Includes citations and research references in APA or MLA format
  • You choose each paragraph for your essay
  • Paraphrases to eliminate any plagiarism concerns
  • Completely free to use
  • Requires registration to save or download your work
  • Rephrasing can change word meaning
  • Some citations come from blogs and news sources

6. My Assignment Help Essay Typer

My Assignment Help Essay Typer Screenshot - Apps that Write Essays for you

This word processing tool is very similar to Essay AI Lab but has a few more benefits. In addition to providing pre-written paragraphs on your topic, you can hire an expert at any point to jump in and help you finish your paper.

  • Includes other free tools like a summary generator and paraphrasing tool
  • App available for iPhone or iPad and Android devices
  • Works best as a research tool
  • Reviews claim they do not give refunds for failed services

Pricing: Free 

7. Paper Typer

Paper Typer Screenshot - Apps that Write Essays for you

Paper Typer writes you an entire essay in seconds after you tell it the subject of your paper. This AI essay writer app creates appropriate formatting for your essay as well. It offers headers and subheaders to write the best essay possible.

  • Entire paper in seconds
  • Unlimited sessions and edits
  • You can edit citations on the same site
  • Covers a wide range of information on the topic
  • Only works for simple subject topics
  • Fact-check needed to ensure proper citations
  • Edits required to prevent plagiarism

Pricing: Free for students.

8. Wordtune

Wordtune Screenshot - Apps that Write Essays for you

Wordtune upgrades your academic papers with professional writing using AI algorithms. This text editor uses AI to rewrite sentences and paragraphs up to 280 characters long. 

This tool works best to polish introductory or concluding sentences or summarize a long point. You can upgrade to the Premium plan to make your sentences more formal, more casual, longer, or shorter. 

  • Designed to improve the quality of your essays
  • Free version available
  • Has extensive customer support
  • Limited free membership
  • Won’t write essays for you; only improves pre-written text

Pricing: Free online. Premium plans start at $9.99/month for unlimited use.

9. AI Writer

AI Writer Screenshot - Apps that Write Essays for you

AI Writer is another fully AI essay writer. Write your title or headline on the homepage, sign-up, and receive access to an original draft, citations, and relevant SEO-friendly content. 

  • Free 1-week trial
  • Optimizes content for SEO
  • Has a 2-minute turn-around time
  • Saves up to 50% of your time compared to starting from scratch
  • Writes in English only
  • Membership required
  • Does not use all-academic sources
  • Reviewers say the essays are not high-quality

Pricing: Paid plans start at $29 per month.

10. Readable

Readable Screenshot -Apps that Write Essays for you

Readable is a web-based text analyzer that helps to improve your writing’s readability score. Readability refers to how complex your writing is. For example, college essays typically have a higher readability score than high school essays. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is the academic standard for determining readability, which Readable uses in their analysis.

Improving your readability score can lead to clearer writing and higher grades.  

  • Offers a 7-day trial of ContentPro version
  • Grades your paper
  • Shares your word count as you write
  • Analyzes the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
  • Free version is very limited
  • Requires an account to download your work

Pricing: There’s a free version. Paid plans start at $8/month.

Write A+ essays with Jasper

While there are several apps that write essays for you available in the market, Jasper stands out for several reasons. 

Our AI writing assistant was designed to be your writing partner. Instead of generating content from a template, Jasper is a “thinking” app. It draws on its knowledge of 10% of the internet and writes naturally — almost like a human would.

You can use Jasper’s Blog Post Outline template for outlining and the Long-Form Assistant for essay writing. You can also take advantage of the Blog Post Introduction and Blog Post Conclusion templates for starting and finishing strong. 

You will get 100% unique content with Jasper — zero plagiarism. You only have to think about proofreading, using a spell-checker, or any final revisions.

What are you waiting for? Sign up for Jasper today.


Meet The Author:

Dave Rogenmoser

Dave Rogenmoser

Dave is the Co-Founder Jasper , a Y Combinator-backed tech company based in Austin, Texas. He is also a husband and father of 3 boys.

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Blog • Perfecting your Craft

Last updated on Feb 07, 2023

The 50+ Best Writing Websites of 2024

The Internet is full of writing websites and blogs to help people reach their creative goals . If you’ve always dreamt of writing your own book, but don’t know how to get there — or if you’re in the process of writing, but feel unsure about what to do next — then it’s your lucky day! Here we have all the best writing websites of 2024 in one single place for your convenience. They’re also organized by category, and alphabetically within each of those categories, to make each one easier to find. Enjoy!

Best writing websites for writing craft and inspiration

writing websites

1. Almost an Author

Offering up new content every day, Almost an Author covers a grand scope of writing topics. From genre-specific advice to emotional support on your writing journey, there's tons of useful info here for beginner and veteran writers alike.

2. Association of Writer & Writing Programs

Having just marked their 50th anniversary, AWP is one of the premier authorities on writing. The AWP website provides resources and ample opportunities for authors, teachers, and students at every point in their career. Here you’ll be able to find information about writing programs, career options, and conferences all over the world. Keep in mind, though, that access to some of these features is restricted to members only.

3. Creativity Portal

This is a wonderful hub for creative resources that has been around for a whopping nineteen years! Here you can find writing prompts , creative coaching, printable writing templates, and interviews with authors that will help nourish the right side of your brain.

4. Daily Writing Tips

As the name suggests, this site offers daily writing tips ranging from open-ended prompts and exercises to grammar, spelling, punctuation, and vocabulary. It also covers all writing levels and professions, so it doesn't matter how far along you are in your writing career — DWT is sure to help you out.

Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a master’s degree, you can get your own "DIY MFA" right here! This site (founded by Gabriela Pereira ) aims to cover everything you would learn in a graduate program, while giving you the freedom to choose your own areas of concentration and allocate your time as you please. 

6. Electric Literature

While not exactly a craft-focused website — so no straight-up writing advice or prompts — this nonprofit digital publisher showcases literature-related essays, criticism, and recommended readings. If you're looking to brush up on both literary theory and recent literary trends, Electric Lit is the place for you.

7. Fiction University

This virtual university, run by award-winning author Janice Hardy, contains tons of advice and concrete examples to help authors build a strong writing foundation. It's full of blog posts by professionals who share their own processes and techniques, providing tips not just on what you should do as a writer, but on how  to make it happen.

8. Helping Writers Become Authors

Longtime author K.M. Weiland offers writing advice that ranges from outlining and structuring to characterization and dialogue — plus all the little details in between. She updates her blog faithfully with topical posts that would pique any writer's (or non-writer's) interest.

9. Insecure Writer's Support Group

Writing is intimidating for everyone , whether you're a multi-published author or you're just starting out. That's why getting support, guidance, and motivation throughout the process is vital! On IWSG, you'll discover a wealth of information on writing, publishing, marketing, and anything else you might need to ultimately overcome your insecurities.

10. Literary Hub

LitHub boasts a superb selection of content for all things literary. Here you can get all the latest book-related news, posts on design and the craft, your daily dose of fiction, and sparkling reviews of new works. One of this site's best features is its section on literature in translation — a great resource for those who want to read books and authors from around the world.

11. LitReactor

The LitReactor blog consists of writing classes, workshops, and a myriad of posts on writing and books ( some of which are even written by us! ). There’s also an online magazine that includes interviews, criticism and analysis, and seasonally appropriate reads and recommendations.

12. LitRejections

An unfortunate occupational hazard of with writing is rejection. This is where a site like LitRejections comes into play! It offers personal stories to help discouraged writers persevere through rejection, and maintain hope and motivation as they move forward in their careers.

13. Live Write Thrive

In this website by professional writer and editor C.S. Lakin, you’ll find plenty of nuanced writing anecdotes and tips. Lakin also supplies annotated critiques that can help you prep your book for publication.

14. NaNoWriMo

Besides serving as the official information hub for NaNoWriMo , this site also lends constant support for those struggling to "win" National Novel Writing Month. Make sure to check out the NaNoWriMo forums, which are chock-full of other people's personal writing tips and strategies to get you through November — and every other month of the year — as a writer.

15. Now Novel

This comprehensive website, founded by author Bridget McNulty , is a go-to for just about every writing-related question you might have. Here you'll also find advice, courses, and even an author dashboard where you can keep track of your own writing progress.

16. Positive Writer

If you often feel uncertain about your creative abilities, this is the site for you. Bryan Hutchinson created Positive Writer to encourage and inspire all those who want to write, no matter how much experience or confidence they have.

17. ProWritingAid

ProWritingAid offers a fantastic manuscript editing software that analyzes your writing and creates reports for you to learn from! This tool also includes a thesaurus, grammar checks, style suggestions, and more — you can learn all about it on the ProWritingAid blog, or in our review of the app !

18. She Writes

A well-established writing website with a feminist bent, She Writes is "the largest online community and content site for women writers... all around the world." The site features thoughtful posts and resources to help writers on their journeys, as well as a personal She Writes blog page for every user who signs up.

19. Well-Storied

Here you can find recent articles, workbooks, tutorials, and fascinating discussions on writing. Kristine Kieffer has an extensive archive of posts as well, where you can procure information on just about any topic related to books and writing.

20. The Write Practice

Fulfilling the promise of their name, every single post on this site emphasizes putting theory into practice! There's simply no better way to become a writer than by creating a routine, and that’s exactly what The Write Practice helps facilitate.

21. Writer’s Digest

Writer's Digest is one of the most encyclopedic writing websites out there — after all, the print magazine has been around for almost a century now! Here you’ll find genre and vocation-organized articles, events and competitions, webinars, templates, tutorials, and so much more.

22. Writer Unboxed

Writer Unboxed features articles by authors and industry professionals, focused specifically on the craft and business of fiction writing.

23. The Writing Cooperative

Plain and simple, this is a group of people who want to help each other become better writers. On Writing Cooperative, you will find articles that cover just about every aspect of the writing life. They also have monthly writing challenges to keep you incentivized, and there’s even a space where you can submit your own article to the blog!


This is an absolutely all-inclusive community for writers . It’s open to all levels and provides a creative, supportive environment for all members, as well as portfolios to store and display their writing. Like most writing websites, it also includes a plethora of writing tools , contests, and rewards.

25. Catapult: Don’t Write Alone

Don’t Write Alone is a blog written by the Catapult team dedicated to helping writers grow their skills. As a publisher and magazine founded in 2005, Catapult has seen a lot of works and now they’re spilling all the details. From interviews, to craft essays, to writer lifestyle essays, Catapult covers it all.

26. Kirkus Review’s Writers’ Center

Kirkus Review is known for its prestigious $50,000 dollar annual prize and its bi-monthly issues where they critique hundreds of recently published books. But, did you know they also have a section of their website devoted to helping emerging writers grow their skills and navigate the publishing industry? They’re always up to date on the latest trends — if they aren’t creating new trends themselves.

27. Writers Write

An invaluable resource for creative writers, business writers, or bloggers, Writers Write offers over 1400 articles, courses, and workbooks to help you take your writing practice to the next level. Alongside their educational content, they offer book reviews, trivia on famous authors, and prompts. Sign up for their inspirational newsletters for regular hits of motivation that will keep you writing.

28. The Narrative Arc

Beginning as a home to Andie R. Cranford’s writing journey, The Narrative Arc is now a treasure trove of practical tips and prompts to inspire your creativity. Breakdowns of popular books are particularly handy for the budding author — but whether exploring writing for the first time or tightening the bolts on your Franken-novel, the site's ideas on craft are elegant and inspiring.

