Become a Writer Today

The Best Writing Apps for All Kinds of Writers

October 19, 2020 Bryan Collins
Become a Writer Today
The Best Writing Apps for All Kinds of Writers
Chapters
Become a Writer Today
The Best Writing Apps for All Kinds of Writers
Oct 19, 2020
Bryan Collins

You may already know that there are dozens of different writing apps which you can choose for your writing projects, but which one is the best?

That's a question  I answer in this week's podcast episode where I discuss 10 of the best writing apps that I use, and take a look at the pros and cons of each. 

This should help you find the right one for your freelance writing projects, stories, or book.

In this episode I talk about: 

  • The 10 writing apps that I like to use
  • The pros and cons of each
  • The benefits of using a writing app
  • Which writing app suits which writing project

And much more.

Resources: 

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Show Notes Transcript

You may already know that there are dozens of different writing apps which you can choose for your writing projects, but which one is the best?

That's a question  I answer in this week's podcast episode where I discuss 10 of the best writing apps that I use, and take a look at the pros and cons of each. 

This should help you find the right one for your freelance writing projects, stories, or book.

In this episode I talk about: 

  • The 10 writing apps that I like to use
  • The pros and cons of each
  • The benefits of using a writing app
  • Which writing app suits which writing project

And much more.

Resources: 

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Introduction:
Welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast, with Bryan Collins. Here, you'll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.

Bryan:
You may already know that there were dozens of different writing apps, which you can choose for your writing projects, but which one is the best? Hi there. My name is Bryan Collins, and that's a question I want to answer in this week's podcast episode. Now, I'm a little nerdy about writing apps, and I've tried and tested many of them over the years. Well, this week I want to talk about 10 of the best writing apps that I use, and I'm going to get into the pros and cons of each. To help you find the right one for your freelance writing project or for your stories or for your book, I'll also talk about how these particular apps will help you with whatever you're working on. Now, I typically use these writing apps for books, for writing freelance articles, and for writing blog posts for Become a Writer Today.

Bryan:
So when you're considering a writing app, think about what you're working on, and if they'll help you solve a particular problem in your creative life. Now, with all of that said, let's dive into writing app number one. My first writing app of choice is iA Writer. It's available on Mac, on iOS and more recently, on Windows and it's one of these new minimalists or distraction-free writing apps. Basically when you open iA Writer, it'll take up your whole screen and present you with a blank page and you won't have to do anything but write. In other words, you don't need to worry about how it looks or playing around with the preferences or different tools that you can tinker with, and that can take away from working on your first draft. Now, what are the pros of iA Writer? Well, if you are prone to getting distracted while you're working on your manuscript, it's fantastic because it'll just present you with a flashing cursor and you could get going.

Bryan:
It's also ideal if you want to write for the web, because iA Writer supports Markdown. Markdown is basically a way of using hashtags and the asterix symbol and so on, to write HTML quickly. If you do any type of blogging, I'd encourage you to learn Markdown. It doesn't take that long and use an app like iA Writer, because it'll help you produce articles for platforms like WordPress or Medium a lot quicker. Well, what are the cons of iA Writer? Well, if you're writing something bigger, like let's say a book, it's probably not as good for that because you'll find it a bit difficult to navigate through your manuscript. It's also not ideal if you're self-editing a large manuscript, because you can't really dive into individual parts of your book and also zoom out and see it as a whole.

Bryan:
So I recommend using iA Writer for short form articles and for blog posts, and if you're writing, for the web. My second writing app of choice is Scrivener. Scrivener has been around for a few years now, so you've probably heard of it. It's the writing app that I bought when I was working on a thesis for a course I was taking about eight or nine years ago. Scrivener is great because not only can you write short form chapters within Scrivener, but you can also zoom out and see your entire manuscript. It's particularly good for self-editing. In other words, you can drag and drop sections of your book or whatever it is that you're working on. You can also attach research notes, citations, and other materials that will help you. It's also got some advanced tools for writers, such as setting targets for your projects for individual chapters, tracking your output per day and so on.

Bryan:
You can also use Scrivener to compile your manuscript for self publishing. Now, the pros of Scrivener are that they will save you a lot of time when it comes to self-editing your manuscript, but the cons of Scrivener are, there is a learning curve, and in fact this learning curve can put off some new writers. In fact, there are even courses in how you can master Scrivener and entire books about using Scrivener for your writing workflow. Now that said, I still use Scrivener regularly, and I'm currently using it to work on a new book that I'm writing about parenting. I encourage you to use Scrivener or to take a little bit of time to learn Scrivener if you are working on any long form writing projects like a book or perhaps, a really long feature article for a client. My third writing app of choice is called LivingWriter, and it's a relatively new writing app that I heard about last year. I recently interviewed the people behind this app, Dominic Chase and Casey Kerbs. Basically, LivingWriter is a writing app that lives in your web browser.

