Writing. Whether it’s your full-time occupation or a beloved hobby, writing can be a very rewarding endeavour at one point – and then a complete hair-pulling experience at another. And so today I’m going to be sharing with you, my 5 favourite writing tools for helping you get through those hair-pulling days so that you can have more of the rewarding sort.
(This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a commission if you make a purchase using these links. This is at no extra cost to you and is how I earn money as a blogger. For a full disclosure, please see my Policies page. Thank you for your support!)
At last, you’ve managed to sit down for a good hour and pump out several pages of your finest writing. And then your computer suddenly crashes and, in the blink of an eye, all that beautiful work is gone.
Even for those of us who religiously back up our work, the process can be a bit tedious, and it can distract from the actual writing we are meant to be doing. That is why I use Google Docs.
Google Docs is linked to your Google account and is completely free to use. Its best feature? There is no save button. Rather, the application saves your document every few seconds as you are typing. You can be 100% assured that your precious manuscript or latest blog post is being securely backed up to your Google Drive while you’re busy writing it. And once you’re finished writing for the day, easily download your document in a file format of your choice directly to your hard drive, external hard drive, flash disk…
With Google Docs you can also access your documents from anywhere on any device, for easy editing on the go, and you can invite others to collaborate on your latest project. Just don’t get too distracted by the many pre-made templates on offer. We’re here to write after all.
Writing is a task that requires focus and dedication. However, in our world where millions of distractions are only a click away, it can be difficult to keep writing when the Book of Faces and the Tube of You beckon. So why not take the extreme route and get yourself a typewriter? Or rather, turn your laptop or computer into a virtual typewriter using Cold Turkey Writer.
Cold Turkey Writer is a writing application that won’t close until you’ve written a certain number of words or until a certain amount of time has passed. You won’t be able to access any of the other programs on your device until you’ve met your goal. And don’t try to cheat your way out of it with fancy coding skills. It will not work. Copy and paste are disabled too. If you want your computer back, you’ll just have to wait or write those words, mwahaha!
Once you’ve hit your goal, you can take a break before jumping back in, or save your writing as a .txt file to your hard drive. I’d recommend copying that over into your Google Docs document ASAP.
While Cold Turkey Writer has more than adequate free features, the premium version (which costs $10, around R130), offers some pretty neat advanced settings. Like being able to disallow using the backspace key. Talk about an authentic typewriter experience!
If you have a deadline to meet and a word count to track, let me introduce you to Writeometer, your new best friend. This is my absolute favourite writing app. The interface is very aesthetically pleasing, it is simple to use, and it offers a host of statistics to keep you motivated through the writing process.
When adding a new project, all you need to do is enter the name, deadline and target word count. The app will then calculate your recommended daily goal. You can add daily reminders, and there is a built-in Pomodoro timer to track your writing sessions. If you’re someone who likes to work for a reward, you can earn “guavas” based on how long you write for, and then use these to “purchase rewards”, kind of like an RPG game.
The statistics panels are detailed, but I really like the fact that they don’t distract you from the writing process itself. In fact, if you want to see more statistics, you need to write more!
Even when it isn’t April, July or November, the NaNoWriMo word sprints tool is available all year round to use for free on their website. Breaking up an intimidating and lengthy writing session into easier-to-manage small chunks can really help you to get into your latest writing project.
On the website, you can set the timer for any length you want, and then dash off to write as many words as possible within that time. If you’re feeling stuck for inspiration, click the “Dare Me” button for a fun prompt. Always remember to take a small break between sprints!
I always like to start off with a 5 minute warm up sprint, and then work my way up and down in increments of 5 minutes. I’ve found that if I sprint for anything longer than 20 minutes I slow down to a jog, so keep the time setting low for maximum impact!
If you do find yourself in the midst of Camp NaNoWriMo or NaNoWriMo itself, be sure to check out the live Twitter sprints as well! Word Sprints are a great tool if you want to pump out words quickly. Remember that you can always come back and edit later. Which brings me to the last tool on this list:
Think of spell check. Then think of spell check actually doing a good job. That is what Grammarly is there for (it just told me that spell check is spelt spell check and not spellcheck. See?).
The English language can be confusing at best, with all its rules of punctuation, homophones and your different English teachers throughout the ages telling you different things. Grammarly is an awesome application that helps you to make sense of it all while you’re writing and editing your work.
Possibly the best feature of Grammarly is that it can be installed as a browser extension for Chrome. From there, it will analyse all your online text entries, from Facebook to WordPress, pointing out spelling and grammatical errors. It’s easy to fix these by simply hovering over the text and clicking one of the recommended corrections. No more embracing I mean embarrassing typos!
Bonus for Bloggers: Yoast SEO
Blog posts need to meet a lot of standards. They need to have great SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), they need to be formatted in a certain way, and they need to be easily read by their audience. It becomes a lot to keep track of. That is why I love using the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress.
Yoast keeps tabs on all these things in real time, so you can make sure you’re meeting the standards as you’re writing (and not have to go back and do major edits). My favourite feature is the readability score. Thanks to university, I used to write my blog posts as if they were research essays. Too many big words and way too formal. It took a bit of getting used to, but after a couple of weeks of using Yoast I soon learnt how to tone my writing down into a friendlier style.
But with that said, don’t obsess over your Yoast readability score too much. In the end, you should still use your unique voice, and not trust an algorithm to get it right 100% of the time 😉
What’s your favourite writing tool, one that you can’t imagine doing without? Which of the tools I mentioned above are you already using and loving? Let me know in the comments below!
As always, thank you for reading this blog post – I’ll see you in the next one!