Best writing websites in the publishing industry

writing websites

29. Agent Query

This database allows authors to perform in-depth searches for literary agents . You can narrow your search by genre and keywords, view agents’ full profiles, and see if they are currently accepting queries — all for free!

30. The Creative Penn

Besides being a bestselling author on various topics, Joanna Penn is also a leading voice in self-publishing . On her punnily named site, you’ll find abundant information related to writing, self-publishing, marketing, and everything else you mind need to make a living as a writer.

31. Digital Pubbing

Digital Pubbing provides industry news, interviews with indie authors, and resources for learning all about ebooks and the publishing industry. In accordance with the name, this is the perfect site for any author hoping to absorb some serious digital knowledge.

32. The Independent Publishing Magazine

We know it might seem like we're repeating ourselves, but this website really is all about publishing (both independent and traditional, despite what the name indicates). Whatever info you need about self-publishing, trad pub, or hybrid publishing , you’ll definitely be able to find it here.

33. Publishers Weekly

And if you have a specific question about the publishing world, you’ll most likely find the answer here. This weekly magazine is packed full of news, reviews, announcements, and many other resources on the industry. It has been dubbed as "the Bible of the book business" and with its extensive archive, it’s easy to see why.

34. Publishing Perspectives

Publishing Perspectives is another leading source of publishing info, specializing in industry news and topical articles. Aimed at publishers, agents , and authors alike, it features a variety of posts that cover book fairs, distribution, education, and much more.

35. Query Shark

Not sure where your query letter is up to snuff? Query Shark offers the opportunity to have your query critiqued, and to read detailed query critiques of other authors' letters, so you can get the best possible results for your book. Be warned, though, that this sharp-toothed feedback isn't for the weak of heart.

36. Writer Beware

This amazingly thorough site compiles information on schemes and scams that affect authors , especially those run through email and the Internet. It’s sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, but obviously applies to authors everywhere. If you're a fresh-faced author trying to get published, definitely check it out — it could save you from losing thousands of dollars in an elaborate scam.

37. The Darling Axe

When the industry professionals at The Darling Axe aren’t working on manuscripts, they flock to the internet to share their hot takes on the publishing industry. They also host writing contests throughout the year to build a writing community and give unpublished authors the chance to get feedback from professionals.

Best writing websites for marketing and design

writing websites

38. David Gaughran

An experienced author of historical adventures, short stories, and popular books for writers , David Gaughran is one of the definitive writing experts out there. His eponymous blog contains plenty of info on marketing and self-publishing, plus workshops to help aspiring authors. And similar to Writer Beware, he's the noble opposition of online publishing scams and scammers — so if you're frustrated by these issues, you'll discover a blissfully sympathetic voice on his blog.

39. Kikolani

Focused specifically on marketing, Kikolani offers tips and strategies for bloggers who want to grow their presence and attract more readers. Here you’ll find information on brand development , social media, customer retention, and other useful tips that you can put to good use as a blogger. (If you're just getting started, though, we'd recommend this course .)

40. Kindlepreneur

Dave Chesson is — in his own words — a “digital marketing nut.” His blog has all the information you could ever need about Kindle book publishing , how to write to market, increasing your rankings on Amazon, and lots more practical tips and advice.

41. Storiad

Storiad is a marketing platform that helps authors and publishers sell books. Go here for essential information on writing apps , databases, tools, and budgeting to help you run your own publishing campaign from start to finish.

42. Writers & Artists

Part of the distinguished Bloomsbury, Writers & Artists has quite a few articles on writing and the self-publishing process. They also offer editorial services and events on many different topics, like genre-specific writing courses and how to get connected with agents .

43. Your Writer Platform

Naturally, this site is dedicated to building your very own writer platform. There are tons of tips, resources, tools, how-tos, and even individual consulting services to help you build the platform that works best for you and your marketing needs.

Best writing blogs by industry professionals

writing websites

44. Goins, Writer

Bestselling author Jeff Goins created this blog to share his thoughts on writing and to inspire others to chase their creative dreams. He's especially good at breaking complex topics down into digestible bits — new writers, go here for your primers.

45. Jane Friedman

With copious experience in the publishing industry, Jane Friedman offers online classes and articles on the entire process of book publishing. She's a real goldmine of business knowledge, so keep her in mind for when you're ready to publish your book.

46. Nail Your Novel

As a bestselling former ghostwriter who now publishes under her own name, Roz Morris provides advice about writing, self-publishing, and of course, ghostwriting . If you're interested in becoming a ghostwriter, be sure to check out her courses!

47. Nathan Bransford

Nathan Bransford is a former literary agent who posts all about the inner workings of publishing, as well and information on agents and self-publishing. He also does consultations, edits, and critiques . 

48. Rachelle Gardner

Skillful agent Rachelle Gardner has negotiated over 200 contracts with over twenty publishers and helped more than 100 authors fulfill their dreams of publishing. On her blog, she offers writing, publishing, and social media coaching, along with general writing and publishing tips.

49. Kris Writes

For regular insights from a New York Times bestselling author, look no further than Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog. On Mondays, she posts free short stories for authors to find inspiration in, and Wednesdays she posts in her “Business Musings” collection where she breaks down news from the publishing industry and offers her inside opinions. 

50. The Marginalian  

Maria Popova describes her site as “a record of my own becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually, poetically — drawn from my extended marginalia on the search for meaning across literature, science, art, philosophy, and the various other tendrils of human thought and feeling.” She sends out a Sunday newsletter with thoughtful deconstruction of the week’s best liberal arts goings-on to help broaden her readers’ appreciation of the creative world.

51. John August

For all the screenwriters out there, John August co-hosts a weekly podcast with fellow screenwriter Craig Mazin discussing both the craft and business of screenwriting while breaking down popular movies. To help screenwriters really get a feel for the process of working with a studio, John has posted multiple versions of scripts from different stages in the production process on films and series he’s written, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory , Big Fish , and Chernobyl .

What are some of your favorite writing websites? Let us know in the comments below!

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Best essay writing websites according to A*Help

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with busy schedules and never-ending to-do lists, leaving no time for academic assignments. Thankfully, custom writing services are available to assist with a range of tasks, including essays and dissertations. However, finding a trustworthy provider can be challenging due to limited information and a lack of genuine reviews.

Our experts have conducted a real mystery shopping and compiled a list of the top essay writing services that can get the job done for you when you have a lot going on. To ensure transparency and consistency in our evaluations, we have developed our own rating system called A*Help score.

  • PAPER QUALITY (LOWEST) service logo

PaperWriter is a professional academic writing service which offers a number of assignment options, including essays, reports, and even term papers. It offers student-friendly prices and a refund guarantee.

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Essay Writing Websites: Finding the Best One for Your Needs

Academic help for students.

High school graduates are usually inspired by these ageless uplifting words of wisdom on their graduation day: “The world is your oyster”, “The sky’s the limit”, and “You can do anything you set your mind to”. At first, many still have enough power and strength to overcome every hill and mountain they meet on their academic route. But long nights, endless lectures, piles of projects and essays, pressing deadlines, and high demands can easily drain any aspiring learners. The A*Help team understands that taking a breather is a must. Here, we present a list of websites that will write essays for you, take the stress away, and most importantly, provide help with any assignment on this long and exciting educational voyage.

Academic Help is a transparent platform where you can find relevant information and valid recommendations on what essay writing help website to choose for your personalized needs. With that being said, we review and work with all sorts of homework help companies, be they fast, expensive, or cheap essay services. This way we make sure that they can stand the pressure of demanding university and college lives. Should we give our trusted readers the most unbiased opinion, we work with every platform and assess all available features and the final task result. Then, our experts filter through our experience and grade the service based on value-for-money, overall experience, and paper quality criteria.

Through our background, we have reviewed many companies with an abundance of options and features that can be the ideal fit for every learner who is currently baffled with their academic life. Hence, the A*Help team wants to remind you to check out the list of the best essay writing service when you are wading through the stressful and overwhelming process of juggling multiple assignments and responsibilities, which can be made easier with the help of a reputable essay writing website.

Why Use Essay Writing Websites?

Education life is tough. It is filled with a plethora of extracurricular commitments and personal aspirations. Being overwhelmed with various tasks it is only natural for students to search for help from within. College essay writing platforms are the solution to their trouble with time management and meeting deadlines. Essay writing websites alleviate this stress by taking on the burden of writing, allowing students to prioritize other important tasks . Moreover, expert writers with extensive experience in academic writing, ensure the delivery of well-researched, high-quality content that meets university standards and essay requirements. Besides, such platforms are adept at creating customized essays that align perfectly with these specifications, ensuring that the final product meets the expectations of the professor or the admissions board.

The key features when selecting the best website for essay writing

Stress and anxiety can shift a student’s focus and impede the search for a credible homework-help website. That’s why our testing strategy is a perfect balance of analytical and practical approaches. We understand where learners’ worries come from and our goal is to take them away and facilitate academic life.

We are as strict and meticulous in our evaluations as every professor. Unquestionably, we pay most of our attention to the final result of the essay. But we tend not to forget about the whole process of interaction with the service. To put it mildly, we do judge a book by its cover. And we check all essential aspects of the user journey.

The Academic Help team does not stop there. We strive to find legit paper writing websites. Hence, for a more professional take on things A*Help collaborates with US professors who give us expert commentary and evaluation.

The best essay writing website: the legitimate factor

Nobody wants to get scammed. The A*Help team values students’ precious time and money. Hence, even before considering working with any essay writing company, we peruse and analyze the available information online. Every feedback and insight is valuable for our reviews. We sieve through many comments on trusted resources not only to find the most positive testimonials but also negative ones. This is one of the most fundamental ways to check each essay-writing website’s legitimacy. Our aim is to share with the readers only professional and trusted resources. So, by gathering real users’ feedback and ensuring that the service is indeed informative, welcoming, and user-friendly, we verify its professionalism.

Our experts believe that this approach shows a more genuine and transparent view of the essay writing platform. Such a comprehensive technique gives an extensive understanding to students.

Final words: How to choose a top essay writing website

Finding the best paper writing site can be considered hard. But with the right approach and mindset, every learner can certainly find a platform that can take their academic trouble away. Top essay writing websites comprehend the level of anxiety students have and the endless projects that are always left unfinished.

So, to find the platform that covers all educational needs and shows high-quality results there is one thing that is worth remembering – personal research. We highly recommend focusing on the quality of content and paper, adherence to university standards, and the ability to meet specific essay requirements. Additionally, various key features, such as revisions, affordable pricing, secure payment options, wide scope of services, efficient customer support, and the legitimacy of the website should also be considered. Besides, a service that really aspires to be that one flexible helping platform, offers customized essays, keeps up with deadlines, and provides reliable services such as free revisions, a money-back guarantee, and originality reports.

What website writes essays for you without plagiarizing?

When searching for an essay writing website students should not forget about checking the plagiarism feature. Since there is a pool of platforms that are not reliable and can produce low-quality paper, every student can reassure themselves by contacting support and asking if there is a plagiarism checker on their website. Or whether the writers themselves run the written pieces through the plagiarism detector before submitting the work.

Are there any legit essay writing sites?

Homework-help writing companies cater to students’ academic needs by crafting papers according to their requirements and preferences. Academic Help has interacted with and tested a lot of services and products available online, so our team can state that there are definitely many legit paper writing websites for different students with various needs.

Judging by personal experience, the search is long and tough. But what we certainly recommend doing to everyone, is personal verification. We believe that it is only safe for students to check the service’s reputation, policies, and overall reputation online. Our team does the same but helps with our more in-depth approach, we can also double-check the platform’s attitude toward cheating and plagiarism, as well as their position on academic misconduct. This way, every learner can make a conscientious decision when looking for extra help on the Internet.

