Writers require minimal tools: a pencil and paper, a computer, a word processor. Some folks prefer the old-fashioned typewriter.
I remember the day I graduated from legal pads and ballpoint pens to my first stand-alone word processor: the Brother Power Note.
Before laptops became affordable and versatile, I carried this clunky, grey contraption in my backpack. I felt invincible, flipping up the rigid, grey lid to hammer out my latest idea against the lime green LCD screen.
Computers have come a long way since the early 90s, and you don’t have to spend a fortune on a reliable laptop and word processor. Thanks to bundled, obligatory software, we can type for free.
But why stop there, when we live in the best of times for digital software and apps? Why settle for minimalism when there’s much to explore?
Writing challenges us to explore fresh angles, to reconfigure old, classic ideas, to find inspiration in the ordinary.
Day after day, we construct new worlds out of words. Somehow, we also manage to recall rules and conventions; we manage to balance style with substance. The demands increase as we progress.
So why do we skimp when it comes to technology and our writing craft?
Think about it.
We consult cellphones and GPS without thinking. We turn to Pinterest for recipes, to Youtube for entertainment. Instead of jumping in the car or picking up the phone, we turn to Facebook to touch base with our family and friends.
Our digital worlds expand every day, so why limit our writing practice to the brain and the hands?
Our digital worlds expand every day, so why limit our writing practice to the brain and the hands? Click To Tweet
It’s silly. Isn’t it?
We can have it all, or at the very least–we can have more, better, and faster…We can have it all, or at the very least--we can have more, better, and faster… Click To Tweet
Check out these innovative writing tools that inspire, motivate, and organize our writing lives.
Bibisco is a free tool and text editor to help writers organize ideas, develop characters, weave a cohesive narrative, and ultimately revise and export completed novels in both pdf and rtf formats.
New Novelist is a writing software system that helps you with the mechanics of writing a novel, complete with tutorials, guides, and an easy-to-use text editor with templates to simplify the actual writing process.
The Writers Store
The Writers Store is a Mac OS-X word processing and project management software system that puts your ideas, research, drafts, and notes in one convenient place. The word processor includes templates for novels, research papers, screenplays, etc., allowing you to compile and export your work into several file formats.
Google Docs is free word processing and document management tool that includes your favorite text editing features and templates. It also simplifies collaboration with real-time editing and an in-document chat feature. Because it’s cloud-based, you can access your work anywhere from any device.
Storyist is another Mac-based tool that moves beyond word processing to actually help you organize your work, track your plot and character development, and produce submission-ready novels and screenplays.
Ommwriter isn’t a writing tool per se, but it does help you focus on your work and eliminate distractions through the use of mood-enhancing backgrounds, audio soundtracks, and even keystroke sounds to encourage and inspire you as you write.
Write or Die
If you suffer with writer’s block or just like to procrastinate, Write or Die is a tool to keep you on track through a series of virtual rewards and punishments based on how many words you write in a day compared to your goal.
Join the online community, and see how your production stacks up against others in the daily leaderboard.
Dragon by Nuance
If you hate to type, Dragon transcribes your spoken word into text at lightning speed. Speak your emails, tweets, notes, reminders, even whole chapters of your book without ever using a keyboard.
MindMup is a tool for easily creating and sharing mind maps.
It lets you organize your brainstorming sessions, structure your writing, craft storyboards, and even attach documents, images, and files to your map. Cloud-based storage allows anytime/anywhere access from any device.
Have trouble coming up with a new idea for a short story, novel, or play? Story Starter is a random idea generator you can use to kickstart your creativity.
If you hate ruining your day with negative comments and Internet trolls, Anti-Social replaces the comments section on your favorite sites with “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” monkeys. You can turn them on again with a simple click.
The Tomato Timer is based on time management techniques developed by Francesco Cirillo.
When you begin work for the day, turn on the timer. It will automatically alert you every 25 minutes to take a short break, and after four 25-minute work sessions, it will prompt you (and time) a longer 10-minute break.
The Tomato method was designed to increase concentration and keep you on task.
WordWeb is a handy dictionary and thesaurus for American, British, Canadian, Australian, and Indian English that integrates with most word-processing systems for one-click functionality within documents.
Free and pro versions are available for both Mac and PC.
AutoCrit is an online editing tool that helps you improve and strengthen your writing. Cut and paste a sentence, paragraph, or page into the AutoCrit window to check for common issues such as passive voice, subject/verb agreement, construction, cliches, and sameness.
Copyscape is an online tool that compares your text against what’s been published on the Internet to check for plagiarism. Paste in your manuscript (up to 2,000 words at a time) and get a report of any similarities with other works.
Kindle Direct Publishing
Get your manuscript or book electronically published in just five minutes and listed in the Kindle store worldwide in less than 48 hours with KDP. Upgrade to Kindle Direct Select and you can list your book in the Kindle Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited program.
Book Design Templates
Book Design Templates saves you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on designer fees and helps you create professional layouts that stand out on a crowded bookshelf or e-reader marketplace. Works with Word, Apple Pages, and Adobe InDesign.
To ePub is a free tool that converts your pdf files into the most popular ebook formats including Kindle, ePUB, MOBI/AZW3, and FB2.
If you want to learn to write bold, strong, powerful prose, use the Hemingway desktop app to analyze your writing and make suggestions for clarity and readability. It also weeds out instances of passive voice.
On to you…
What’s your favorite writing tool?
Share your answer in the comments section below.