Bryan:
You can use it for short writing projects and also for long form writing projects. It's a little bit like Scrivener in that you can drag and drop different parts of your writing projects around. Well, what makes LivingWriter a little bit different is, it also comes with a series of templates which should help save you a lot of time. Particularly, if you're writing fiction. Now at the time of recording this podcast, it's got templates for telling stories. These are the stories circle; the Hero's Journey, the 27 Chapter Method, the Seven-Point Story, and the Three Act Structure. Dominic and Casey told me that they're planning on adding more of these templates to LivingWriter as it goes on. What are the pros of LivingWriter? Well, it's easy to learn. In other words, you can get up and running in minutes. What are the cons? Rather than paying once off, you've got to pay a small monthly subscription.

Bryan:
What should you use LivingWriter for? Well, let's say you're working on a big writing project or you're writing fiction and you don't fancy learning how to use Scrivener. Well then, LivingWriter is a fantastic alternative, and I think the templates will save you a bit of time. My fourth writing app of choice is one you're probably familiar with. No, don't worry, it's not Word. It's Google Docs. Now, I use Google Docs on and off to collaborate with other editors and a writer. How do I use it? Well, if I commission an article for one of my sites, what I'll do is upload the draft to Google Docs and I'll share it with an editor who lives in the United States. Now, I live in Ireland and it's fantastic that we're able to collaborate on changes for the article in question, because she can mark it up on Google Docs and then I can send it to somebody else who can upload it to my site.

Bryan:
I also use Google Docs when I want to write something on the go, and I probably don't have access to an app like iA Writer or Scrivener, because if you're writing it in Google Docs, then it's available everywhere. The pros of Google Docs. Well, it's easy to use, and it's got some handy outlining tools if you format as sections on your headings appropriately. The cons of Google Docs, well, personally I find writing in a web browser can get a little bit distracting because I'm likely to click on Twitter, or Facebook, if I'm procrastinating about a difficult section and whatever I'm working on. What should you use Google Docs for? Well, you could use it for anything, but I'd recommend using it for collaborating with other writers or your editor, or when you want to work with something, but you don't have your writing app of choice to hand.

Bryan:
My fifth writing app of choice is Mac only, unfortunately if you're a Windows user, it's called Day One. I use Day One all the time, and by all the time, I mean every morning to record journal entries. Now, I used to keep a journal in a password protected file on my computer. I find journaling is really helpful for overcoming negative thinking, and also for capturing little anecdotes that I might use in a book or story later on. So, I normally put these in Day One and then I'll review my entries later when I'm working on a draft or a book. Day One is purpose-built for journaling, so you can upload your photographs. It takes care of all the dates and location info and so on, and it works quite well with an iPad and iPhone. You can even link up all of your notes if you want to get really fancy with it.

Bryan:
I also like Day One because it syncs all of my journal entries securely across all of my devices. So, I don't have to worry about losing the journal that I've spent a couple of years writing. What are the pros of Day One? Well, it looks great and it's really easy to use. What are the cons of Day One? Well, of course, it's Mac only. So, if you want a dedicated journaling app for Windows, you're out of luck. What should you use Day One for? For journaling, of course. If you keep any type of journal about your creative life, about your creative work, about your business, or even just for yourself, and keeping a journal is cheaper than therapy then Day One is the app I'd recommend you use.

Bryan:
They've even recently added some neat little features like daily journaling prompts and also On This Day, so you can see what you wrote about last year or last month, or even a couple of years ago, and also get a little bit inspired when you're not sure about what to put into your journal. My next writing app of choice is something that would help you write that first draft faster, it's speech-to-text software. Now I've written a lot about speech-to-text software on the Become a Writer Today podcast. Generally, if you're looking for the best speech-to-text or dictation software, recommend using Dragon Dictate by Nuance. There are various versions of this tool, both the professional edition or personal edition for Windows, or Mac is probably what you need, and they do have a mobile version that you can use as well. That's said, lately I've been gravitating more towards using Rev. Rev is basically a human transcription service.

Bryan:
What I'll do is outline the first draft of my manuscript in a writing app, and then I'll dictate that first draft into my phone using Rev, and I'll send it to a transcriptionist and that costs $1.25 per minute. I find that's a lot faster way to write something or at least get the first draft out of my head. Now, if $1.25 is a bit beyond your budget, use our automated transcription service which costs approximately $1.25 per minute at the time of recording this episode, but it's not quite as accurate as a human transcriptionist or alternatively, you can of course use Dragon. But basically the pros of using speech-to-text software or a transcription service are that it's fast. It's fast, and it will help you get ideas out of your head and onto the page because you can't write anything or you can't edit anything, if you don't have material to work with.