Can I trust online essay writers?

When students are alone on the Internet they feel less protected. The same happens when they try to search for a homework-help website online. Learners may doubt their choice and keep pondering: “is Academized a scam?”, or “is Grademinders legit?” , and “are there professional writers in CustomWritings?”. Without proper research and analysis, it is going to be a long road. First thing first, it is recommended to opt for legit essay writing websites that have many trusted users online. Additionally, every learner can browse through the feedback and reviews from former clients. While on that, we advise focusing the attention not only on the transparency policy but only on the level of service. Available plagiarism and grammar checkers, skilled and experienced writers, and high-quality papers in the outcome are the telltale signs that this essay writing website can be trusted.

Writer-customer communication

The cream of the crop when it comes to essay writing websites are the ones that let you chat directly with the writer. Why is it essential for students? For starters, it means learners can tell them exactly what they need, straight from the very beginning. No more Chinese whispers, just clear instructions so the writer knows exactly what the student is after.

Besides, coordinated customer-writer communication goes far beyond that. Sometimes, students are willing to chip in with ideas or ask how things are going with the assignment. Writers, on the other hand, would need to clarify some details about whether they have to add extra tweaks here and there.

Moreover, such an open online conversation helps to build trust. Meaning, writers always keep the students in the loop. So, when a service offers this kind of chat feature, it’s a good sign that this platform is serious about making sure its clients are satisfied with an outcome.

The main criteria for top-notch paper writing websites

Regardless of the aim, whether to find a service to get help with an essay, research paper, or thesis writing, there are many details to keep in mind. Undoubtedly the final goal is to find trustworthy and reliable sites whose experienced writers can provide a high-quality paper . Whether a student chooses to surf the Internet to search for proof or they decide to trust their gut feeling and try the service on their own, there are essential moments to consider.

Paper quality

The fundamental part of our experiment is the quality of the final paper. There are numerous reasons why learners want and need to seek assistance in writing their essays. Therefore, they have to keep in mind that if they set out to find an essay writing company that produces exceptional papers, the search can be a long one. As practice shows, there are enough homework-help services available online, many of which provide substandard outcomes, and some fail to address your specific subject matter requirements. Moreover, others tend to have fishy rules and policies that are deliberately deceiving students.

When the final decision is made, and learners are waiting to receive the final paper, we advise focusing their attention on the following things. A satisfactory written piece that follows the American university standards should tick the following boxes, such as a wide range of language aspects, namely grammar, spelling, and word choice. Besides, the reasoning, logic, integrity, and objectivity of the written piece are also subject to detailed verification. If all the aspects are taken into account and the final result follows the initial instructions this shows that the chosen service does put in a lot of work to show outstanding results.

Revisions are a necessary aspect of every reliable essay writing website. While students can provide enough vital information and detailed instructions on the final paper, and writers can produce high-level work, still the possibility to polish the final result should be available. More reliable platforms offer revisions free of charge. Say, a writer misunderstands the introductions or does not cover a certain aspect of the paper or the student is not satisfied with certain details and asks to refine some aspects. The bottom line is that it is natural to ask for a revision since you are already paying for a quality service . However, please note that if you do choose to request a revision there are individual rules on essay writing websites. Meaning, the writer cannot improve the paper in split seconds but propose an extended deadline for enhancing the final result. With that said students have to bear in mind that there can be some bumps on the road so it is better to have some time to spare in case revisions are needed to achieve the desired outcome. It is important to understand that the process of improving the paper may require some time. Hence, having extra time available is beneficial to ensure a smooth revision process.

Pricing and discounts

The best paper writing site is not only the one that writes high-quality pieces but also the most budget-friendly. This ratio is hard to reach, yet possible. So, the next essential feature that all learners should keep an eye on is pricing. Many who seek assistance in any form or shape want to find something on the more affordable end since students are not ready to splurge on more extra things. But there is one thing to consider: no matter how hard you want to save, different papers with different urgency deadlines will have different pricing . Imagine a scenario where a student completely forgets about a deadline given by their professor. They suddenly realize they need a two-page essay written, and they only have three to four hours to do it. They don’t want to risk failing the class due to this oversight. Since there is an urgency factor, many platforms would ask for a higher price for all the hassle.

However, many essay writing websites try to be flexible and customer-oriented. That’s why learners can always take advantage of using the platform’s bonuses, order coupons, loyalty programs, and referral schemes. These can help students save money and indicate that the service values its customers.

Payment options

In today’s digital age, providing a variety of secure payment options is crucial for any online business, including essay writing websites. Users should have the freedom to choose a payment method that they’re most comfortable with. While plenty of transaction options like credit or debit cards, bank transfers, or digital wallets such as PayPal or Apple Pay are usually offered, having these options is just part of the story.

What’s equally, if not more important, is how safe your money is during these transactions. Students have to be certain that these essay writing platforms are taking every precaution to safeguard their financial details from any potential risks. Top-rated essay-writing companies invest in secure payment gateways that protect users’ financial information from potential online threats. Such services use encryption technology to securely process transactions and keep sensitive data safe.

Moreover, it’s worth checking if the website has a clear and fair payment policy, so that questions like “ is 123helpme legit in payments?”, or “is Paper Coach a fraud?” do not worry you. We always recommend looking for details on refunds, or possible additional charges, and how the service handles disputes about payments. Knowing these details can help avoid any unpleasant surprises down the line.

Available services

The scope of available services is an essential element to consider when choosing an essay writing website. Students who seek a helping hand come from various educational backgrounds. Obviously, they require assistance with different task types. Starting from basic high school essays to more complex university-level research papers and dissertations. Moreover, services should also include different types of writing such as argumentative essays, narrative essays, descriptive essays, and expository essays. Furthermore, they should be able to handle specific tasks like admission essays, scholarship essays, or term papers, along with proofreading and editing services.

The ability of a service to cover a wide array of subjects is another important factor. Additionally, the service should have qualified writers across different fields of study. This ensures that no matter the topic, the service can provide an expert to handle your specific needs. Not only does it provide a peace of mind to the students but shows that the service can be trusted to handle different types of work.

But a cry for help from students does not stop there. Especially, international students require more support in this situation. While for some studying in a foreign language is no trouble at all and they can cope with homework on their own. Others, on the other hand, experience an array of mixed feelings and cannot go about starting to write an essay not in their mother tongue to meet the expectations of their higher education establishment. Therefore, the availability of writers with different writing styles and skills is especially beneficial to such students.

A truly top-rated service would extend its support beyond just writing essays. Some homework-help platforms offer additional resources and guidance to aid students improve their language proficiency and writing skills. For instance, this could include providing language enhancement tools, offering one-on-one sessions with their expert writers, or providing feedback and suggestions to help students improve their writing style.

Customer support

More often than not, service is the key to a successful customer’s journey. It is, indeed, to reassure that learners are not dealing with their troubles alone and can always contact experts who have answers to their burning questions. With this regard, the support team should always show stellar results when it comes to assistance. First and foremost, all learners appreciate the availability. The round-the-clock helping team that is accessible through social media messengers, as well as the site messenger, ensures that all queries and concerns are addressed promptly, regardless of the time zone and time of the day.

Professional essay writing websites usually have well-trained customer support teams that can help resolve issues ranging from payment problems to inquiries about the services offered. They should also assist in tracking the progress of your orders and facilitate communication with your assigned writer.

The speed and quality of response are also crucial. Usually, students expect to receive speedy answers with clear and comprehensive instructions. Not only does the support aid in resolving issues but also contributes to a smoother, more satisfying customer experience.

Service’s Reputation

The reputation of the essay writing website is another vital factor to consider. The service’s reputation is a mix of timely high-quality work delivery and excellent customer service. A good reputation is usually built over time, so consider how long the service has been in operation. It never hurts to emphasize that checking reviews and testimonials from previous customers is a must. Such a practice can give you a clear idea of the quality of work the service provides.

A reputable service will be transparent about its policies and operations. It will have clear terms and conditions, a solid privacy policy to protect your personal information, and a transparent pricing structure with no hidden costs.


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10 best free websites on how to write an essay

how to write an essay

Figuring out how to write an essay in English can be hard if it’s not your first language . Fortunately, there are great tools and resources online that teach you how to write an essay. The best part? Most of them are free.

Whether you need to identify the different types of essays or to check your grammar, our top 10 picks below will help.

Do note these tools are meant to assist you in writing better essays. It will be unethical to enlist the help of an online provider in writing your assignment. Not only does this defeat the purpose of completing your assignment, but could get you suspended or even thrown out of university.

how to write an essay

Understanding the nuances of writing an essay will help you deliver better work. With the Internet, you’ll have an easier time writing your essays. Source: Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP

1. International Student

Learn how to write different types of essays  through a handful of detailed, actionable articles at their Student Essay Writing Centre.

Here, you’ll find tips for writing general essays, scholarship essays, and admission essays. They also provide samples for you to refer to if you need extra guidance on writing a specific topic.

2. Grammarly

Grammarly needs no introduction. This website uses artificial intelligence to  review your spelling, grammar and punctuation . If you’re afraid of missing grammatical errors and wonky phrases in your assignment, this tool can help to capture these mistakes.

Once you’ve uploaded your assignment on Grammarly, get a friend to check through your work, as you never know what the website might have missed. 

3. Hemingway Editor

The Hemingway Editor App  highlights common errors and suggests ways to create simple, concise, and engaging content with its unique user interface known as the “Write” and “Edit” mode. Amendments to sentences created by the writer are colour coded.

4. The Purdue Online Writing Lab

Like the International Student, this website contains detailed articles using  specific reference styles, subject-specific writing, and teaching resources . 

Remember to bookmark this website as they constantly update it to inform readers of changes to popular citation styles, like the Modern Language Association, Chicago, American Psychological Association, and so forth.

5. Grammar Girl

Mignon Fogarty, also known as the Grammar Girl, is the founder of the blog and website “Quick and Dirty Tips.” Articles address grammatical errors, homophones, and awkward phrasing . 

Got a question about how to use a word or apply a grammar rule? There’s a good chance that Fogarty may have already covered it on the website. You can also browse through her content to learn the history of some words and plenty of writing-related advice. 

how to write an essay

You use an active voice to express yourself in a clear manner. For example, “I am happy.” Source: James Gilbert/Getty Images North America/Getty Images/AFP

6. Aztekera Passive voice checker

Did you know it’s better to write your essays in an active voice? That is because this tone is more concise and straightforward. 

If you need help eliminating passive voice (the opposite of active voice) in your essays, consider using Aztekera to  look out for “To be” verbs  that make up a passive voice phrase. 

7. Thesaurus

Building on your vocabulary is part of becoming a better English writer — and Thesaurus fills that gap. The website provides alternative words and phrases for users to express themselves perfectly in written English by leveraging its collection of synonyms and antonyms.

Thesaurus also has a collection of the most overused words you should avoid in your essays.

8. Project Gutenburg

Reading great writing samples can help you make out what makes a good essay. Project Gutenburg is an open-source (legally allowed to be shared for free) library with over 60,000 titles ! Note that most of the titles here are old since many books are no longer protected by copyright.

To fully use this resource, read actively and closely. Write notes in your journal to get a better feel for the language. Take note of new phrases, unfamiliar grammar structures, and anything else that stands out to you.

9. Edit Central

You’ve written your essay but are unsure if it flows well. Don’t worry — use Edit Central’s readability calculators. This tool calculates the  readability scores of a written text based on the most used readability indicators . A high score indicates that your copy flows well with your readers.

