Writing is a deeply human art. Whether it’s a WordPress blog post, news story, ad copy or even an emotionally engaging email or social media caption, writing requires personality and feeling that comes from your heart. But that’s no reason technology can’t play a role in helping make you a better writer.
To help, we put together a list of the eight best writing apps (that go beyond just spellcheck and word count) that will strengthen your writing game no matter what writing project you’re working on, whether you’re mind-mapping or getting copy ready for a new webpage.
Ambience is everything when it comes to a productive writing session. And research has shown that a moderate level of ambient noise is ideal for creative cognition. This free app, a white-noise-machine-meets-soundboard, lets you curate your own soundscape by combining any of 10 themed settings. (Also check out: Soundrown, Coffitivity, Noisli)
How can you be expected to craft a compelling narrative or tight, clean copy with social media on in the background? You can’t (at least without an incredible amount of willpower). Enter: Freedom, an app- and website-blocker that gives you the gift of focus. You can block specific apps or websites, or the entire Internet, for however much time you want. Begin a block on the fly when the writing process strikes, or create a schedule that automatically initiates your blocks during the times you know you typically write. (Also check out: Focus, Focus Booster)
Calmly is a simple distraction-free writing tool with an insanely easy-to-use interface that blocks out all the bells and whistles of a typical word processing interface and lets you zero in on just the words. Tons of keyboard shortcuts, markdown formatting and “focus mode” (highlighting only the paragraph you’re currently working on) makes it a fruitful note-taking and editing tool (and maybe one of the best apps out there!). (Also check out: Typora, Focused)
Confident with your ability to weave a compelling story, but sometimes shaky with subject-verb agreement or dangling modifiers? This free writing app scans your text for grammatical mistakes and not only prompts you to correct them, but explains why so you can learn for the future. (Also check out: Hemingway, Cliche Finder)
This wouldn’t be a roundup of writing apps without Scrivener. This tool is like a digital three-ring-binder, gathering all of your notes, research and writing in one easily manageable place so you can move between your manuscript and reference materials with ease. Scrivener’s text editor is like a word processor on steroids, with easy-to-use formatting, annotation, style and footnote settings that save time and stress. You can even set writing targets for yourself and track your progress, and when you’re ready to share your writing project you can print using formatting automatically tailored to submission guidelines or else export to a wide variety of file formats like a PDF. (Also check out: Ulysses, ia Writer, Evernote)
Do you ever wonder if something you wrote only sounds good in your head, but won’t quite resonate when someone else reads it? Try Readable. It’s a text analyzer that makes your writing clearer and easy to understand using powerful readability algorithms that look for measures like keyword density, sentence length, syllable count and more. (Also check out: Expresso)
Draft is a streamlined word processing platform that takes the nightmare out of version control. If you’re collaborating with anyone on a piece of writing, be it a co-writer, an editor or just a friend or colleague who’s giving your work a sanity check, tools like Google Docs or Microsoft Word make versioning difficult. You can’t super easily accept individual changes, or refer to previous drafts that have since been edited over. With Draft you can. Two other cool features: Hemingway Mode, a “write first, edit later” setting useful for rough drafts which temporarily turns off your ability to delete anything; and Ask a Professional, which lets you solicit edits from a staff of reviewers. (Also check out: Zoho Writer, Dropbox Paper)
Writer’s block got you stymied? Check out Writing Challenge, a writing app that kick-starts your creativity by prompting you with any of thousands of different story starters (example: “Begin with the sentence ‘The letter was from his father.’”). You can even set a timer and challenge yourself to write against the clock. (Also check out: iDeas for Writing)
Whether you’re on a mac or windows, or an android, iphone or ipad user, there’s an ios app or web app out there for you that is sure to improve your writing process and writing style in no time. Next time you whip out your notepad or open up a document in Google drive or a web browser, take a look at some of these writing apps to ensure distraction free-writing.