Latest posts by Brad Smith (see all)
- “F-You, Pay Me.” How to Get Paid to Write - November 14, 2019
- The 7 Best Writing Tools to Write More, Faster, in Less Time - April 17, 2019
Writing is easy.
A pen and paper is all you need, and you can start jotting down your thoughts.
But writing a thought-provoking blog post, persuasive web copy or a non-fiction book is not as easy as taking out your notebook and start rambling.
And in this post, I’m taking on the third pillar of writing, i.e., ‘technology.’
We’ll discuss 7 tools that are tailor-made to assist you in different levels of writing.
Of course, depending on your writing process, you might not need all 7 of them, but I bet you can’t say no to #1 and #4 (and also #2 if you’re an author).
So without wasting any time, let’s see what these tools are and how they can help you write better and in a more relaxed manner.
1. Grammarly (Grammar + Plagiarism)
Not every writer is a grammar geek.
And it’s common to miss tiny details like ‘you’re cat’ in place of ‘your cat.’
However, mistakes like those make you look like a ludicrous in front of your readers; not to mention, the embarrassment when someone alleges you of stealing their content.
Enters the writers’ best friend Grammarly.
But if you’re still wondering what Grammarly is, it’s an AI-Powered app that catches almost every possible grammatical issues in your content ranging from spelling mistakes to passive voice to sentence fragments and what not.
Apart from that, its ability to check plagiarized content can woo your socks off.
Here’s everything that makes Grammarly a no-brainer for every writer:
#1. Starting with the most significant strength, Grammarly scans your file for misspelled words, wrong punctuation, redundancy, sentence fragments, passive voice, tautology, and many more.
In short, it can clean all your mess. And the best part?
It not only points out the errors but also suggests correct alternatives so that you don’t need to open the thesaurus and spend half an hour searching for the perfect word.
#2. I’m also a massive fan of the in-depth report Grammarly provides where it compares your content against all the other content stored in its database and gives an overall score.
However, it doesn’t stop there. You also get to know the average length of your sentences, readability score, your vocabulary diversity, and all the writing issues with description.
#3. Using Grammarly is like a walk in the garden. All it asks from you is to either type the words, upload a document or simply paste your content and the play starts.
#4. Lengthy sentences, if not written well, can bore the $#@! out of any reader. That’s why writers are always advised to write in short and crisp sentences.
And Grammarly’s conciseness feature breaks the complex sentence structures into digestible chunks. It makes your overall writing look clean as well as helps the readers understand your message.
#5. Grammarly can check up to 300 documents or 150,000 words in a month. Whereas, in a day, you can scan up to 24,000 words or 100 docs in a day.
And that’s a generous upper limit considering an average writer write a maximum of 5000 or at MAX 10,000 words a day. So chances are you would never hit the ceiling.
Plus, you can also use the tool as an extension of Chrome, Safari, FireFox, and Edge.
#7. It supports five different style guides including:
- The Chicago Manual of Style
- MLA for Citation Style guides
- Swan’s Practical English Usage
- APA 6th edition
- The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language for grammar guides
#8. It’s easy to get caught in the plagiarism trap without even knowing and before someone accuse you of stealing their content, the plagiarism checker of Grammarly can save your a$$.
It scans more than 16 billion web pages and ProQuest’s database to find duplicate contents; making it the most precise plagiarism checker in the market.
#9. And finally, the one thing that places Grammarly a level ahead of its competitors is the availability of human proofreading facility.
Though it comes with a cost depending on the turnaround time, it well worth the money because nothing can beat human eyes; not even an AI-Powered software.
2. Scrivener (Writing App)
Microsoft Word days are gone. Now, you need a more sophisticated place to turn your thoughts into words, and Scrivener is the champion of champions in this category.
Scrivener is the all-in-one writing app that caters to the need of everyone from a casual blogger to a New York Times Bestselling author.
Moreover, its minimal one time fee of $45 makes it a no brainer.
Here are all the reasons why Scrivener has been the favorite of most of the writers for years:
#1. The most significant advantage of Scrivener is it gives you the freedom to dissect your entire project into different sections and then, edit each part separately.