10. Grammar Monster

Don’t let the name fool you. Like Grammar Girl, Grammar Monster features many articles addressing punctuation, apostrophes, commas, prepositions, adverbs, and adjectives, among others.

The great thing about this website is that you can master the English language through bite-size easy-to-learn components , making this one of the best sources to teach how to write an essay.

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Free online proofreading and essay editor

A reliable proofreading tool and essay editor for any writer or student, a complete environment.

Typely is more than just a proofreading tool. It's a complete writing environment.

Thousands of checks

More than a thousand checks are being performed and we've only scratched the surface.

Inspired by the greatest writers

Gain access to humanity’s collective understanding about the craft of writing.

A proofreading tool that does not bark at every tree

Typely is precise. Existing tools for proofreading raise so many false alarms that their advice cannot be trusted. Instead, the writer must carefully consider whether to accept or reject each change.

We aim for a tool so precise that it becomes possible to unquestioningly adopt its recommendations and still come out ahead — with stronger, tighter prose. Better to be quiet and authoritative than loud and unreliable.

Relax, focus, write your next masterpiece...

Writing presumes more than simply laying out words on a paper. Typely helps you get in the mood and keeps you focused, immersed and ready to write your story.

Whether you need a distraction-free environment, some chill relaxing sounds or a pomodoro timer to manage your time we got you covered.

Got questions? We have answers.

No. Typely is completely free and we plan on keeping it that way. We are considering some advanced features however that might be available under a premium plan.

The only limit we have applied thus far is on the number of characters you can submit and that is being set at a maximum of 50,000.

In theory yes but that will require a lot of work and professionals dedicated for this job. We are considering a way of letting the community participate somehow.

Typely does not do grammar checking because it's hard and almost impossible to get right. The aim for Typely is to be precise and reliable.

Free Paraphrasing Tool

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What's a paraphrasing tool?

This AI-powered paraphraser lets you rewrite text in your own words. Use it to  paraphrase articles, essays, and other pieces of text. You can also use it to rephrase sentences and find synonyms for individual words. And the best part? It’s all 100% free!

What's paraphrasing

What's paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing involves expressing someone else’s ideas or thoughts in your own words while maintaining the original meaning. Paraphrasing tools can help you quickly reword text by replacing certain words with synonyms or restructuring sentences. They can also make your text more concise, clear, and suitable for a specific audience. Paraphrasing is an essential skill in academic writing and professional communication. 

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Why use this paraphrasing tool?

  • Save time: Gone are the days when you had to reword sentences yourself; now you can rewrite a text or a complete text with one click.
  •  Improve your writing: Your writing will always be clear and easy to understand. Automatically ensure consistent language throughout. 
  • Preserve original meaning: Paraphrase without fear of losing the point of your text.
  • No annoying ads: We care about the user experience, so we don’t run any ads.
  • Accurate: Reliable and grammatically correct paraphrasing.
  • No sign-up required: We don’t need your data for you to use our paraphrasing tool.
  • Super simple to use: A simple interface even your grandma could use.
  • It’s 100% free: No hidden costs, just unlimited use of a free paraphrasing tool.

Features of the paraphrasing tool

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Rephrase individual sentences

With the Scribbr Paraphrasing Tool, you can easily reformulate individual sentences.

  • Write varied headlines
  • Rephrase the subject line of an email
  • Create unique image captions

Paraphrase an whole text

Paraphrase a whole text

Our paraphraser can also help with longer passages (up to 125 words per input). Upload your document or copy your text into the input field.

With one click, you can reformulate the entire text.

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Find synonyms with ease

Simply click on any word to open the interactive thesaurus.

  • Choose from a list of suggested synonyms
  • Find the synonym with the most appropriate meaning
  • Replace the word with a single click

Paraphrase in two ways

Paraphrase in two ways

  • Standard: Offers a compromise between modifying and preserving the meaning of the original text
  • Fluency: Improves language and corrects grammatical mistakes.

Upload any document-to paraphrase tool

Upload different types of documents

Upload any Microsoft Word document, Google Doc, or PDF into the paraphrasing tool.

Download or copy your results

Download or copy your results

After you’re done, you can easily download or copy your text to use somewhere else.

Powered by AI

Powered by AI

The paraphrasing tool uses natural language processing to rewrite any text you give it. This way, you can paraphrase any text within seconds.

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Avoid accidental plagiarism

Want to make sure your document is plagiarism-free? In addition to our paraphrasing tool, which will help you rephrase sentences, quotations, or paragraphs correctly, you can also use our anti-plagiarism software to make sure your document is unique and not plagiarized.

Scribbr’s anti-plagiarism software enables you to:

  • Detect plagiarism more accurately than other tools
  • Ensure that your paraphrased text is valid
  • Highlight the sources that are most similar to your text

Start for free

How does this paraphrasing tool work?

1. put your text into the paraphraser, 2. select your method of paraphrasing, 3. select the quantity of synonyms you want, 4. edit your text where needed, who can use this paraphrasing tool.


Paraphrasing tools can help students to understand texts and improve the quality of their writing. 


Create original lesson plans, presentations, or other educational materials.



Explain complex concepts or ideas to a wider audience. 



Quickly and easily rephrase text to avoid repetitive language.



By using a paraphrasing tool, you can quickly and easily rework existing content to create something new and unique.


Bloggers can rewrite existing content to make it their own.


Writers who need to rewrite content, such as adapting an article for a different context or writing content for a different audience.


A paraphrasing tool lets you quickly rewrite your original content for each medium, ensuring you reach the right audience on each platform.

The all-purpose paraphrasing tool

The Scribbr Paraphrasing Tool is the perfect assistant in a variety of contexts.



Writer’s block? Use our paraphraser to get some inspiration.


Professional communication

Produce creative headings for your blog posts or PowerPoint slides.


Academic writing

Paraphrase sources smoothly in your thesis or research paper.


Social media

Craft memorable captions and content for your social media posts.

Paraphrase text online, for free

The Scribbr Paraphrasing Tool lets you rewrite as many sentences as you want—for free.

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Frequently asked questions

The act of putting someone else’s ideas or words into your own words is called paraphrasing, rephrasing, or rewording. Even though they are often used interchangeably, the terms can mean slightly different things:

Paraphrasing is restating someone else’s ideas or words in your own words while retaining their meaning. Paraphrasing changes sentence structure, word choice, and sentence length to convey the same meaning.

Rephrasing may involve more substantial changes to the original text, including changing the order of sentences or the overall structure of the text.

Rewording is changing individual words in a text without changing its meaning or structure, often using synonyms.

It can. One of the two methods of paraphrasing is called “Fluency.” This will improve the language and fix grammatical errors in the text you’re paraphrasing.

Paraphrasing and using a paraphrasing tool aren’t cheating. It’s a great tool for saving time and coming up with new ways to express yourself in writing.  However, always be sure to credit your sources. Avoid plagiarism.  

If you don’t properly cite text paraphrased from another source, you’re plagiarizing. If you use someone else’s text and paraphrase it, you need to credit the original source. You can do that by using citations. There are different styles, like APA, MLA, Harvard, and Chicago. Find more information about citing sources here.

Paraphrasing without crediting the original author is a form of plagiarism , because you’re presenting someone else’s ideas as if they were your own.

However, paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you correctly cite the source . This means including an in-text citation and a full reference, formatted according to your required citation style .

As well as citing, make sure that any paraphrased text is completely rewritten in your own words.

Plagiarism means using someone else’s words or ideas and passing them off as your own. Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas in your own words.

So when does paraphrasing count as plagiarism?

  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if you don’t properly credit the original author.
  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if your text is too close to the original wording (even if you cite the source). If you directly copy a sentence or phrase, you should quote it instead.
  • Paraphrasing  is not plagiarism if you put the author’s ideas completely in your own words and properly cite the source .

Chrome’s new AI feature can help you write on the web

Feb 22, 2024

You can now turn on “Help me write,” a new experimental AI feature in Chrome that can help you write content online.

Zoomed in image of the “Help me write” text window in Chrome with three sample text prompts. 1) “selling my used air fryer for 50 bucks” 2) “ask to check in early at a hotel” and 3) “request returning a defective bike helmet”

Last month, we announced new generative AI features coming to Chrome to make browsing the web easier and more personalized — including a tab organizer, theme generator and an experimental tool to help you confidently write content online.

With this week’s launch of Chrome M122, you can try out “ Help me write ” on Mac and Windows PCs starting in the U.S in English. Using Gemini models, the new feature will help you start writing or refine something you’ve already written — whether you’re selling a piece of furniture, submitting a restaurant review or inquiring about a hotel reservation. The tool will understand the context of the webpage you’re on to suggest relevant content. For example, as an avid gardener, if I’m writing a review for garden shears, Chrome will pull out relevant details about the item from the page to support my recommendation so it’s more valuable to other hobbyists.

A text field with the prompt “plane lands at 9 - ask to check in early.” The Help me write feature window includes the proposed refined text, “My flight is scheduled to arrive at 9am, and I would like to check in as soon as possible. Is there any way I can check in early? If not, when is the earliest time I can check in?”

Use "Help me write" for everyday writing tasks, like inquiring about a hotel reservation.

To turn on this feature, sign into Chrome, select “Settings” from the three-dot menu and navigate to the “ Experimental AI ” page. There, you’ll see the option to enable “Help me write” (you can disable it at any time). Once you enable it, you’re all set: Just right-click on an open text field within Chrome and select "Help me write" to get started.

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What can you do with a Creative Writing degree? [The ultimate 2024 careers guide]

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What can I do with a creative writing degree?

In a creative writing degree, you'll explore a mixture of traditional and contemporary themes, from storytelling, novels, poetry, to podcasts, and scriptwriting. You'll learn to craft narratives and develop a unique voice. From technical and analytical writing to communicating with diverse audiences, courses cover a range of topics.

As businesses and entrepreneurs are evolving to meet changing consumer behaviors and shifts in society, skilled writers with an unparralelled capacity for imagination, innovation, and effective communication are playing a vital role in business growth, and are highly desirable across many emerging and traditional sectors.

This ultimate career guide is covering the different types of roles, industries, and ways to make money as a creative writing graduate in 2024.

11 growing industries in creative writing

1. publishing.

The publishing industry is thriving due to the continued growth of digital platforms, the rise of self-publishing, and an increased focus on diverse and inclusive content. If you're keen to work in a publishing house there are many starter roles up for grabs with lots of opportunities for career progression from Editoral Assistant or Content Coordinator to Editor-in-Chief, to Literary Agent, or Director of Marketing and Publicity.

2. Content Marketing

The digital landscape is becoming increasingly competitive. Content marketing provides businesses with a means to establish a strong online presence, educate, engage and connect with their target audience, and build brand authority.

3. E-Learning

According to Statista , the growth of online education is estimated to reach a revenue of $498.60bn by 2028. This rising demand for E-learning is driven by advancing technology, and the rise of the creator economy. Online education is easily accessible and flexible, making it a preferred choice for anyone looking to upskill and learn from leading industry experts.

4. Digital Media and Streaming Services

With over 450 million listeners around the world, many of us have got a favourite podcast we plug into on the regular. You've probably been part of a debate on Spotify V Apple Music, or Netflix V Amazon Prime? Does the thought of leaving the house without your Kindle send shivers down your spine? With access to video, audio, and streaming services at our fingertips, digital content consumption continues to grow and media platforms are cleverly capitalising on this trend in an attempt to become the number one platform. As the demand for this type of content rises, so do new opportunities for creative writing graduates.

