Best Writing Apps: A Review

BEST WRITING APPSWhere would we be without the Internet? Jeez, I shudder to think… It seems that nowadays there’s an app for whatever pursuit that you happen to be, ahem, pursuing. For writers, there has never been so many tools out there to increase your output, stimulate your creativity, organize your workflow, and so on. Let’s take a look at a few of the best writing apps out there and see if you can bring your writing into the 21st century.

Best Writing Apps 1: iA Writer

If there’s one free app that I could recommend for you to immediately download for iOS users out there, allow me to present iA Writer. This app offers a no-nonsense interface for writing out text and styling it in Markdown, along with a number of really useful features like “syntax highlighting,” which allows you to see every instance of adjectives, nouns, adverbs and so on.

My best combination with iA Writer was in conjunction with an external USB keyboard that could create WordPress-ready blogs that I’d otherwise have to finish piecemeal on my laptop later on (who’s got time for that?).

My only problem with the app is that Android users are out of luck, as iA Writer sorely lacks a number of features that make it indispensable. So it goes…

Best Writing Apps 2: Penana

Writing’s a solitary profession. Who doesn’t need a community of writers and tools at your fingertips all in one app? That’s where Penana comes in. Advertised modestly as “The ‘Storyworld’ for Story Showcasing and Collaborative Publication,” Penana is that and much more:

  • Social: Downloading Penana grants you access to display your own works and check out other writers’ work, with the ability to collaborate and review. Similar to other social networks, you can comment, “like,” bookmark for later reference and so forth, as well as easily share your work on other social media cites instantly. There’s also the ability to form groups for whatever purpose you deem necessary (i.e. critique, niche groups, etc.). That can help separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak…
  • Competition: This apps also gives you the ability to host and join regularly-held writing contests, giving you an idea of your talent/output compared to other writers in the marketplace. There’s also a weekly-updated leaderboard on the most-read pieces to stoke your competitive spirit. If this doesn’t get you writing, I don’t know what will!
  • Write: Speaking of writing, Penana allows you an easy way to author your own works within the community within a familiar text-input interface. Combined with the previous attributes, Penana makes it simple to write and edit your stories that saves your drafts or publishes your work via Penana’s social network.

While Penana is geared towards fiction writers of nearly every imaginable genre, there’s also room for personal memoirs, dream journals, blogs, non-fiction articles, poetry, etc. Did I mention that joining Penana is completely free? You owe it to yourself to go bananas with Penana!

Best Writing Apps 3: Trello

I know, I know. I’ve mentioned the merits of the app Trello many times before, but it certainly bears repeating: Trello changed my life. If you’re looking for free collaborative workspace that also doubles as a repository for just about any creative endeavor, do yourself a favor and get Trello NOW. It’s free, damnit!

I use Trello for clients, future writing projects, queries, to-do lists, and organizing my content. Trello’s simple system of “cards” arranged on “boards” works like your own virtual cork-board—and it’s certainly more fun than stepping on a tack. It can help you version-control works, especially since you can upload in-progress pieces or create a workflow tailored to each individual project—really handy when you’re working with subcontractors.  Finally, Trello has a system of notifications so that you know instantaneously when changes have been made—that’ll keep you on top of projects. Perfect for all the A-type personalities out there.

Best Writing Apps 4: Oblique Strategies

While this one wasn’t directly developed for writers, it certainly bears mentioning. Oblique Strategies helps further your creative decision-making by offering non-traditional aphorisms and strategies to help you out of mental jams. The idea is that you can utilize chance to your advantage, allowing for happy-accidents and non-linear thinking to dictate your creativity. By following along, you can incorporate or eliminate elements that you might otherwise discard.

The concept of OS was originally developed by musicians Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt in the 70’s, so this is just the free version—you don’t have to carry the original deck of cards everywhere you go.

Like hypnotism, it helps to trust in the directions that the app gives you. I use it to suss out just where my gut feeling is at the time. For instance, I just booted OS up and I received the phrase “Repetition is a form of change.” Hmmm, pretty cryptic, but like hypnotism, it helps to trust in the directions that the app gives you.

Best Writing Apps 5: Dragon Naturally Speaking

Writing isn’t just about writing, you know. The end game is how those words eventually end up on the page so someone can eventually read it. That’s why I lean towards dictation software like Dragon Naturally Speaking, which 10x’s my output.

If you’re leery to use Dragon, I don’t blame you. Their old programs used to be buggy, leaving you with incomprehensible “word salad” that you’d end up spending almost as much time editing as you would’ve typing. HOWEVER, things have changed—Dragon really stepped it up and I find myself with flawless text. The key is that you have to spend some time training and using the app to ensure that it tailors its output to your unique speech patterns.

Best of all, you can take previously-recorded sound files and have them transcribed at your leisure. It’s like having a transcriptionist on your payroll!

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That about does it for our recommendations for the best writing apps out there. Be sure to not only download them, but actively integrate them into your workflow—you may be surprised with the results.

Happy writing!

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