That makes completing large projects like novels, screenplays, or a long-form guide less daunting.
#2. Scrivener lets you store all your research notes within the software. You can save all your notes, images, and even webpages either in a single place or classified it according to the different sections of your project.
Besides this, using the split screen feature, you can place your research notes and actual writing side by side so that you don’t need to hop around different docs every time you want to pull out a source or double check a fact.
#3. Scrivener makes it dead simple to organize the different parts of a project. All it requires is a gentle drag and drop, and your job is done.
#4. What makes writing on Scrivener even more accessible is the existence of more than a dozen pre-written templates that save you from staring at the blank page for hours and get you started with your project in minutes.
#5. The snapshot feature in Scrivener enables you to take and store numerous versions of your content so that if you don’t like any future edits, you can still roll back to your older copy.
#6. It doesn’t matter whether you have a PC running on Windows or a Mac computer, Scrivener works smoothly with both the operating systems.
However, I didn’t find the iOS app to be as effective as the desktop app.
#7. Distractions are the biggest enemy of a writer as it always hinders you from getting that flow. But the “Full-Screen mode” in Scrivener spreads across the entire screen and blocks all the on-screen interruptions like notifications, emails, icons, etc.
In my Scrivener tutorial, I’ve also shown how you can make full use of the full-screen mode to finish your projects before deadlines.
(If Scrivener is a little too robust, Write! App is my favorite, slimmed-down alternative.)
3. Monday (Productivity tool)
Monday is a project management software that uses tables/spreadsheets to help you keep a tab on the progress of your writing projects.
It might sound like MS Excel, but, in reality, Excel is nowhere near Monday. Monday has a more colorful interface and has a more appealing in terms of visuals.
The in-built calendar makes it even more effective because you can use it to schedule your future blog posts or activities.
This makes Monday a double-threat as it works as a task manager as well as an editorial calendar.
Let’s see what it else it has for you:
#1. Monday relies on a minimalistic approach and operating the software is a cakewalk. You can create a new project with a single click on the “+New” button on the top left side and organize the entire row/column or specific boxes by a mere drag and drop afterward.
#2. Sometimes it can be tough to create and decide the structure of the table and Monday knows it very well. That’s why it offers a variety of templates to choose from to get going with the app in no time.
These templates are highly customizable, so you can alter them according to your project.
#3. Integration makes it easy to use multiple tools from a single place. And fortunately, Monday can be Integrated with over 50 applications including most of the daily use apps like Gmail, Dropbox, Slack, Trello, Stripe, Zoom, MailChimp, and many more.
However, the only catch is, you would need to sign up for their top premium plans (Pro and Enterprise) to unlock all the 50+ integrations.
#4. Talking about integrations, Monday is one of the few task management tools that also facilitates you to track how much time you’re spending on a specific task.
You can insert a ‘time tracking column’ by going to its ‘Column Center.’
#5. Monday is primarily designed for teams. So, if you have a team of writers or run an agency (like me), you would love the collaboration feature that enables you to onboard your entire group and let you assign specific tasks to your team members.
You can also share a document or file with your colleagues and ask for feedbacks within the app.
#6. And finally, it has a function called ‘My Week’ that reveals the other side of Monday where it works as your weekly calendar or to-do list tool.
You can use ‘My Week’ as your editorial calendar, and it’ll show you all the tasks that are due in the current week, what you’ve planned next week and which tasks are still overdue.
4. FocusMe (Focus)
“In a world filled with distraction, attention is our competitive advantage.” I’ve heard this line in the book “Manage your day-to-day.”
And FocusMe is the perfect companion for you if you often find yourself off track at regular intervals.
FocusMe emerged as the most complete time tracking app which is loaded with everything you need to increase focus and write more in less time.
Following are the reasons why FocusMe should be part of your writing toolkit:
#1. As soon as you install the application on your desktop, it starts tracking the amount of time you spend on each website and app.
And then it lays out the findings in a detailed report under the ‘website stat’ or ‘app stat’ section.
In this way, you get a clear understanding of which website or app is eating most of your time.
