Writer’s Toolkit: Essential Software
No matter what type of writing you specialize in, there are a myriad of things that can slow down the process. Access to top notch tools and resources can help you organize ideas, polish your writing, and stay on task. If you are looking to add essential software or apps to your toolkit, below are some great ones to consider.
Capture and Organize Ideas and Inspiration
Evernote lets you capture inspiration from anywhere, and it does so via your PC or your mobile device. You can capture text, web content, audio clips, and more and then automatically sync with your other devices.
OneNote is another great way to keep track of the plethora of ideas that can pop into your head at any given moment. OneNote also has a great tool that lets you capture a screen shot and send it directly to a specified section so you can use it later.
Microsoft Word is one of the most popular word processors around, and nothing without reason. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Word is a great way to get your ideas down on the page and the newest versions come complete with a host of other resources like Smart Look Up and Tell Me, available at the click of your mouse.
OpenOffice Writer is an open source and free to use word processing program that looks and operates similar to Microsoft Word. Available for PC and Mac users. If you’ve been using Word there won’t be much of a learning curve.
This free and open source word processing program works similar to and is fully compatible with Microsoft Word. This means you shouldn’t have to worry about what your document will look like following a conversion. It is available for PC, Mac, and Linux users.
Google Docs is free and great for documents requiring multiple writers or editors. You can see who else is viewing or working in the document and also color code the input of different users for visual distinction.
Ulysses III—This one is for Mac users and is under $50. It uses Markdown, which makes life easier for web writers with a text to HTML conversion tool. Make sure you check out Mou and Editorially as well, both for Markdown users.
For Novel Writers
- Scrivener-For Mac and PC users, this is available for less than $50. It is an all-in-one writing program that is popular with many, and is also used by published authors. It is easy to use, flexible, and lets you export your writing into different formats including popular e-book platforms.
- yWriter5-This is a free bare-bones version of Scrivener. A great tool to help you organize the structure of your novel. You can also set writing goals by word count or amount of time.
- Trelby—If you’re new to screenwriting and looking for some free help with the formatting of your screenplay, Trelby is a great place to start.
- Fade In-if scriptwriting is your thing, check out Fade In. It’s available for Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems. At $50 it’s a steal, and it comes complete with tools to help you organize, rewrite, and format your work.
- Final Draft—This one is a little more expensive at around $250, but is available for both PC and Mac users. If you’re writing full time and specialize in screenplays, you will probably already have this.
Improve and Polish Your Writing
A handy little app, this is great for checking the readability of your work, especially if you need to write for a specific reading level. It highlights and rates the number of lengthy or hard to read sentences, and also covers passive voice, adverbs, and other pesky bad habits.
For Markdown users, this comes with tools designed to help you nix bad habits such as “Visualize Word Repetition”. VWR highlights repetitive words and phrases throughout your document so you can swap them out.
Dictionary—There are a ton of resources out there for your dictionary and thesaurus needs. Some examples are The Sage, Merriam-Webster, Dictionary.com Apps, and Thesaurus Rex.
Correct grammar is crucial if you want to put your best pen forward. In all honesty, most writers could use a little help, which is where Grammarly comes into play. You can write directly in Grammarly or paste your document in when its complete. For help with grammar in everyday writing such as emails and social media posts, enable the browser add-on. There is a free trial version for Grammarly and after that, it’s a subscription service at a cost of about $140 annually.
- DropBox is well-known in the writer arena and for good reason. You can store your files for free or via several different monthly subscription plans, syncing them across all your devices. This means as a writer you will never again be stuck with time to write but no access to your work.
- OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage space. It works great and is extremely easy to use but you must have and maintain a Microsoft account and login to use it.
- Google Drive works similarly to OneDrive and is great for storage, especially if you need to continually share updated documents with clients. You can share entire folders or specific documents with individual users as needed by using just their email address.
Write or Die—This is a productivity app that doesn’t block you from distracting websites but instead hands out consequences for not writing. The good news is that you set your own goals and the level of torture you receive if you don’t comply.
WriteMonkey—Although the interface appears bare bones, this word processor is packed with hidden features so you can keep that internal editor in check until you are ready.
This is a free and open source app for Mac users designed to block you from visiting distracting websites. Set your distraction free time period, add those tempting sites to your no-fly list and start writing.
- CopyScape and PlagScan are both online resources that you can use to check your work against unintentional plagiarism. Each have both a free and paid version.
- Tiki-Toki—This handy app that is great for making visual timelines.
- Page Plus—This handy little tool is great for desktop publishing projects such as booklets and newsletters. It comes with a variety of already created templates which let you create eye-catching written content without having to do the design and layout work.
- Poetreat—If you think you could be a poet and not know it, check out this handy little app designed specifically to help you find your rhyme.
Tools and resources can only get you so far no matter what the genre. Find the ones that suit your needs as a writer, and then get down to business. Every writer has heard it and every best-selling author has said it repeatedly, “if you want to write you have to discipline yourself to write every day, no matter what”. Share your favorite writing tool below so other writers can check it out too.