Writing tools today are a long way removed from typewriters and carbon paper. The days of sending or posting typed or printed manuscripts are well and truly over.
Every word you write now is digital, electronic, and published via the Internet. You exchange drafts by email or share them on Google Drive. If you go to a writing course, you will use electronic writing tools.
The writing process hasn’t changed, but technology certainly has. Because of this, a writer today needs to use the very best digital writing software.
There are almost unlimited choices when it comes to free writing software. But if you have just started writing, you need to be very selective when you are choosing your new writing apps.
Choose your five best writing tools
You should try a lot of software and apps before you decide which ones work best for you.
Your decisions, in the end, will be based on how and what you write and your writing style.
An article writer will have different needs than an author. A blogger will not need the same tools as a short story writer.
However, there are five writing tasks that all writers have in common.
Finding the best writing app for you for each of these tasks will make sure you have the right tools for the job.
Five tools every writer needs
1. Write. You need to write and save your words securely. You can achieve this in so many ways today.
You might think instantly about Microsoft Word. But it is a business tool and not the best word processing solution for creative writing.
2. Check. A dictionary and thesaurus are a writer’s right and left hands.
Today though, you can access both of these quickly and easily within most writing apps or a grammar checker.
All writers need quality tools to check their writing accuracy and correct any spelling and grammar mistakes.
3. Organize. Every writer needs to keep their ideas and notes organized. You can use a notepad and pen, but your phone is always with you now.
A simple phone note-taking app is often a much better way to stay on top of everything.
4. Design. Whatever you write, you will undoubtedly need some form of image creation.
It could be a mockup of an ebook cover, a featured blog image, or a Facebook header.
5. Promote. Every writer needs to promote their writing using social media and SEO to help find new readers.
Do you want to find the most appropriate and productive tools for your needs?
Here is a selection of some of the best writing tools and apps available today.
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1. Your Writing Program
You probably use WordPress, Google Blogger, or a similar blogging platform. Your in-built editor is usually the best tool to write a new blog post.
Perhaps the only external writing tool you might need is a plain text editor for short texts or HTML code.
Microsoft Notepad for PC and Apple TextEdit for Mac are perfect for this.
But if you prefer to write your posts offline and then paste them into your editor, you can use any free word processor.
- Open Office
- Apple Pages (Mac only)
- Google Docs
Content and article writers
You must have a good word processor. The most popular for short-form writers is Google Docs.
The advantages of Google Docs are first that it is a free tool for writers. Secondly, it makes collaborating and sharing files very easy.
Lastly, unlike other free online word processors, you can use Google docs offline. So you don’t need to be connected to wifi to work.
- WPS Office
- Open Office
Because you are always writing long-form, you face a more complicated decision.
When you write a fiction or nonfiction book, it is a very long process. A good book writing program will let you write in sections and stages.
It should have the facility for you to keep notes about your characters, events, and track your story timeline.
You will be working on a long document over a long period.
Your software needs to save and store in portions or small files. Ideally, you want to save by individual chapters or scenes.
It will keep your manuscript protected far more securely than in one huge MS Word document file.
You should also check if there is an auto-save function. It will make sure you don’t lose a single word of your work. You can then focus on writing instead of remembering to hit the save button continually.
Another consideration is distraction-free writing apps for books. You don’t want menus and annoyances when you are writing a book.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to free, open-source, and premium book writing software.
But one stands head and shoulders above the rest and is the tool of choice for many, many authors.
Scrivener is a great writing tool. It is very well-known as one of the best writing software programs for authors and screenwriters.
It has an outliner, corkboard, side by side viewing, and word count targets.
You can use the full-screen focus mode editor for distraction-free writing.
On top of all that, there are print, export, and publishing tools. Scrivener comes with everything an author could need to help you get to your final draft.
Another advantage is that you can use Scrivener on almost any device.
No matter what your writing habits are, your WIP manuscript is with you at all times.
2. Your Writing Checker
How many writers today have access to proofreaders or copy editors?
Of course, the answer is that very few writers can afford to pay for these services.
But you still have to check that your writing is error-free, up to standard and ready for publishing. You always need to do a thorough grammar and spell check.
There are two excellent options available, but your choice will depend on what you are writing.
By far, the best tool to check and improve a manuscript is Prowritingaid.
It is the best writing analysis tool if you work with very long documents.
You have access to over twenty different reports and tools to analyze your writing in great depth and detail.
The desktop editor is the most powerful part of the program. The interface makes it easy to navigate your document and track your improvements.
Each part of the application is intuitive and logical.
Even if you have never used an online writing assistant before, you will be up and running and productive in only a few minutes.
Another advantage is that Prowritingaid works with Scrivener. It makes it a perfect match for authors.
