Writing apps are so easy to find. Almost every day there is a new one available.
But how many writing apps do you need?
For most writers, I’m sure the answer will be very few.
I’m writing every single day. But when I think about which writing tools and apps I use the most, it makes for a very short reading list.
Apps for Writers
I doubt that too many writers still use a pen and paper or a typewriter.
For most of us, we have a laptop computer, and we slave away at the keyboard all day.
Depending on what you write, the best writing apps will be the ones that suit you and your writing needs.
For a short story writer, Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, or Google Docs are all ideal.
If you are writing articles and content for websites, almost any word processor can do the job effectively.
Although there are many fantastic book and novel writing desktop apps and programs, I know a lot of authors who still happily use Word.
I’m fortunate in that I get to try a lot of new writing software. But unusually, this article is not a top ten list of the best writing tools and apps.
Instead, what I would like to cover is how few apps you need to write effectively and productively.
How many writing apps do you use?
Whether you’re writing long-form or short-form, what tools do you use day in and day out?
For Mac and Windows users, the answers might be slightly different. But I would say probably Apple Pages or Microsoft Office.
The writing process is not all that complicated. All you need is a keyboard and software with a few formatting options to process your keystrokes.
After that, you probably use one of the many writing, spelling, and grammar checkers.
Because the checking tools in word processors are not always great, I’d take a guess and say that many writers probably use the free Grammarly browser extension.
Do you use any dedicated writing apps on mobile devices?
I doubt it, apart from perhaps a note-taking app. Your phone is for messages and social media, right?
Whatever your writing project, my estimate would be that you only use two or three apps regularly.
What writing tools do I use?
I write a lot of online content for blog posts and articles.
All I need is a text editor and a correction tool.
A few years ago, I would write all my content in Word or Pages, and then copy the text into WordPress.
But now, the WordPress editor has all the formatting tools I need as well as a progressive word count.
I use a small plugin, Black Studio TinyMCE, that adds a lot of extra formatting functions to the basic WordPress editor.
The other advantage is that the Grammarly extension works hand in hand with WordPress.
I can do a one-click correction or open the full editor to analyze my text—all without leaving my WordPress editor screen.
Lastly, the editor has two views. I can use visual mode as in the image above, or in text mode where I can edit HTML.
The only other tools I use are Text Edit for a little note-taking, and occasionally the Hemingway app to check my reading ease.
What about writing books?
When I wrote my first book many, many years ago, my notes and research were all handwritten.
I might still have the file gathering dust somewhere.
From memory, I think I used a word processing program on a Commodore Amiga computer. That is showing my age a little.
But later on, I progressed to using Microsoft Word because I had PC computers. In more recent years, after I became a regular Mac user, I switched to Apple Pages.
I tried Scrivener a little while back. Yes, it’s a great program full of so many features, and I know a lot of authors love it.
However, I found it a little confusing to get started. I wasted so much time trying to learn how to use it that I thought my time could be better spent writing.
I have tried a lot of other programs, but sometimes all the bells and whistles don’t help a lot in getting the words out.
A few weeks ago, I trialed a new book writing program, and perhaps I might try using it for my next book.
What I liked most about LivingWriter was the overall simplicity. It only took me a few minutes to set it up, and I could start writing.
The other tool that I have been using regularly in recent years for books is Prowritingaid.
It is much better at checking and giving terrific insights and suggestions to polish and improve my long-form writing.
My very short app list
I said earlier that this would make for short reading.
1. WordPress Editor – every day
2. Grammarly – every day
3. Pages – often
3. Text Edit – often
4. Prowritingaid – when checking a manuscript
5. Hemingway – occasionally
What writing apps do you use?
There are so many subscription-based and free writing apps to choose from now.
I’m sure you’ve tried dozens of them and have a lot hidden away on your computer. Perhaps you have some trial versions still lurking on your hard drive.
Do you have a long list of bookmarks to online writing tools and apps?
But how often do you use all of them? All the time, sometimes, rarely or never?
I know I used a cute little app to write a sentence upside down a few years ago. I still have it bookmarked but have never found a need for it since.
Yes, it’s fun to try out all these writing software, tools, and apps, but how many do you use regularly?
Tools for article writers
If you are writing web content and articles, do you use any tools other than Google Docs, Open Office, or Word?
Perhaps a free grammar checker, and that’s it.
You don’t need much more of a toolset to write well.
If you are part of a team, you might have collaboration tools, but they are not part of your writing process.
For authors, it might be a different story.
Do you use a specialized book writing program or a premium app?
You want your writing to be as perfect as possible, so do you have a premium writing checker?
It’s a personal choice. You can only write well if you feel comfortable with the tools you need to work with every day.
But Tucker Max makes a good point in his article about book writing software. He says that all the software you need to write a book is already on your computer.
He also says that none of your favorite authors use specialized software.
You can find proof of this on Twitter. J K Rowling posted this reply to the question about what she uses a couple of years ago.
If nothing else, it’s a great plug for Microsoft. But I wonder if her pen is a Mont Blanc or Caran d’Ache.
Yes, there are hundreds of writing apps available for free or on a subscription today.
I know, because I have written a few list articles about lots of them.
But are they beneficial to your writing?
Yes, perhaps one or two offer good value and can help you write better.
But quite honestly, you don’t need a lot of fancy apps if you have reasonable writing skills.
Any text editor will record your words, and you can save, export, or copy and paste them anywhere.
Yes, we live and write online. But little has changed since the typewriter and carbon paper.
You need to have an original and to keep a copy safe. Cloud storage makes this easy to do.
I doubt that you need a lot of programs to keep your writing safe and secure or to write any better.
How many apps do you use?