5. Technology and IT

Technology companies often need to share complex information with their stakeholders and customers. Professional writers are worth their weight in gold in helping to demystify technical jargon, and translate the most valuable content and insights in a meaningful, engaging, and exciting way - whether that's through user-friendly guides, or other types of digital marketing collateral.

6. Healthcare

There is a growing emphasis on patient education, and the healthcare industry is recognising the importance and value of clear and accessible information. With advancements in medical research and technology, writers are able to help communicate complex medical information to both professionals and the general public. Self-employed practioners and consultants can benefit from hiring a writer to reach wider audiences and grow their client profile. With access to a professional writer, business owners are able to achieve new levels of revenue growth by diversifying their income through building digital products or developing a digital course.

7. Gaming and Virtual Reality (VR)

The gaming and VR industries are expanding with an increase in consumer interest, new tech, and the integration of gaming in various sectors. Writers play a vital role in creating immersive narratives, engaging storylines, and interactive experiences that keep their users hooked and demanding more.

8. Social Media Management

It's 2024, we know that social media platforms are integral for successful marketing. Brands need a rock solid strategy that's filled with shareable and engaging content to reach and monetise their audiences. Writers are hired to craft compelling messages that speak directly to key demographics, write ads, manage online presence, and build brand narratives. The social media industry is a storytellers dream with direct access to a growing portfolio of entrepreneurs, freelancers, consultants, and virtual assistants.

9. Environmental, Sustainability, and Biotech Communications

With a global focus on sustainability, environmental issues, and advancements in science and biotechnology, businesses are investing in communication strategies that highlight their commitment to responsible practices and can clearly communicate findings and research to the public. Writers are crucial in reporting on sustainability initiatives, shaping corporate social responsibility narratives, and translating jargon-filled scientific concepts to a general audience.

10. Remote Work and Productivity

In the era of remote working, businesses are turning to digital communication and productivity strategies to streamline workflows and build a connected internal environment with their teams. If the thrill of organisation and productivity is what gets you out of bed in the morning, this could present an opportunity to leverage your skills to customise strategies for businesses and entrepreneurs. If there's a solution to transforming internal processes, increase profit margins, and build a thriving company culture, there's a price worth paying.

11. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The debate around the value of professional writers in a new world of Artificial Intelligence is a conversation which dominates dinner table debates, but, while AI is becoming more prevalent in content generation, writers are not at risk of losing credibility or potential jobs as outlined in this career guide. Instead, there is a need for collaboration between writers and AI systems. By embracing this, companies can leverage the strengths of both to create more powerful and engaging content, applications, and user experiences. The human touch and creativity brought by writers remain integral in ensuring the success and ethical use of AI and robotics in various industries.

17 in-demand roles for writers as of 2024

Below are 17 different types of roles you could consider pursuing as a creative writing graduate. Many of these roles can be found across all industries, so if there's something that really interests you, there's a good chance you will be able to find a role within the sector you're most interested in. The best place to start looking is job sites such as Indeed , LinkedIn , or websites dedicated to freelance work, such as Upwork .

  • Content Writer/Strategist (any industry)
  • Scriptwriters (podcast, radio, television, film, social media)
  • Interactive Storyteller
  • Digital Marketing Manager
  • Social Media Content Creator
  • VR Content Creator
  • Environmental Reporter
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Writer
  • Writer in Residence
  • Brand Journalist

What is a typical salary for a creative writing graduate?

As a professional writers, there are many ways you can make money through various income streams. Below are 10 ways you can earn money as a professional writer.

1. Freelancing

Writers who want to design their own schedule could enjoy freelancing or starting their own business. Freelance writers set their own fees, and often have the freedom of working remotely. There are many agencies that can help writers find and secure freelance jobs, so building a portfolio and building a relationship with agencies is really important. Writers can benefit from building a personal brand and social media presence to increase their exposure, and find lucrative clients within a niche that aligns with personal interests and passions.

*Side note - when you study a Creative Writing degree at Essex , you can get advice and guidance building a portfolio from the very start of your degree through the our dedicated careers support within the department.

2. Ghostwriting and Editing

Professional writers can generate income by offering ghostwriting services. This involves writing content on behalf of clients, and proofreading/editing work for publication. This could be in the form of novels, blogging, speech and presentations, social media content, digital newsletters, academic writing, corporate communications and podcast scriptwriting. The list grows.

3. Book sales, Royalties, and Advances

If you're into stories, being a novelist, or author can bring in royalties and advances. As a novelist or author, your primary source of income is likely to be generated from book sales. Traditional publishing houses and self-publishing platforms offer different royalty structures. The more copies you sell, the higher your earnings.

4. Screenplay Sales, Options, and Content Licensing

If you're a scriptwriter, selling your screenplay to film or television producers can be lucrative. Alternatively, you might receive payment for an option, granting a producer the right to purchase the script later. Scriptwriters may also license content for various platforms, including streaming services, which can be a source of ongoing income. Licensing agreements may provide royalties or upfront payments.

5. Public Speaking and Events

Authors often earn money by participating in speaking engagements, book tours, or events. Public appearances, workshops, and panel discussions can be sponsored or paid opportunities. If you are keen to build a personal brand, you can build your exposure in certain industries, become a thought leader and increase your earning potential as a subject specialist.

6. Writing Competitions and Grants

Many organisations and institutions offer writing competitions and grants. Winning or securing these opportunities can provide cash prizes, publication deals, or financial support for your writing projects. They may not be your primary source of income, but freelancers are likely to diversify their income so it's important to become savvy to different financial opportunities.

7. Self-Publishing and Merchandising

If you choose to self-publish, you retain more control over your work. Additionally, authors can explore merchandising opportunities related to their books, such as branded merchandise or special editions.

8. Crowdfunding

Some writers turn to crowdfunding platforms to finance their projects. Supporters contribute funds in exchange for rewards, early access to content, or exclusive perks.

9. Content Creation Services and Affiliate Marketing

If you're interested in digital content marketing and E-learning, you can earn money in digital product sales, online course sales, consultancy, and through affiliate marketing channels. Affiliate marketing is a great way to diversify your income, providing support to your main income stream. With a larger engaged audience, the more opportunity to grow your affiliate income.

10. Employment

If you go down the employment route, your salary will depend on where you work. Certain jobs often follow a salary framework, for example the publishing sector, education sector, and Civil Service. Agency work will likely give you many opportunities to work your way up the ladder, earning commissions and gaining more income with each promotion, and some industries could pay six figures plus if your role sits at a high level.

For more insights into the money side of things, check job boards such as Indeed , LinkedIn , and Upwork .

The takeaway

As you grow your skills and experience as a writer and increase your exposure, the more you can boost your earning power. In today's world of remote working, emerging industries are increasingly turning to writers to help drive business growth in new and innovative ways. Finding that sweet spot between freelancing and traditional employment is more achievable than ever, and is comforting for many graduates who want to find the balance between security in employment, and exploring their creative impulses. Many writers are taking full advantage of these opportunities and exploring the possibilities with open, curious minds. 

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all answer; the decision is entirely yours. There's no better time to explore your options than during your creative writing degree.

Considering a creative writing degree?

Creative Writing Lead, Dr James Canton  teaches on our flagship BA Creative Writing degree. Here's what he has to say about what it's like to study a writing degree at the University of Essex.

"Creative writing is the imaginative narration of our world. As writers we respond to societal issues such as climate change, AI, social justice, mental health, in a way that is powerful, personal and poignant. At Essex, we value an inclusive, supportive environment that challenges you to achieve your best as a writer and student. Your degree involves research, independent study as well as building up to professional levels of craft and technique in all kinds of writing, by way of creative and imaginative exercises. If you have an interest in writing, come and meet us on one of our Colchester Campus Open Days  and get a taste of our writing community."

Dr James Canton, Senior Lecturer, Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex.

About the Author:

Alexandra Stephens

Faculty Web and Promotions Assistant (Arts and Humanities), University of Essex

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What can you do with a journalism degree? [The ultimate 2024 careers guide]

29 February 2024

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I Was a Heretic at The New York Times

I did what I was hired to do, and I paid for it.

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Listen to this article

Produced by ElevenLabs and NOA, News Over Audio, using AI narration.

O n one of my first days at The New York Times , I went to an orientation with more than a dozen other new hires. We had to do an icebreaker: Pick a Starburst out of a jar and then answer a question. My Starburst was pink, I believe, and so I had to answer the pink prompt, which had me respond with my favorite sandwich. Russ & Daughters’ Super Heebster came to mind, but I figured mentioning a $19 sandwich wasn’t a great way to win new friends. So I blurted out, “The spicy chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A,” and considered the ice broken.

The HR representative leading the orientation chided me: “We don’t do that here. They hate gay people.” People started snapping their fingers in acclamation. I hadn’t been thinking about the fact that Chick-fil-A was transgressive in liberal circles for its chairman’s opposition to gay marriage. “Not the politics, the chicken,” I quickly said, but it was too late. I sat down, ashamed.

As far back as I can remember, my parents have subscribed to the Times . As a kid, I’d run out to grab the newspaper from the driveway most mornings, and we’d do the crossword puzzle together on the weekends. When I got a job in the Times Opinion section in 2019, they were thrilled—the last time someone in my family had had anything to do with the paper, it was for my grandmother’s run-in with the law in 1986. In an act of civil disobedience, she had chained herself to her hot-dog cart in Houston after city officials refused to give her a food-vendor license. (She ultimately beat the ticket .)

Graeme Wood: The move to eradicate disagreement

I was glad that someone like me—with a background writing for right-of-center publications—was welcome at the paper of record. After college, I’d landed a fellowship on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal , and then a writing job at The Weekly Standard . The Standard was conservative yet unrelentingly anti–Donald Trump, and happy to pick fights with Republicans. The story I’m most proud of writing there was one exposing the racist remarks of then-Representative Steve King of Iowa.

James Bennet, the Times ’ editorial-page editor, and James Dao, the op-ed editor, were committed to publishing heterodox views. From my time at the Standard , I had contacts on the political right and a good sense of its ideological terrain. The Times had hired me to provide research for columnists and to solicit and edit newsy, against-the-grain op-eds. I brushed off my discomfort about the office politics and focused on work. Our mandate was to present readers with “intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion,” as the Times ’ founder, Adolph Ochs, put it in 1896. This meant publishing arguments that would challenge readers’ assumptions, and perspectives that they may not otherwise encounter in their daily news diet. I edited essays by the mayor of a small city in Kentucky, a New York City subway conductor on her work during COVID , a military mother on improving life on bases . I also sought out expressly conservative views.

Ochs was not, of course, calling for publishing just any opinion. An op-ed had to be smart and written in good faith, and not used to settle scores, derive personal benefit, or engineer some desired outcome. It had to be authentic. In other words, our goal was supposed to be journalistic, rather than activist.

This, I learned in my two years at the Times , was not a goal that everyone shared.

B eing a conservative —or at least being considered one—at the Times was a strange experience. I often found myself asking questions like “Doesn’t all of this talk of ‘voter suppression’ on the left sound similar to charges of ‘voter fraud’ on the right?” only to realize how unwelcome such questions were. By asking, I’d revealed that I wasn’t on the same team as my colleagues, that I didn’t accept as an article of faith the liberal premise that voter suppression was a grave threat to liberal democracy while voter fraud was entirely fake news.

