Last Updated on: November 7th, 2018
There are 4 essential writing tools that will help you reach your writing goals, whether you’re writing a book, an article, an essay, or publishing a blog post. These 4 tools are guaranteed to increase your effectiveness and your efficiency as a writer.
FYI, this post has been written by Dave Chesson (and edited by Lorraine Reguly, owner of Wording Well).
I’m not an advocate of using a tool for everything. I feel it’s possible to get almost everything you need taken care of as a writer using only the basic tools that come with your computer.
However, I’m a firm believer that a few carefully chosen tools can make a big difference. In some cases, as I’ll discuss, they can even help lower costs in the long run.
So, to help you potentially get the most out of these tools, I’m going to share with you my personal picks for writing that are truly worth your time. They’ve made a big difference to my writing life and I hope they help yours as well.
Essential Writing Tool #1: Specialist Writing Software
The first category of tool I’ll recommend is specialized writing software.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with Word or Google Docs… but, while these may be fine for casual writers, there are far more suitable options out there for serious writers. With the right tools, you can become more organized, track better, and get into the writer zone with greater ease.
Scrivener is my personal writing software, and it’s also favored by big-name bestselling authors such as Michael Hyatt.
Scrivener is absolutely packed full of features, so expect a slight learning curve if you’re using it for the first time. But once you know how to fully use it, it is incredible what you can do, and how you can organize your writing.
Some of the main reasons I personally favor Scrivener and why I recommend it so strongly include:
1: It is packed with everything you need to write a book, including fully integrated research, and the ability to visually storyboard your work.
2: It is complete with formatting capabilities and options to export into any e-book format.
3: It is customizable with access to a large list of Scrivener templates, allowing you to make Scrivener fit your writing style, genre, or purpose.
4: There is an app version for iOS. This is great for editing on the go.
5: Its excellent value – you can try Scrivener for a full 30 days for free, and then you can save even more money by using a Scrivener discount code to help lower the costs further.
6: Scrivener is always offering new versions and updates.
Scrivener takes some getting used to at first, but I wouldn’t want to write a book using anything else these days.
FYI, if you need a hand getting your book published, let Lorraine help you. She offers author assistant services via Wording Well!
yWriter is a great example of software created by someone who truly needed it.
Frustrated by the options available to him while he was working on his own novels, the creator of yWriter decided to take matters into his own hands and create the software he needed to write his books.
yWriter is only available for PC, but if that’s you, it’s well worth checking out because:
1: The software is totally free to use despite having a lot of premium features.
2: It was created with fiction writers in mind, so yWwriter has the option to store data related to characters, scenes, and objects.
3: It is updated regularly with new features. yWriter is constantly being worked on, with new versions in beta mode at all times.
Overall, Ywriter isn’t as powerful and slick as Scrivener, but considering it’s free, it’s superb, making it a great option for Windows writers.
Ulysses is a premium writing software option for Mac Users.
Unlike Scrivener, Ulysses takes more of a minimalist approach to writing software, at least in terms of the aesthetics. However, it has a lot to keep fans of Scrivener’s complexity happy, such as:
1: The ability to research and write your book or other projects in the same environment.
2: The option to set deadlines and writing targets, which is great for project management.
3: You can easily export your work and get it ready for publication within the Ulysses software environment.
Ulysses is offered via a subscription model, which won’t be the right choice for everyone. However, if you want a powerful but minimalist writing app, Ulysses is well worth checking out.
Essential Writing Tool #2: Editing Software
Let me be clear – no amount of software can replace an editor.
Instead, it can help you catch your most glaring errors, allowing your editor to save their expertise and energy for the more subtle aspects of writing, which will make your work shine.
I’ve personally noticed that when my editor finds extra mistakes throughout either the sample or the book as a whole, the cost of editing goes up, and therefore, the overall cost of making your book goes up.
So, if you’re looking to reduce your mistakes, and even learn a bit about your writing, then there is some incredible software out there to help with not just your books, but all of your online writing as well.
Grammarly was one of the first editing tools I started using. It caught a lot of my errors and saved my editor a lot of stress and annoyance!
Some of the things that impressed me included
1: There is both a desktop app and an online plugin tool available as part of the free version.
2: It is able to catch both obvious and less obvious spelling and grammar mishaps.
3: I found it caught certain punctuation issues better than ProWritingAid.
Grammarly is a great tool for your everyday self-editing needs. I suggest using ProWritingAid for longer projects such as books, but I find Grammarly is good for less intensive uses, such as blog posts.
