Technology can often be seen as an interruption to the creative process. Shy of the keyboard needed to type your next masterpiece, many think tech devices and apps will just get in the way. That doesn’t have to be the case though. These apps for writers will make your job easier and also keep you on task so that your writing can flourish.
Apps for Distracted Writers
Perhaps the most difficult part of writing is sitting down and actually doing the work. We all know how hard it is to get our butts in that chair to begin with, but when we actually commit to writing and then get distracted by emails, social media, phone calls, text messages, etc. that is perhaps even more irritating.
These apps will save you from yourself (and technology) by putting up some road blocks for typical writing distractions.
Cold Turkey (Windows) and SelfControl (Mac) are two free options for quietting the noise of your technology life. Block apps and the internet easily so that when you sit down to write, writing is what you actually do.
We’ve all been there. You carve out a precious hour from your busy day to write and before you know it, you’re 30 minutes into that time and all you’ve done is skim Facebook and reply to a couple of emails. Do yourself a favor and do away with the distractions alltogether. It’s only an hour, the rest of the world can wait, your art cannot.
Do you have trouble staying in your writing document? Browsers in the background, apps, email and photo albums can easily pull you out of your writing and into a distracting, time-sucking activity. Sometimes, all you need to avoid the temptation of your desktop’s background is an “out of sight, out of mind approach.”
With Distraction Dimmer, you can blur out everything except your document so you don’t detour from your writing.
FocusMe – Starting at $47
If you are completely overburdened with distractions and need some help with discipline, FocusMe has a suite of products to help you. Whether you’re on a PC or a Mac, FocusMe can block apps, help you schedule your time, remind you to take breaks and more.
Perhaps one of the coolest parts about FocusMe is the abillity for writers to customize their experience. Sometimes blocking the entire Internet just isn’t realistic or altogether helpful. Maybe you want to be able to post to your Facebook author page, but you don’t necessarily want access to your personal Facebook feed. FocusMe allows you to pick and choose how you use your desktop to turn it into a positievely productive paradise.
Certainly one of the more expensive downloads, but a worthwhile one if you are in serious need of some anti-distraction, efficiency-boosting power.
Do Not Disturb – Free
While this isn’t an app per se, all writers need to be aware of a particular feature on their phones. For both iPhone and Android users, you have the ability to stop notifications and incoming call distractions.
On a desktop, you can minimize windows and close browsers, but I know for me personally, the thing that will stop my writing dead in its tracks isn’t on my computer. It’s my phone. A text from my mom, an email from my kid’s teacher, a call from a co-worker, a Facebook comment, all of which are making my phone buzz and beep up a storm.
Everyday Apps Tweaked for Writers
Now not every part of your day can be all about writing all the time, but there are always ways to infuse more of it into your day. By making your current apps more writing-friendly you can find inspiration and motivation in your common daily tech routine.
Are you using Facebook to be a better writer? Whether you have your own author page or are just a casual user, more writing can be brought to the world’s largest social media platform.
If you have a business page you are trying to build, make a pact with yourself to only allow Facebook browsing after you’ve posted to your page for the day.
If you aren’t trying to build a presence on the platform, you can still use it to build your writing career.
Make sure you are following fellow writers you admire, publishers you love and industry experts you envy so that while scrolling through baby photos and political posts, you have a better chance of stumbling upon some cool writing articles. It will make “time wasted” feel a little more productive.
There are great apps for organizing your thoughts, tracking ideas and mapping out characters, which we’ll get to a little later. For me though, the free, standard Notes app has always been the first place I jot down thoughts in my day-to-day life.
You don’t always need a flashy app with all the bells and whistles. Often you can just get by writing down a blog article idea or a plot twist into your notes and then fleshing out the details in a more organized way later. If like me you think about writing at stoplights, in the shower and in the student pick up line, you need a place to throw your thoughts and go about your day.
When there is barely enough time to write, there is even less time to improve your craft. If you’re filling all your spare time with writing you’re leaving no room for improving. And if all you’re doing is learning about writing, odds are you aren’t practicing the skill.
So make use of the time when you can’t do much else other than listen.
There are amazing podcasts that cover every aspect of writing. If you have a long commute or even just errands to run, like grocery shopping, double up on your productivity by listening to words of encouragement and advice on your profession via podcasts.
Yes that’s right. Your go to Sunday morning guilty pleasure app can also be a wealth of information when it comes to your writing.
Those who typically use Pinterest for crafting ideas, party planning and recipes usually don’t realize just how much amazing content is on Pinterest. For me personally, it has become a search app that outweighs Google as far as finding great content from incredibly talented bloggers goes.
If I Google “writing a book” the result I get from the world's largest search platform is:
Frankly, all of those options kind of make me snarl. On Pinterest, however, if I type “writing a book” into the search bar, I get this plethora of amazing content options from all kinds of different sources that are far more interesting to me than Google’s results.