Or take the Hunter Biden laptop story: Was it truly “ unsubstantiated ,” as the paper kept saying? At the time, it had been substantiated, however unusually, by Rudy Giuliani. Many of my colleagues were clearly worried that lending credence to the laptop story could hurt the electoral prospects of Joe Biden and the Democrats. But starting from a place of party politics and assessing how a particular story could affect an election isn’t journalism. Nor is a vague unease with difficult subjects. “The state of Israel makes me very uncomfortable,” a colleague once told me. This was something I was used to hearing from young progressives on college campuses, but not at work.

There was a sense that publishing the occasional conservative voice made the paper look centrist. But I soon realized that the conservative voices we published tended to be ones agreeing with the liberal line. It was also clear that right-of-center submissions were treated differently. They faced a higher bar for entry, more layers of editing, and greater involvement of higher-ups. Standard practice held that when a writer submitted an essay to an editor, the editor would share that draft with colleagues via an email distribution list. Then we would all discuss it. But many of my colleagues didn’t want their name attached to op-eds advancing conservative arguments, and early-to-mid-career staffers would routinely oppose their publication. After senior leaders in the Opinion section realized that these articles were not getting a fair shake, the process evolved. Articles that were potentially “controversial” (read: conservative) were sent directly to the most senior editors on the page, to be scrutinized by the leadership rather than the whole department.

The tension between journalistic and activist impulses existed in newsrooms before the spring of 2020. But it deepened after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the protests and riots that gripped America in the subsequent weeks. The account of how the Times came to publish an op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton calling for the military to quell riots, and of the controversy that followed, has been told in many places, most recently by Bennet, my former boss, in a lengthy essay for 1843 , The Economist ’s magazine . I was the primary editor of that op-ed, under the direction of my more senior colleagues.

I was working remotely from Los Angeles at the time and remember walking down Fairfax Avenue a few days earlier. Everything was trashed. Gang signs had been scrawled on the walls of stores; graffiti on a bank branch read hang bankers ; stores with Black Lives Matter signs had been ransacked. Police cars and some stores had been burned nearby, and I could smell the ash in the air. Notably, 1,000 National Guardsmen had been called in to Los Angeles to restore calm.

The Times editorial board weighed in on the Black Lives Matter protests, articulating complete support for their mission:

In too many police departments there is a culture of impunity. Until that culture is changed, there will continue to be rightful rage at its existence. Rather than just condemning or applauding protesters, Americans should listen closely to what they’re demanding.

Not all of the demonstrations were peaceful. Police stations in Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon , were set on fire. Police cars were firebombed in New York City, and officers were shot in St. Louis. Many people felt that things were spiraling out of control.

On June 1, Tom Cotton, a former Army officer and the junior senator from Arkansas, was advancing the argument—in exchanges with President Trump and on his Twitter feed —that the president should invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act to deploy, “if necessary, the 10th Mountain, 82nd Airborne, 1st Cav, 3rd Infantry—whatever it takes to restore order. No quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters.” The “no quarter” element caused alarm—did Cotton mean “leave no survivor,” as the phrase’s use in a military context could suggest? “A no quarter order is a war crime,” the conservative commentator and former Army lawyer David French responded . Cotton clarified, tweeting : “If you say that someone was given no quarter, you mean that they were not treated kindly by someone who had power or control over them,” with a link to that definition in a dictionary. Not everyone was convinced.

The next day, Cotton’s office pitched me an op-ed about Twitter threatening to lock his account if he didn’t delete the original tweet. I sent the pitch to Dao, the op-ed editor. Rather than focus on the side issue of Twitter’s content-moderation policies, Dao replied, Cotton’s essay should be about the actual substance of his argument: In this case, does the president have the authority to invoke the Insurrection Act? Should he? Other editors who were consulted on the pitch found that argument worthwhile. I conveyed the reformulated idea to Cotton’s office, and his staff filed a draft early the next morning. We also had plans, as was our custom, to run arguments against Cotton’s view. And we already had .

I was given the job of fact-checking and line-editing. Among other edits, I inserted a line making clear the distinction between peaceful protesters and law-breaking looters. I deleted several objectionable sentences and cleared up factual questions: all pretty standard in the work of an op-ed editor. In addition to my own edits, I incorporated edits conveyed by Bennet, Dao, and the deputy op-ed editor, Clay Risen; then a copy editor went over the essay. Over the course of this process, I went back and forth with Cotton’s staff several times, and we exchanged multiple drafts.

I had one more task to take care of. Cotton’s office had emailed me several photos that they wanted to see published alongside the op-ed, showing times when the same legal doctrine had been invoked in the past. One was of U.S. troops enforcing the desegregation of the University of Mississippi in 1962. I sent these to a photo editor, Jeffrey Henson Scales, and asked him to “consider” them. He wrote me back to say, “A false equivalence, but historical images are there now,” meaning he’d added them to the story file in the system. I thanked him and added a “confusion” emoji, in case he wanted to expand on what he meant. He replied by sending me the emoji of a black box, representing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

At about 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, Cotton’s office signed off on the article. Risen and Dao then approved publication.

Immediately, the op-ed caused an outcry within the Times . Dozens of the paper’s employees retweeted an identical, or near-identical, statement, workshopped on Slack and rubber-stamped by the NewsGuild of New York, which represents the newspaper’s union (I was a member), claiming that “ running this put Black @nytimes staff in danger .”

It was an outlandish claim but next to impossible to rebut—how can you tell someone who says they’re not safe that, in fact, they’re fine? Did they know that in some states, troops had already been deployed to protect public safety? Were we reading the same op-ed? Were they serious?

Leadership at the paper seemed to think so; the claim had the trappings of a workplace-safety and racial-justice issue. The Times Guild immediately started organizing against the op-ed and those responsible for it. “Is there something else we can do? I am behind whatever action we might take,” wrote Susan Hopkins, a newsroom editor who now helps run the front page, in the Guild Slack channel. By the end of the week, the Guild had a letter with more than 1,000 signatures demanding changes to the Opinion section. (When I pointed out to a Guild representative that its activism was in effect calling for one of its own members to face repercussions, he seemed surprised, and apologized, though the Guild did not meaningfully change its public tack.)

A diplomatic correspondent, Edward Wong, wrote in an email to colleagues that he typically chose not to quote Cotton in his own stories because his comments “often represent neither a widely held majority opinion nor a well-thought-out minority opinion.” This message was revealing. A Times reporter saying that he avoids quoting a U.S. senator? What if the senator is saying something important? What sorts of minority opinions met this correspondent’s standards for being well thought-out? In any event, the opinion Cotton was expressing in his op-ed, whatever one thinks of it, had, according to polling cited in the essay, the support of more than half of American voters. It was not a minority opinion.

Soon a new channel was created on Slack to discuss the op-ed. In a matter of hours, more than 1,500 employees had joined it, and there were thousands of messages plotting next steps and calling for a retraction, an editors’ note, firings.

Many colleagues wrote to me directly to express their anger. A few offered support. “Hey fwiw I disagree with Cotton but I think that piece was a traditional op-ed from the other side. Hope you’re OK,” a senior staff editor told me.

One columnist suggested that I “take notes.” I did.

O n Thursday , June 4, a reporter on the business desk named Edmund Lee contacted me. “So, we’re reporting out the Cotton Op-Ed,” he wrote. “We know from sources you were the principal writer.” I reached out to Dao for advice on how to handle this ludicrous claim, and did as he suggested. “I’ll have to send you to corp comms,” I wrote to Lee. “Off the record: I can categorically tell you that I did not write the Op-Ed.”

Later that day, the Times published a story by Lee and two other reporters. “The Op-Ed was edited by Adam Rubenstein,” the article said. It devoted five paragraphs to my interaction with the photo editor, who had, against company policy, shared with the reporters some of our Slack messages.

Mr. Scales raised an objection. “A false equivalence, but historical images are there now,” he wrote to Mr. Rubenstein on Slack, the internal messaging software used by Times employees. “Yeah, there are a few in there,” Mr. Rubenstein responded.

The full exchange made clear that I had been talking about the photos; presented this way, many read it as a confession that I believed the article was drawing false equivalences. Indeed, after this account came out, The Washington Post described me as having “shrugged off accuracy issues.”

That wasn’t the only issue with Lee’s story. As Bennet noted in his essay for 1843 , the article claimed that Cotton advocated suppressing “protests against police violence.” The op-ed didn’t argue that. If it had, we would not have published it. In fact, Cotton’s essay was explicit in distinguishing between protests and the undeniable violence and looting: “A majority who seek to protest peacefully shouldn’t be confused with bands of miscreants.” (When asked for comment by The Atlantic , Danielle Rhoades Ha, a Times spokesperson, pointed to the op-ed’s language calling for a show of force to “deter lawbreakers.” She wrote, “‘Lawbreakers’ would have included people marching without permits, refusing to disperse and blocking the streets. A fair reading of that suggests that he was in favor of military intervention against those breaking curfew or refusing to disperse as well as looters and rioters.” At the time, police cars were burning in glass-strewn streets. I assure you, when Cotton wrote “lawbreakers,” he wasn’t talking about curfews.)

At first the paper’s publisher, A. G. Sulzberger, had defended the choice to publish Cotton’s op-ed, though he added that he was listening to everyone’s concerns “with an open mind.” By that night, he’d caved and was claiming that a review had been conducted that found that “a rushed editorial process” was responsible for an op-ed that “did not meet our standards.” For the record, I—the editor on whom the paper had pinned responsibility—was never interviewed as part of any formal review.

Later, after poring over the Slack channels, I realized something more surprising: Rachel Abrams, one of Lee’s co-authors on the article, had been a vocal internal critic of Cotton’s op-ed. “How can they be sending us emails telling us they’re keeping us safe and care about our physical and mental well-being and then publish this,” she had posted on Slack, later adding, “I think it’s good that a lot of us will put our names on a strong condemnation.” (She later stated that, as a media reporter, she should not have said this, but that there was no issue with her factual reporting for the story.)

I watched as factitious accounts of the publication process and the op-ed itself made their way into the paper’s own coverage and beyond. A narrative had emerged on Slack: that I had gone rogue and published the article without any involvement of higher-ups. Of course this was false, but that untruth nevertheless became central to the story. I had followed all the rules, but I had the sinking feeling that not all of my colleagues felt similarly constrained.

T he debate on Slack seemed interminable. Stephanie Saul, a Pulitzer Prize–winning education reporter, was one of the few people who expressed support for publishing a range of views on the op-ed page. Margaret Lyons, a television critic, countered: “We don’t run pieces where serial killers tell us murdering is actually fun and great.”

On the morning of June 5, the company assembled for a virtual town hall. As Bennet wrote in 1843 , this was an opportunity for him to apologize (he didn’t), and for Sulzberger and Dean Baquet, then the Times ’ executive editor, to get ahold of the ship (they didn’t). Afterward, one reporter, Liam Stack, wrote to colleagues, “This rhetoric of ‘a moment of deep reflection and listening’ is just making people more angry.” The pressure on management would not relent.

That night, an editors’ note was appended to the op-ed. The note contains many errors, among them that the editorial process had been “rushed,” that “senior editors were not sufficiently involved,” and that facts in the article weren’t quite right. Never mind, of course, that it wasn’t rushed, that senior editors were deeply involved, and that there were no correctable errors. The note criticized Cotton’s claim that “radicals like antifa are infiltrating protest marches,” alleging that it had “not been substantiated.” But the attorney general was on the record saying that antifa had done just that—a fact the Times eventually confirmed for itself.

“A more pathetic collection of 317 words would be difficult to assemble,” Erik Wemple, the media critic of The Washington Post , wrote a few years later about the editor’s note.