#2. Once you’ve figured out where you’re spending most of your time, you have the option to block that specific website or app for a certain period.
I mostly block all social media sites and incoming emails while writing. It helps me stay focused while still enabling me to send new emails if I want to use the special feature.
You can follow this short and sweet tutorial by FocusMe to set it for Gmail or Outlook.
#3. If you’re someone who likes writing in POMODORO sessions, FocusMe is the right tool. It allows the users to customize the number of sessions they need, and duration of each session and break.
#4. With FocusMe you get the freedom to schedule and track daily and weekly tasks. In fact, it goes above and beyond to offer you the best experience by allowing you to even choose the starting and closing time of each of your assignments.
This way you are not required to remember anything. FocusMe will remind you of what tasks you need to perform at what time and it automatically starts tracking your time, too, for that specific work.
#5. I generally don’t back the idea of going for a cheap tool to save a few bucks. But when you take into account a time tracking app, I always prefer playing the low ball game.
And FocusMe understands it very well.
You can get your hands on all the premium features of the tool by paying only $2.25 every month.
And you know what’s more exciting?
Students get a 30% discount on all the premium plans, and for those who are not in school or university, you can get 15% off on your orders by only following them on Twitter and Facebook.
This quality alone puts it miles ahead of all the other time tracking apps available on the internet.
Because the harsh reality is, no other tool can match what FocusMe gets a user in such a negligible price.
It’s a real value for money!
5. Mindmeister (Mind Mapping)
Every writing project, whether it’s your next blog post, short story, or a novella, starts with brainstorming ideas.
And unlike what we used to do in the past, i.e., to pull out the notepad and start jotting down ideas, Mindmeister is the modern way to capture thoughts and ideas before they’re gone.
It is a web-based mind mapping tool that comes with an in-built project management feature and is designed to help you brainstorm ideas and share as visually appealing images or PowerPoint presentations.
Here are all the benefits of using Mindmeister as a mind mapping tool:
#1. Mindmeister boasts dozens of stock templates ranging from sales plan to blog post outline that you can use to create your next mind map within seconds and then customize all the fields with your personal information.
#2. What I like the most about Mindmeister is it lets me collaborate with my colleagues in real time, and when we’re happy with the end result, I can convert the mind map into a presentation and send it to our clients.
If you’re a freelance writer, you know how baffling client calls could be some times.
So you can use the presentation feature to explain your thoughts to the client in a more precise manner than doing it on a phone call.
#3. Want to print your mind map and paste it on your wall?
No problem. You can export your mind maps in various formats like JPG, PNG, PPT, Word, PDF and more.
You can also share your creation with your friends directly from the app so that they could give you feedback or use the mind map offline.
#4. Mindmeister offers a number of integration options that include almost all the daily use applications. Some notable mentions are Microsoft Office, Google Drive, Dropbox, Google Docs, Box, and many more.
These integrations are super-handy if you’re someone like me who often start the brainstorming process by writing a couple of ideas on Google Docs.
Using these integration facilities, you can upload your doc straight to the Mindmeister tool and vice versa.
#5. Being a web-based app is also a major plus point for this tool. Since it’s web-based, you can access your account from any computer regardless of its operating system.
Moreover, smartphone users can do the same thing in their dedicated iOS, and Android app.
And wait, wait, wait. I’ve saved the best part for the end.
You can use Mindmeister on as many devices as you want as long as you’ve access to the Internet.
6. SugarSync (Backup Software)
What if you just completed your manuscript and all of a sudden, lose all your data by a cyber attack.
For a writer, this is no less than a nightmare.
And in this digital era, where every third computer in the USA is prone to cyber attacks, it’s common for many writers to face this nightmare in their real life.
This is where backup services like SugarSync comes into play.
SugarSync is cloud-based backup and sharing software that backup your data in a secure place and provide a safe path to share files with your friends and family.
Take a look at everything SugarSync has to offer:
#1. SugarSync can backup all sorts of files – be it images, files, folders, or videos.
You can backup everything in a few clicks and also, restore your files one-by-one or all at once with the same comfort & ease on any computer or device.