(For additional tips on self-editing, I suggest you download Lorraine’s 17 Self-Editing Hacks.)
When I first became aware of ProWritingAid, I was impressed by the claims it made. It promises to not only correct your obvious errors but also to analyze your writing deeply so you can become a better author. I’ve found it definitely does what it says.
Some of the reasons I love it include:
1: It gave me over 20 reports, providing a level of insight into my writing style I haven’t found elsewhere. I definitely feel I understand my strengths and weaknesses a lot better after using ProWritingAid.
2: It’s a good online tool that also gives you a plugin option for lighter usage.
3: Its value is very good; the price for lifetime access is a real bargain.
ProWritingAid is a superb editing and writing coach tool. Not every writer will need the level of depth it offers, but if you’re committed to improving your craft, you should definitely check it out.
So, which one is better? You can check out my side-by-side comparison inside my full ProWritingAid review and see which one truly meets your needs.
PIN THIS IMAGE OF THE 4 ESSENTIAL WRITING TOOLS!
Essential Writing Tool #3: Concentration Enhancement
So far, we’ve looked at tools to improve the main aspects of writing – the writing itself, and the editing.
However, I’m a firm believer that your environment and mindset are crucial for writing well. These are some of the best tools I’ve found to help me get in the zone, stay there, and produce my best work at a good rate of output.
Brain.FM draws upon proven science to improve our concentration and focus. It offers a mix of music and sounds which have been scientifically determined to help you remain energized and on task.
I’ve found it very effective in my personal use and have even used it to meditate. I’d recommend it to any writer struggling to stay focused.
If you feel distraction is standing in the way of you being the best writer you can be, it’s time to do something about it. No matter what your specific struggle is, there’s almost certainly an app for that!
Try some of the following apps if you need to take charge of your concentration and write without distraction:
1: Forest – for people who mindlessly reach for their phones
In our fast-paced, technologically-filled age, it’s probably harder than ever to focus. Our smartphones are a never-ending source of distraction, designed to be addictive
Forest offers an innovative and creative take on staying focused if you have problems with always wanting to grab your phone. This app lets you put down your phone and focus on what’s more important in your life. A tree grows while you ignore your phone, but dies if you look at it. This is weirdly effective at helping you stay on task, and this app is available for both iOS and Android phones.
2: The Most Dangerous Writing App – for people who need to JUST WRITE
This is a fun approach to enhancing your productivity. If you stall for too long (5 seconds), your words disappear. You can only get them back if you join their email list!
3: Focus – for Mac users who need to focus
Sometimes, the blunt-force approach to staying on task isn’t the best one. If you need to block out specific sites and apps, Focus is a fully customizable solution, allowing you access to ONLY the things you need. Focus is a Mac app to block distracting websites and applications.
4: Writing Streak – to track your progress
Writing Streak helps you to increase your writing productivity by helping you write more consistently, write more words, and write faster.
It measures all of these for you, too, as it has a calendar, a word counter, and a timer built into it.
You can even set long-term writing goals (such as writing 10,000 words in a month), and it will chart your progress.
Essential Writing Tool #4: Word Count Tools
A tool for counting your words might sound unnecessary at first. After all, most writing software offers a word count.
However, some of the reasons to consider a specialized word counting tool include:
-Showing the reading level of your text, so you can make it more simple or complex as needed
-Telling you if your sentence length is suitable for your genre
-Helping to identify repetition or muddled phrasing
Plus, many authors set a word count per day requirement for themselves and having a tool that says up on your window screen as you write and tracks how far you’ve gotten with your goal can be a game-changer.
(Note that, in the last section, Writing Streak has a built-in word counter that tracks your progress.)
Essential Writer Tools Conclusion
The right writing tools can help you hone your craft, improve your writing, and increase your effectiveness and efficiency. However, not all writing tools fit every author’s need. Some people only use fun writing tools while others use writing tools that keep them motivated to write.
That’s why after reading this article, I hope you have an idea of some of the options that are out there and give them a try.
If you’ve had any experience using any of the above tools or love one that wasn’t mentioned, be sure to let us know in the comments below.
And please share this post on Pinterest!
Dave is the lead writer at Kindlepreneur.com, a website devoted to teaching advanced book-marketing tactics. He is a best-selling author on Amazon (who writes under various pseudonyms), and the founder of KDP Rocket, a software that helps authors choose book ideas that will sell. You can also connect with Dave on Facebook and/or Twitter.