The next morning I got a call from Sulzberger. I warned him that every action he was taking—the town halls, the public statements, the editors’ note, and the Times ’ own erroneous reporting—was putting me, my colleagues, and Sulzberger himself in a worse position. He apologized for the mess, and for my being caught in the middle of it, and said he’d “stew on” what he could do.

I never heard from him again.

The same day, Sulzberger asked Bennet to resign. “Wow,” Meghan Louttit, who is now a deputy editor in the newsroom, wrote on Slack. “James’s resignation makes me somewhat … Hopeful?” and added that the firing, in her view, represented “a first step.”

But a first step toward what? During an Opinion all-hands meeting, a liberal columnist asked Sulzberger about the precedent that firing Bennet set: Will you stand by me if people around here and on Twitter don’t like one of my columns?

Every now and then, the group that handles security for the Times would check in on me to make sure I was safe. Ever since the paper had named me as the person responsible for publishing Cotton’s op-ed, I had been receiving alarming threats.

I felt in those days like I was in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language and was on trial for a manufactured offense. I still thought that if I could only explain that the regular process had been followed, that the op-ed had called for protesters not to be harmed but instead protected, the situation could still be resolved.

Maybe I should have seen this all coming. A few months earlier, my former colleague Bari Weiss had predicted that Bennet wouldn’t last long: “He is doing what they claim to want but they don’t want it,” she told me. Once Bennet resigned, a new regime came into Opinion. Dao was reassigned to the national desk. Clay Risen moved to Politics, then to Obituaries. New policies were enacted. A “See something, say something” rule was affirmed, and a Slack channel called “op-sensitivity” was created, in which editors were encouraged to raise concerns about one another’s stories. By December, I had decided to leave the paper. It had been made clear to me, in a variety of ways, that I had no future there.

Caitlin Flanagan: Colleges are lying to their students

In the years preceding the Cotton op-ed, the Times had published op-eds by authoritarians including Muammar Qaddafi , Recep Tayyip Erdoğan , and Vladimir Putin . The year of the Cotton op-ed, it also published the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece Regina Ip’s defense of China’s murderous crackdown on prodemocracy protests in Hong Kong, Moustafa Bayoumi’s seeming apologia of cultural and ethnic resentments of Jews, and an article by a leader of the Taliban, Sirajuddin Haqqani . None of those caused an uproar. Last year, the page published an essay by the Hamas-appointed mayor of Gaza City , and few seemed to mind. But whether the paper is willing to publish conservative views on divisive political issues, such as abortion rights and the Second Amendment, remains an open question.

I’m not sure the relative calm can be attributed to the new leadership or new policies; more likely the cause was enough blood having been let, and Donald Trump having left office (however unwillingly). On January 6, 2021, few people at The New York Times remarked on the fact that liberals were cheering on the deployment of National Guardsmen to stop rioting at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., the very thing Tom Cotton had advocated.

(In a statement, Rhoades Ha, the Times spokesperson, told The Atlantic that the Opinion section’s “commitment to publishing diverse views—including those that are unpopular, controversial or heterodox—is unwavering.” She doubled down on the Times ’ claims that the Cotton op-ed “did not hold up to scrutiny” and that senior leaders weren’t involved enough. “None of that,” she added at the end, “was Adam’s fault. As a junior member of the team, he deserved better editorial support and oversight.” Please. What I and others really deserved were leaders who didn’t buckle under pressure and sacrifice their own to placate a loud and insurgent group at the paper.)

All of this happened in the first five years of my career. In the worst of those days, I was attacked not only by colleagues, but also by acquaintances and friends. One friend contacted my girlfriend of seven years, asking whether she would take a stand against “Adam’s role in promoting fascism.” She—the tough-as-nails daughter of Peruvian immigrants who grew up hearing stories of her parents fleeing the Shining Path—ignored it, and some eight weeks later, we were engaged.

As painful as it was in my mid-20s to think that my journalistic career would end as a result of this episode, it’s even more painful to think that newsrooms haven’t learned the right lessons from it. If the Times or any other outlet aims to cover America as it is and not simply how they want it to be, they should recruit more editors and reporters with conservative backgrounds, and then support them in their work. They should hire journalists, not activists. And they should remember that heterodoxy isn’t heresy.

By telling the story the Times told about Cotton’s op-ed, the paper seemed to avoid confronting the tough reality that despite many staffers’ objections, the article was well within the bounds of reasonable discourse. What did it mean for the paper and its coverage that Times employees were so violently opposed to publishing a mainstream American view?

It was clear to me then and it’s clear to me now that the fight over Cotton’s op-ed was never about safety, or the facts, or the editing, or even the argument, but control of the paper and who had it. In the end, all that mattered was that an example had been made.


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Ignoring Warnings, G.O.P. Trumpeted Now-Discredited Allegation Against Biden

Republicans in Congress built their impeachment case against President Biden around a bribery accusation that the F.B.I. had warned them was uncorroborated.

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Senator Charles E. Grassley, in a dark green suit and blue tie, speaking at a lectern.

By Luke Broadwater and Glenn Thrush

Reporting from Washington

In May 2023, Senator Charles E. Grassley, a chief antagonist of President Biden, strode to the Senate floor with some shocking news: He had learned, he said, of a document in the F.B.I.’s possession that could reveal “a criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden.”

Mr. Grassley, an Iowa Republican, suggested to any Americans listening that there was a single document that could confirm the most sensational corruption allegations against Mr. Biden — and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was engaging in a coverup.

“Did they sweep it under the rug to protect the candidate Biden?” he asked conspiratorially.

Over the next few months, Mr. Grassley’s quest to make public the allegation — laid out in an obscure document known as an F.B.I. Form 1023 — became a fixation, and a foundation of the growing Republican push to impeach Mr. Biden as payback for Democrats’ treatment of former President Donald J. Trump.

At the center of it all was the unsubstantiated accusation that Mr. Biden had taken a $5 million bribe from the executive of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma.

But what neither Mr. Grassley nor any of the other Republicans who amplified the claims said in their breathless statements was that F.B.I. officials had warned them repeatedly to be cautious about the accusation, because it was uncorroborated and its credibility unknown.

All that the form proved, federal law enforcement officials explained, was that a confidential source had said something, and they had written it down. And now federal prosecutors say the claim was made up.

But the cautions Republicans received from the start about the materials did not stop them from repeating the unverified allegation hundreds of times over many months, in official settings and interviews on right-wing media outlets.

Representative James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky and chairman of the Oversight Committee, called the source of the allegation “highly credible,” while Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio and the Judiciary Committee chairman, called the form the “most corroborating evidence we have.”

Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, the No. 3 House Republican who is one of Mr. Trump’s most vocal allies in that chamber, declared it “the biggest political corruption scandal, not only in my lifetime, but I would say the past 100 years.”

Republicans read it into the Congressional Record, included it as a “key” document on the House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry website and even threatened to hold the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, in contempt when he resisted their calls to send them an unredacted copy of the form.

Last week, a federal grand jury in California indicted the former F.B.I. informant who had made the accusation, Alexander Smirnov, on charges that he had fabricated the story in 2020 to help defeat Mr. Biden in the presidential campaign. Prosecutors also asserted in a court filing that Mr. Smirnov, a dual citizen of the United States and Israel who operated as a businessman and fixer in the former Soviet states, had told federal investigators that “officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved” in passing an unspecified story about Hunter Biden, the president’s son, who had been a board member of Burisma.

Current and former law enforcement officials said confidential informants dissemble all the time — often to impress their handlers or settle grudges — which is why the release of a raw, unverified report from a single source is strictly prohibited.

In a series of pointed letters to congressional Republicans last spring and summer, senior F.B.I. officials explained why they were unwilling to show the lawmakers the form containing the allegation, even in private.

“The mere existence of such a document would establish little beyond the fact that a confidential human source provided information and the F.B.I. recorded it,” wrote Christopher Dunham, acting assistant director of the agency, on May 10, 2023.

“Indeed, the F.B.I. regularly receives information from sources with significant potential biases, motivations and knowledge, including drug traffickers, members of organized crime, or even terrorists,” he added.

In another letter, Mr. Dunham warned Mr. Comer that revealing the unsubstantiated claims would endanger other confidential sources and have a “chilling effect” on recruiting others.

But a few weeks later, after House Republicans threatened to hold Mr. Wray in contempt of Congress for refusing to share the form, the bureau reluctantly agreed to provide a redacted copy for viewing at a secure facility on Capitol Hill. And several of the Republicans who saw it ignored the bureau’s warnings by describing its contents and citing it as proof positive that Mr. Biden was corrupt.

When news broke last week that the Justice Department had charged Mr. Smirnov with making it all up, Republicans downplayed their previous statements and blamed F.B.I. and Justice Department officials for telling them that the person who made the allegation was considered, in general, to be a credible source. (Both Democrats and Republicans agree bureau officials initially represented the source to Congress as “highly credible,” even if the allegations he passed along against Mr. Biden had not been verified.)

“I’m sure now they are apologizing,” Representative Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican who has been skeptical of the impeachment drive, said sarcastically of his colleagues. “I’m sure they’re saying, ‘Wow, Director Wray, you did the right thing. We really appreciate your professionalism.’”

Mr. Buck, a former prosecutor for 25 years, said the F.B.I. had handled the allegation the way every professional law enforcement agency should.

“You don’t go running to the press every time a witness says something, because you don’t know what the reliability of that testimony is,” Mr. Buck said. “It was premature to go out and tout how significant this was without knowing the reliability of the testimony.”

Despite the bureau’s warnings, and the inability of Republican investigators to produce evidence to support the bribery claims, members of the party’s right wing amplified their attacks, linking it to their impeachment inquiry.

Mr. Comer even chastised reporters for calling the allegations “unverified” instead of reporting that the informant was “highly credible” after lawmakers were shown the form.

In the following weeks, Mr. Comer, Mr. Jordan, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri and many others touted the allegations.

Perhaps no one went quite as far as Ms. Stefanik, who went on Fox News to talk about what she characterized as the corruption scandal of the century.

“You have multiple members of the Biden family profiting illegally from foreign governments,” Ms. Stefanik said. “You also have the bombshell reporting, including potential tapes that exist, of while Joe Biden was vice president taking a bribe from Burisma.”

And Representative Anna Paulina Luna, Republican of Florida, said the document provided concrete evidence of what Republicans had suspected all along.

“This is absolutely something that Oversight has been speculating on,” she said. But now, she added, “we have proof.”

Weeks later, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia would read the allegations into the Congressional Record: “This form entails the damning information that then-Vice President Joe Biden took a $5 million bribe from the oligarch that owns Burisma. Not only did Joe Biden take a $5 million bribe, so did Hunter Biden.”

That, she added, was grounds enough to embark on the impeachment of Mr. Biden.

“What I am demanding is that the Republican-led House of Representatives move forward on an impeachment inquiry on Joe Biden, because this type of corruption should never be allowed to stand,” she said.

The indictment unsealed in California federal court portrays Mr. Smirnov as a serial liar whose motivation for targeting the Bidens appeared to have been rooted in the same political animus that drove Republicans to promote his claims.

During the 2020 campaign, he sent his F.B.I. handler “a series of messages expressing bias” against Mr. Biden, including texts, replete with typos and misspellings, boasting that he had information that would put him in jail.

In the wake of Mr. Smirnov’s indictment, Democrats have called for an end to the impeachment inquiry.

Representative Dan Goldman, a New York Democrat who was a federal prosecutor, said the F.B.I. should never have released the Form 1023.