From tips on how to write a book series, to an infographic on creating a book title, to a cute bookish tank top and tips on how to get published, my options are way more varied on Pinterest and far more engaging. Next time you want to do some reading about writing, skip Google and give Pinterest a shot.
Let’s face it, nine times out of ten, email is a hindrance to your writing. It distracts you from your craft, it beckons you away from your art, and it eats your creativity (no one wants prose in an office memo).
Instead of making your inbox a place where your creative energy goes to die, turn it into an opportunity for your writing career to flourish. Go sign up for five to ten really great newsletters. Whether it’s an author you admire, a publicist you might hire or a Goodreads letter with book recommendations from the genre you write in, there’s no wrong list to sign up for. Just give yourself the treat of an inspiring email to help break up the monotony of your messages.
Apps for Improving Your Writing
If only we stored all the world’s knowledge in our brains so that the words would easily glide onto the pages like magic. In a perfect world, we’d have a perfect stream of conscious flowing from our brains through our fingertips and onto the page. In real life we get stuck. We can’t think of a word. We hate a character’s name. We need practice. WE need prompting. Good news… there’s an app for that. And then some.
Two things you should probably have if you’re a writer: a dictionary and thesaurus. Luckily the Dictionary.com app offers both of these things in one place. When your “define” and “synonym” button in Word run dry, trust in your handy dandy Dictionary.com app with over 2 million definitions and synonyms.
We all need a little nudge every now and then. If you sit down and the blank page is mocking you or you’ve had a real bad case of writer’s block, get the juices flowing with some good ol’ fashion writing prompts.
Writing.com offers a bundle of prompt apps that you can use to stoke the fires of your own creativity. There is a single app meant just to inspire your writing using current events, random words, scenes and more. The bundle package, which is $4.99, helps with characters and other forms of art. Don’t be afraid to get a little help when you need it.
Characterize – Free
Something that can really bog down a fiction writer is the need to come up with a character on the fly. Perhaps your main character just entered a grocery store and is going to have an exchange with an old friend from high school. Maybe you have the purpose for the scene in mind, but you are struggling to fully form this one-off character. Characterize is a free iOS app that gives you random names and descriptions of a character. Instead of piecing out this person in your mind and slowing down your process, spin the generator gear a few times until you land on a “person” who appeals to you.
If you have a specific need like a particular ethnicity or genre, you can upgrade the app to include everything from Korean characters to fairies.
Grammarly – Free
Do you ever get the feeling that Microsoft Word’s grammar correction is a little… lacking? Sure it can catch some obvious misses, but it lacks some sophistication.
Grammarly picks up where Word leaves off. Free as an app, Microsoft add on or browser plugin, this amazing writing tool can really help with those mind boggling grammar moments. If you find you are slowing down while writing due to editing and uncertainty, let this great grammar app help keep you moving.
Prose. – Free
Have you ever said to yourself “I wish there was a Facebook for writers”? Well there kind of is. Prose is a place where writers go to publish their words free and uncensored. You can browse posts, comment, critique and contribute.
If you’re looking for a creative outlet that operates with the love of literature in mind, download the Prose app and hop in.
OneLook Reverse Dictionary – Free
This may be my favorite tool of all for writers. Sometimes writer’s block emerges from the inability to name someone or describe something. We’ve all experienced that moment where you know what you want to say, but can’t quite find the right word to say.
Well, hold on to your hat because OneLook has the answer. If you’ve ever turned to a friend and said “what’s a word for…” then this tool is for you.
Simply type a word, phrase or idea and just watch what comes out. Not only will it help you find the right word or phrase, it will likely also teach you some new words.
Apps for Writing a Book
Story Planner – $3.99
If outlining is essential to your book writing process, make sure you have a simple and sleek app you’re using to track all the minute details of your story. Keep tabs on your characters, scenes, story lines and all the elements in between.
Scrivener – $19.99
Odds are this is not the first you’re hearing of Scrivener. It has been a much-discussed app for writers for quite some time, but it seems remiss to leave it out. If you are looking for an app that unites all the components of your research, drafts and notes and also works seamlessly on multiple devices, this is a tried and true, tested and reviewed produce with a pretty fair price.
Not everyone has fallen in love or felt the need for a new word processor, but those who use it typically swear by it. If you are frequently operating between your desktop/laptop and phone, this is a great app to have in your toolbox. If you are casually writing from one device and the research elements are minimal (as it may be for some genres of fiction) then Scrivener may not pack as much punch. Either way, it’s worth looking into one of the most talked about apps for writers.
Dominos Pizza/Spotify/Netflix App – Free
Remember that being a writer isn’t a thing that happens over night. You can’t be everything to everyone and be a writer too. Sometimes you have to order the pizza, let the cleaning slide and put a movie on for the kids. There’s no such thing as a perfect writer (or mom, or employee, or wife), but you will only make progress if you give yourself the time to write. Use whatever apps you need to make progress today, even if it’s one that orders takeout.