Bryan:
The cons are you'll need to change your writing workflow, particularly how you approach outlining and first drafts. It took me at least a year to make this transition. Thing to know about the benefits of speech-to-text software or using a transcription service but it's quite another thing to adapt to it. What should you use speech-to-text software or a dictation service for? Well, if you want to write something quickly or if you want to get a difficult first draft out of your head. You can also use it for interviews, if you're interviewing subjects for your non-fiction and that's something I've done as well when writing for publications like Forbes. My seventh writing app of choice is Evernote. I've used Evernote quite a lot in the past to prepare for interviews, for articles that I was writing and also to capture materials like PDFs and notes from meetings and so on.

Bryan:
I don't write directly in Evernote, but I find it's a good place to put supplementary research, and also just to capture things or materials you get from others are people. Now, the pros of Evernote are, it's kind of like your digital brain or your digital elephant, and it syncs across all of your devices and it's relatively affordable. The cons of Evernote are, sometimes it can feel a little bit clunky and you need to figure out a system for categorizing all of your notes and ideas. That actually brings me to a couple of alternatives to Evernote because that's the question people often have. Bear is one popular alternative to Evernote, and it's a bit more lightweight and it feels a little bit faster than Evernote. Another popular alternative that I've been investigating, but I haven't quite figured out how to use it as part of my writing workflow yet, is Roam Research. Roam Research is a really new web app that acts as a note taking tool that automatically networks or connects all of your different ideas for whatever you're working on.

Bryan:
Now, that sounds a little bit complicated, that's because it looks like there is a small learning curve to Roam and something I'm planning on investigating over the next few months to see how I can use it for writing nonfiction, and for perhaps keeping as that'll cost them, which is something I've also talked about recently on the Become a Writer Today podcast. My eighth writing up of choice is Grammarly. I use Grammarly almost every day, and I recommend it often to readers who need a little bit of help with self-editing or who want to proofread their manuscript, or perhaps don't have a huge budget to work with. Now, Grammarly works on your phone. It can work in Google Docs. It can work in a web app, but I use it by downloading the desktop app to my computer and I write away in a writing application of choice.

Bryan:
I'll paste it into Grammarly, go through all of it's suggested changes, and then put the edited version back into my writing app of choice. That's probably a slightly slower way to do it, but I find that alternating between two different writing apps helps me find and fix errors in a way that keeping it in one writing app without changing the font, or line spacing, can't. Now I like Grammarly because it's more accurate than Word, and it also gives me some insights on how I can improve my writing and help with self-editing. It'll identify repeated words and it can even check documents for tone of voice, and in fact, many editors I work with also use Grammarly. The pros of Grammarly are the free version is relatively powerful and it works everywhere. The cons of Grammarly, well, there is a fee to approximately $29 a month, if you want to use the premium version. That might put you off, if you're a relatively new to writing. What should you use it for? Well, for self-editing and proofreading your work.

Bryan:
My ninth writing app of choice is a good alternative to Grammarly. It's called ProWritingAid. ProWritingAid is another grammar checker or proofreader and I like it because it's particularly good for fiction. It's also particularly good if you use Scrivener because it connects directly to your Scrivener file. That's how I use it when I want to check something in a Scrivener project that I'm working on. Now, the pros of ProWritingAid are that it's got lots of nice little features like a plagiarism checker, which is handy if you want to check if you overly cited or overly used a source without properly citing them in your materials. The cons of ProWritingAid are that like Grammarly, you really need to get their premium version, if you want to get the most from us. If you'd like a discount for a Grammarly or ProWritingAid, I'll put some links in the show notes for where you can get that discount.

Bryan:
My final writing app of choice, well, it's the one that you have with you at the time. To explain, let me tell you about Roald Dahl, one of my favorite children's book authors. He was working on a particularly challenging and difficult manuscript, and he was in traffic one day, and he suddenly thought of a breakthrough for the manuscript that he was working on. He looks around his car and he didn't have anywhere to write down the breakthrough. So, he got out of his car in traffic, which isn't something I recommend, and he wrote down a single word into the dirt on his car. That single word was enough for him to overcome the breakthrough for his story which ultimately became Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Otherwise, you don't need any fancy tools or software to write something great. If you're feeling creative, just get to work because ultimately looking for the best writing app can become a form of procrastination.

Bryan:
Yes, the different writing apps in this podcast episode will help you fix problems in your writing project, or perhaps produce something a little bit quicker or efficiently, but ultimately at the end of the day, your job as a writer is to turn up in front of the blank page and do the work, however you can. I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode. If you did, please leave a review for the Become a Writer Today's show on the iTunes store or wherever you're listening to it because more reviews and more ratings will help more people find the Become a Writer Today podcast.

Bryan:
I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode. If you did, please leave a rating on the iTunes store. If you want to accomplish more with your writing, please visit becomeawritertoday.com / join, and I'll send you a free email course. Thanks for listening.