“It is really a dereliction of duty as an investigator to do what they did, and that is also another reason why this investigation should be terminated immediately,” he said.

Rather than admitting they overhyped the evidence, Republicans have pivoted.

Despite his role in kicking off the frenzy, Mr. Grassley’s office denied the Iowan had promoted the allegations, saying that he “only ever asked what the F.B.I. did to investigate the allegations and verify them.”

Mr. Grassley’s spokeswoman also claimed a bit of victory, because, she said, the senator had forced the F.B.I. to finally investigate the claim. “Given the timeline provided in the D.O.J.’s indictment, it’s clear that the F.B.I. only began investigating after Senator Grassley made the 1023 public,” she said. Mr. Comer now says the impeachment inquiry “is not reliant” on the form detailing the bribery allegation.

Mr. Jordan said Mr. Smirnov’s indictment “doesn’t change the fundamental facts” of the case against Mr. Biden.

Republicans quietly deleted a reference to the document from a request to interview a witness in their impeachment inquiry.

And by Friday, under the section of the impeachment inquiry website called “Key Evidence,” the 1023 form had been removed.

Kenneth P. Vogel contributed reporting. Zach Montague and Kitty Bennett contributed research.

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misrepresented a claim about recordings made of Joseph R. Biden Jr. An F.B.I. form reporting since-discredited testimony by Alexander Smirnov noted that he claimed to have information on recordings of Mr. Biden involving coerced payments. It is not true that the allegation contained no mention of tapes.

How we handle corrections

Luke Broadwater covers Congress with a focus on congressional investigations. More about Luke Broadwater

Glenn Thrush covers the Department of Justice. He joined The Times in 2017 after working for Politico, Newsday, Bloomberg News, The New York Daily News, The Birmingham Post-Herald and City Limits. More about Glenn Thrush

Are TikTok and Instagram dulling your taste?

Shadows of three figures in front of blurry Instagram logos on a screen.

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Book Review


By Kyle Chayka Doubleday Books: 304 pages, $28 If you buy books linked on our site, The Times may earn a commission from , whose fees support independent bookstores.

Partway through Kyle Chayka’s new book, “Filterworld,” about how digital algorithms transform culture, a quote from one of his subjects stopped me cold.

Valerie Peter, a younger woman interviewed for the book, had never liked legwarmers. But in late 2021, legwarmers became a pervasive fashion trend on Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest . She felt compelled to buy a pair. The decision felt almost subconscious, disturbingly so. It were as if clout-chasing influencers and surveillance-based digital advertising had somehow corrupted her self-identity.

“I just want to know that what I like is what I actually like,” Peter said.

Taylor Lorenz tracks the rise of internet influencers in "Extremely Online."

Taylor Lorenz knows social media. So why is her book a dull celebration of marketing deals?

L.A. based tech reporter Taylor Lorenz’s ‘Extremely Online’ tackles a worthy subject — the rise of influencers — but reveals nothing worth caring about.

Oct. 2, 2023

Good luck , I thought. I pictured the ending from Alex Garland’s 2018 sci-fi film “Annihilation,” where Natalie Portman’s character, Lena, confronts a faceless extraterrestrial that mimics, with growing violence, her every move. It’s the strange dance of today’s surveillance economy: Users give platforms data, which platforms use to adapt to the user (and sell more precisely targeted ads), which in turn better adapts the user to the platform. Every algorithm-driven platform is an alien lifeforce that acts more like you over time, even if it’s enabling your belief in a conspiracy theory or dangerously reinforcing a depressive episode .

“Algorithmic recommendations are addictive because they are always subtly confirming your own cultural, political, and social biases, warping your surroundings into a mirror image of yourself while doing the same for everyone else,” Chayka writes. “This had made me anxious, the possibility that my view of my own life — lived through the Internet — was a fiction formed by the feeds.” So he went on an algorithm cleanse and quit social media, going cranky from the cognitive withdrawal at first. He read David Brooks out of sheer boredom. Took fewer photos. Gained clarity.

"Filterworld: How Algorithms Flattened Culture" by Kyle Chayka

In “Filterworld,” Chayka, a writer who covers technology and internet culture for the New Yorker, uses taste as the primary lens through which to explore this cycle of adaptation and alienation that now defines our encounters with many tech platforms. Chayka’s view is that the proliferation of recommendation algorithms on services like Netflix, Spotify and TikTok since the 2010s have created a cultural world that’s flatter, more homogenous and more passively consumed. The book is part of a long-building , now-maturing backlash against the uncanny mental world, our world, that the tech industry has built over the past two decades.

“In place of the human gatekeepers and curators of culture, the editors and DJs, we now have a set of algorithmic gatekeepers,” Chayka writes. “While this shift has lowered many cultural barriers to entry, since anyone can make their work public online, it has also resulted in a kind of tyranny of real-time data. Attention becomes the only metric by which culture is judged, and what gets attention is dictated by equations developed by Silicon Valley engineers.”

If taste — aesthetic judgment — is a human skill cultivated by a lifetime of gazing, reading, listening and selecting, recommendation algorithms are like the new robots powering up to take over the assembly line of our intentionality. These mathematical helpers reduce selection time and boost the efficiency of seeing pictures, watching TV shows and hearing songs: more and faster.

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Meanwhile, the humans who used to browse the shelves in libraries or at Blockbusters become button-pushers a little less good at looking around. No need to stress over finding the right album for your mood anymore. Just listen to this Spotify playlist of lofi beats to relax to.

Whenever your environment gets automated, you become a little more of an automatic person. “There are ‘lean-in’ moments, when the user is paying attention, choosing what to consume and actively judging the result,” Chayka writes of active and passive modes of content consumption on platforms. “And there are ‘lean-back’ moments, when users coast along with content running in the background, not worrying too much about what it is or what plays next. Algorithmic recommendations push us toward the latter category, in which we are fed culture like foie-gras ducks, with more regard for volume than quality — because volume, sheer time spent, is what makes money for the platform through targeted advertising.”

Time to rebel! I for one, as a former English major , am vulnerable to humanities-based arguments of decline; our lives (or at least our moods) might improve modestly if we went around smashing a few more machines . Nonetheless, Chayka’s version of taste is an unreliable instrument for establishing the extent that Big Tech is achromatizing the last bit of color out of our souls. A much older cultural anxiety is also afoot here.

Author Kyle Chayka, in a grey T-shirt and denim jacket, stands with his arms crossed.

Chayka defines taste as an elevated subjectivity, a way you consciously place yourself both within and against the world: “We make constant decisions to listen to, read, or wear one thing instead of another. These choices are intimate, reflecting our ephemeral moods and the slow building of our individual sensibilities — of our senses of self. ... Taste is a word for how we measure culture and judge our relationship to it.”

Taste is how you discriminate, in the most neutral sense of that word. But later, the emphasis on taste, a capacity theoretically any human has, shifts toward good taste, a quality of the few rather than the many: “When taste is too standardized, it is degraded. ... Consumption without taste is just undiluted, accelerated capitalism.” A whiff of social status drifts in: “There are two forces forming our tastes ... the first is our independent pursuit of what we individually enjoy, while the second is our awareness of what it appears that most other people like, the dominant mainstream. The two may move in opposite directions, but it’s often easier to follow the latter, particularly when the Internet makes what other people are consuming so immediately.”

So if everyone else is jumping off the bridge of Marvel’s “Madame Web” (12% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes , 57% audience score), you don’t have to follow them. Go listen to some 12-tone Schoenberg string quartets and commune with God, and your selfhood will remain secure.

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Dec. 3, 2023

But Chayka’s valid analysis of how algorithmic curation dulls our creative agency overlaps messily with the centuries-old anxiety of the aesthete within modernity, where all subjective opinions are ultimately equal, never more-so than in the marketplace. “These days the fee even for authors of repute is very small, whereas the tips dropped to the literary hacks are very considerable,” Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard bemoaned in 1846.

What the internet performs, and what platforms perfect, is an occult crowd summoning that illustrates just how outnumbered and irrelevant the snob really is. Picture the food critic from “Ratatouille,” Anton Ego , standing amid the biggest never-ending Black Friday mall crush in human history, and you’ve got an idea of how it feels to create a Substack newsletter in 2024 to write some literary essays for the web.

This particular flattening effect of platforms comes less from the rise of manipulative algorithmic whizbangery than the sheer presence of other people and the consumer purchasing power they represent . “In the place of physical hotels and airports, we have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok as spaces of congregation that erase differences,” Chayka writes. “There is now also the generic global consumer, whose preferences and desires are molded more by the platforms they use than where they live.” Access to a massive global market, combined with powerful analytics and social media feedback effects, create ever-more powerful incentives for even genius creatives to give the crowd the mush it wants.

Rotten Tomatoes is one of those places where you can still watch the old culture fight the new in a grotesque pit. (Isn’t my love for romantic schlock like 1997’s “The Saint,” starring Val Kilmer in an absurd number of disguises, just as valid as the British Film Institute’s adoration of “Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” as the greatest film of all time?) The review-aggregation website has different percentages to measure the mood of the experts versus the mood of the masses, kind of like a weather forecast that tells you what kind of class warfare the new “Spider-Man” is unleashing this week.

“The behavior of these social media hordes represents an anti-democratic, anti-intellectual mind-set that is harmful to the cause of art and antithetical to the spirit of movies,” longtime New York Times film critic A.O. Scott bemoaned in a farewell essay explaining why he was leaving film criticism. “Fan culture is rooted in conformity, obedience, group identity and mob behavior, and its rise mirrors and models the spread of intolerant, authoritarian, aggressive tendencies in our politics and our communal life.”

So let’s say all this consumer unthinkingness and the enclosure of new intellectual possibilities is incipient fascism. Unplug to end the alien dance and go find yourself: the authentic you, away from the data surveillance, away from the crowds. It will almost certainly be more restful, as Chakya found.

But trying to find some neighborhood of your city that hasn’t been impacted in some way by an internet platform is like searching for a corner of Earth untouched by climate change. Google and Waze have changed cities’ traffic patterns; Yelp directs eaters to some restaurants over others, influencing which ones close and which survive; Spotify playlists are running in the the restaurant you picked; TikTok fashion trends are reflected in the clothes of the people you see; people have transformed their own faces in pursuit of homogenous Instagram beauty standards .

The digital is the real. Recommendation algorithms, the companies that control them and the crowds that use them have already recreated the world. What matters most isn’t an unattainable sense of individual authenticity — you’re not some Philip K. Dick cyborg who can sync up and cycle back to factory settings, purging the hard drive to compress yourself just small enough to slip through the firewall of human history. What’s achievable for proper people is a better collective competency about what the platform economy does to us and what it wants us to do next. That’s when we can choose to do something different, if we want. Call it a matter of taste.

More to Read

FILE - The ChatGPT app is displayed on an iPhone in New York, May 18, 2023. A federal judge on Thursday, June 22, imposed $5,000 fines on two lawyers and a law firm in an unprecedented instance in which ChatGPT was blamed for their submission of fictitious legal research in an aviation injury claim. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

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whats the website that writes essays

Matt Pearce was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times from 2012 to 2024. He previously covered the covering internet culture and podcasting, the 2020 presidential election and spent six years on The Times’ national desk, where he wrote stories about violence, disasters, social movements and civil liberties. Pearce was one of the first national reporters to arrive in Ferguson, Mo., during the uprising in 2014, and he chased Hurricane Harvey across Texas as the storm ravaged the Lone Star State in 2017. A University of Missouri graduate, he hails from a small town outside Kansas City, Mo.

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