Every writer knows about Grammarly. It is the tool of choice for bloggers, article writers, and content writers.
The significant advantage is that Grammarly works in almost any online writing situation.
It works with the WordPress editor, Google Docs and Gmail.
With the Chrome browser extension, it works when you write social media posts on Facebook or Twitter, so you can quickly check for any clumsy errors.
The free version is probably the most popular free writing app on the Web. But for working writers, the premium version offers a lot more functionality.
Free or paid, Grammarly is the ultimate online writing protector.
- Ginger Grammar
- Slick Writer
- Hemingway Editor
3. Your Note Organizer
You can keep a notebook and pen in your handbag or pocket. But your phone is a much more convenient way to keep your notes about writing ideas.
The little notes and ideas you jot down are gold. Never write in your head is excellent advice.
It is why having something at hand at all times for note-taking is so vital for any writer.
Your list of ideas will help you as writing prompts and to overcome writer’s block.
Almost all mobile devices have a notes app. But if you want to be able to organize your thoughts a bit better, you can install dedicated apps for Android or an iOS app.
There is always a lot to choose from in any app store. Here are two that are quite popular with writers.
Trello is one of the popular free note apps for writers.
You can organize your writing projects, notes, and to-do lists.
You can even collaborate and assign tasks, start discussions, and so much more.
Evernote is another note app lots of writers use.
You can arrange your ideas and create to-do lists.
There is also a web clipper to save parts of web pages to help you with your writing research.
The free version comes with more than enough storage memory to suit most writers.
- Google Keep
4. Your Graphic Designer
You have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a blog. All of them need fabulous images and graphics to attract attention.
If you are an author, you also need to design, try, and test ebook cover designs.
You love writing, but writing today is not only about your words. You always need images in one form or another.
But you are not a graphic designer. You don’t want to spend months learning how to to use a complicated program like Photoshop or Gimp.
Luckily, there’s a simple solution.
Canva is one of my favorite everyday working tools.
I know nothing about graphic design. But with Canva, I can create stunning blog images, ebook cover mockups, and Facebook and Twitter headers in minutes.
There are lots of sites where you can find royalty-free stock images.
Then all you need to do is upload your image to Canva, resize it, add your text and make it unique.
It is the quickest, easiest, and most straightforward solution for creating fantastic images for all your needs.
- Add Text
- Pic Font
- Microsoft Paint
5. Your Writing Promotion
You have written it, triple-checked, and published. Now you need to attract readers.
Every blogger, author, and content writer knows that you have to promote writing today to help attract readers.
Yes, you can add a few posts on social media.
You can wait for weeks for Google and Bing to index your blog posts or article. You can cross your fingers and hope readers stumble across your ebook on Amazon.
But you need to do more than cross your fingers and hope.
You need to be much more proactive.
Bloggers and article writers
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the starting point. But it takes time to work.
If you have a WordPress site, you can automatically promote your posts on social media. It helps you to get traffic in the first few weeks or months.
I use two plugins that are both available as free or premium versions.
Revive Old Post is a handy WordPress plugin for increasing your blog traffic. I have been using it for years now.
You can share any of your existing posts and pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Tumblr using automated posting schedules. There are filters you can use for date ranges and categories.
Social Networks Auto-Poster (SNAP) is another WordPress plugin for sharing posts and articles on social media. It is slightly more complex to set up.
But you can post to over 20 social different networks and publishing platforms such as Medium, Flipboard, WordPress, ScoopIt, and Blogger.
You know that Amazon is your most important ebook and book retailer. Amazon also uses a form of SEO to index your books.
The most vital pieces of data you need to research are your genre categories and seven search keywords. These all help you to increase sales of your book.
You can use the search function in Amazon and Google to find keyword and category ideas.
But both are limited in how much usable data you can obtain.
There is a much more effective way to find profitable niche categories and effective search keywords.
You will need specialist software that will give you the ability to search the entire Amazon database.
Publisher Rocket gives you access to real-time data that shows you exactly what Amazon book buyers type into Amazon Search.
It shows you how many people search for these keywords every month. It can also help you find profitable keywords for your AMS book advertising campaigns.
Finding the best publishing and writing apps and tools for your needs takes time. You need to assess how well each writing app works for you.
You can find a lot of free writing software and apps that work exceptionally well. But in some cases, you could find that a premium version might be a better solution.
I use many of the tools I have noted in this article. Some I use every day of the week, and others from time to time.
They are all robust, useful, and effective in helping me with writing and publishing.
No matter what you write, you need these five essential tools to be able to write effectively.
You need to write, correct, organize, design, and promote.
Hopefully, some of the writing apps and tools I have suggested in this article will help you write better and more productively.