2. Once you’re done backing up your files, it automatically syncs all the changes you make in the original version.
Also, if manually backing data looks intimidating to you, you can set it up to store all your files automatically while you deal with other works on your computer.
#3. SugarSync allows you to create up to five different versions of your data. This feature is handy for those who are extra cautious about their files.
I personally have two different versions of my data. And I would recommend you NOT to store all the variants at the same place.
Use different places to keep different versions so that even if you lose the first version, you can recover everything from the second one.
#4. You can integrate Zapier with SugarSync and import files like Gmail attachments without doing any manual organization saving you precious time and efforts that you can invest in other activities.
#5. And last but certainly not the least, SugarSync uses the industry standard 256-bit AES encryption to protect your files from hackers while you share it with others.
That means, barring you and the receiver, no one can read or steal your files.
7. Adobe Photoshop CC (Image Editor)
Pictures and words go hand in hand.
A picture makes your writing more lively and helps you convey your message more effectively.
No wonder, blog posts with images see as much as 94% more views than blog posts without images.
Well, don’t get so flabbergasted because you can experience the same results when you start adding high-quality photos to your writing.
And when we talk about creating high-quality images, the first and most natural thing that comes to our mind is Adobe Photoshop.
A tool which has become synonymous of photo editing. Here’s why Photoshop CC is the best of the bests in editing photos:
#1. Photoshop has the broadest set of editing tools that enable you to play with images the way you want and add any effect of your choice.
From removing the background to changing colors, and cleaning the spots to altering specific sections, you can do anything to create a picture that matches your personality.
And the best part is, you can also create customized animated gifs.
So, why go to gif sites and waste time finding the perfect gif when you can create one?
#2. Using the in-built sharing feature of Photoshop, you can use to share photos on social media sites directly from the app.
I prefer sharing my photos using the in-house feature because it saves me a few crucial minutes every time I feel the need to show off my photo editing chops on Facebook or Instagram.
#3. Photoshop CC is one of the few photo editing tools that provide cloud storage to their users.
You get the option to save your files in your local drive or Adobe’s cloud repository or both.
However, you have to be a paid member to make use of the cloud storage because the free trial lasts only for a week and offers only 2GB of cloud storage.
#4. With Photoshop, you also get to enjoy its flexible license policy that allows users to run the software on two devices using a single license.
So you’ll definitely love this subsidy if you own two different devices. But just make sure, you’re not running the software on both computers simultaneously.
#5. Although you would never want to drop this tool once you get used to of it, Photoshop assures you to refund the total amount of fee if you return the product within the first 14 days of purchase.
So, in a way, you get 21 days (including 7-day trial) to try the service for free.
Writing isn’t just about the actual writing part.
It’s also about streamlining or getting rid of all the other ‘stuff’ that pops up that prevents you from writing.
Grammarly packs a two-in-one punch, giving you both top-of-the-line grammar and plagiarism checking with one app. Don’t finish a paper without it.
Scrivener is the best all-around writing app we’ve seen that has organization, distraction-free writing, cloud storage, and more. Perfect for larger projects with multiple documents. (Write! App is an awesome, minimal alternative.)
Monday is like part task list, part scheduling tool to help keep you on pace. You can break down larger writing projects into smaller, digestible chunks and use it to guide what’s supposed to get done on each day.
FocusMe is like the ultimate productivity coach, allowing you to block different websites and other online distractions that often pull you away from your work.
Mindmeister is the best mind mapping tool we’ve found. You can visually lay out sections or ideas for each piece of content you’re working on, while also drawing connections between different ‘buckets’ of information (like characters and plot lines).
If you are writing on a desktop-based writing app without cloud storage, SugarSync can take care of that for you. Just set up which folders you want to sync automatically and it’ll back up all of your files without you having to do it manually each time.
Finally, when it comes time to add images, Adobe Photoshop is the go-to photo editing option. There is a bit of a learning curve, but there’s also zero limits to what you can produce with it. Otherwise, you can also use the simpler Elements version of Adobe with their Creative Cloud license (you can pay a small monthly fee for access to all of their apps).
All of these writing tools can help you ultimately write faster and produce more work in less time. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about — isn’t it?