We live in a high-tech world. While you may prefer to sit down in a quiet room and bring your story to life amidst the clacking of a typewriter, the classical approach could cut you off from some fantastic apps and services, all geared toward making your writing experience as productive and rewarding as possible.
A plethora of writing apps exists online – some show you how to improve the readability of your writing, while others keep you focused and help you organize your thoughts. But, naturally, with an ever expanding range, the choice can be overwhelming.
Which writing apps are the best? Are paid writing apps worth the money, or can free ones fill your needs just as well?
Save yourself the time spent sifting through Google results and websites, with this list of what we think are some of the best companion apps for writers.
Let’s get this one out of the way quickly, shall we? Developed from the ground up to satisfy the needs of fiction writers, AutoCrit is a writing app that combines a word processor with a complete editing and analysis suite. A computerized line editor, AutoCrit analyzes your manuscript and visually identifies areas to improve.
Stepping beyond the scope of any other comparable editing suite, AutoCrit is the only place you’ll be able to select the genre of novel you’re working on. Using data from thousands of selected, bestselling novels across almost every genre, AutoCrit allows you to set the context and compare your work to the proven standards of successful writing in formats such as Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense, and Young Adult. This way, you can edit with specific suggestions that match your audience’s needs.
AutoCrit offers three different membership types to suit your individual needs, and there are no contracts so members are free to cancel whenever they want.
Brain.FM is a productivity app that can be accessed through your web browser, and also on Android and iOS. The app describes itself as music for your brain. It promises to promote focus or relaxation using a combination of bimodal tones and music developed with the backing of neuroscience – there are even references to articles in some serious scientific journals like Psychological Review to bolster their claims.
As well as the scientific proof, many thousands of happy customers claim Brain.FM has helped them focus on hours of work without distraction.
Besides the option to help with your focus on work, Brain.FM also has settings for meditation, sleep, napping, and relaxation. We all know what it’s like to have our creative brains firing off from every angle when we’re trying to sleep – so an app like Brain.FM could be the writer’s solution for happiness at and away from the keyboard.
You get five sessions for free – but after that, you need to pay. There are options to pay monthly, once a year, or with a single ‘forever’ payment of $149.99.
FreeMind is a mind-mapping tool used by many creatives to help organize, develop and structure their ideas. This free app is popular – being downloaded about 6,000 times a day!
The developers listen to user feedback, so FreeMind is constantly under development. Writers praise how flexible the app is, praising its range of notation styles and intuitive nature – giving you a powerful way of capturing and organizing ideas for a story.
Even with a complex plot, FreeMind can help you organize a detailed map with hundreds of branches – putting all those pieces into place so you can avoid falling into dreaded plot holes.
When problems or bugs arise, users can expect speedy updates and fixes to arrive sooner rather than later. You will need Java runtime installed to use FreeMind, but Java is also free to download, and most computers already have it installed.
Using a mind-mapping tool may not be entirely for you if you prefer to write from the hip – but FreeMind is a solid, and free, utility for planning in as little or as much detail as you like.
For the ultimate in distraction-free writing, there’s ilys.
Writing is at its most fun when your creative juices are flowing and you’re ‘in the zone, ’ and free-writing has long been a favored creative exercise for storytellers. The folks behind ilys have discovered that this state of mind can be learned – by routinely letting go of our inner editor.
To start, tell ilys how many words you want to write, then start writing. That’s where your control ends. You can’t go back, delete or edit anything until you have completed your word count goal. In fact, you can’t even see the previous words you wrote – the only way is forward.
The philosophy behind ilys is that the creative and editorial parts of the writing process must be kept separate. By keeping your mind focused on creating, ilys promises improvement in the quantity and quality of your written work. In the app, ilys tracks your progress over time so you can see how your word count improves.
After signing up for ilys, there’s a 30-day free trial. Afterwards, a monthly membership is $3.99 or $39.99 for a year.
A useful free writing app for novelists, yWriter separates your story into scenes as you write. It also tracks your progress using time or word number targets.
The app was designed by a writer who understands first-hand the problems that come with writing long stories; scraps of paper and notes all over your desk; characters and locations which needed to be introduced earlier, and so on.
While yWriter will not suggest plot ideas, it will help you keep track of your work while leaving your mind free to create. For example, if you update the ‘readiness’ setting for each scene, a schedule shows what you have to do to meet your deadline for the outline, the first draft, first edit, and second edit.
yWriter allows you to add scenes without content – just a brief description. This is great for the parts you’re not ready to write or for when you get writer’s block. This saves you from having multiple documents with scraps of scenes and ideas that are hard to keep track of.
It costs nothing to download yWriter, and the app has no adverts or unwanted clutter, making it a worthwhile substitute for those who don’t fancy laying down the cash for the powerhouse that is Scrivener.
Few writers today rely solely on the writing tools that come as part of a basic word processing package. Every day there are new and improved writing apps that can help you stay focused and productive, meet targets, and self-edit.
The choice of which apps you use to keep you companion when writing is, ultimately, up to you – so let us know your preferred selection of writing apps in the comments below!