There are a lot of online tools and apps for writers designed to boost productivity and organise research, stimulate creativity and destroy writers’ block. Here are some of the best.
Scrivener (Windows and Mac)
Surely no surprise to find this at the top of the list, Scrivenor (from £25) is a must-have for many writers. A word processor and project management tool, it offers a pain-free platform to collect research, take notes and structure ideas. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, Scrivenor’s main focus is helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft. Ideal for writing a novel, research paper, script or any long-form text involves more than hammering away at the keys until you’re done.
Index Card (iPad)
As Scrivenor isn’t available on iPad, Index Card is probably the next best thing. This corkboard writing app that makes it easy to capture, organise, and compile your ideas. You can switch them around as you like using simple drag-and-drop.
For writers who get easily distracted, ZenWriter (£6.20) is a word processor which minimises distractions (like checking Facebook) by encompassing the entire width and height of your screen. Therapeutic music and landscape images show in the background (which explains the programme’s 60+ MB size) and formatting, headings and tables are stripped away so that it’s just you and your words.
Scapple (Windows and Mac)
Another winner from Scrivenor creators Literature and Latter, Scapple (£9.35) is good for anyone who tends to scribble their brilliant ideas all over a piece of paper with lines connecting related thoughts – then lose the paper. It isn’t exactly mind-mapping software, it’s more like a freeform text editor that allows you to make notes anywhere on the page and to connect them using straight dotted lines or arrows. Available for PC and Mac.
Evernote (Windows, Mac, mobile and tablet)
A great free tool for drafting and research, Evernote is perfect for storing and searching research notes, photos, scans, web pages, audio recordings and more. Although it works less well as a word processor, it does have the added bonus of being available on a range of devices so you can sync content and access on your phone or tablet it wherever you are.
For times when only pen and paper will do, Penultimate is a free app which combines handwriting with the flexibility and syncing of Evernote. It’s a good idea to try a number of different styluses – there are huge differences in how smoothly they slide across the screen. Personally I like the Griffin stylus.
Sign up via email and every day Plinky will provide a new prompt (like a question, or a challenge) to stimulate your writing. Great for “warm up” exercises and those days when you want to write, but have no idea what to say.
Dubbed an “imagination stimulator”, this quick-fire app (£1.99) uses dynamic word randomisation to supply fresh (and often unusual) concepts to any story – at the touch of a button. The final cure for writer’s block, or just a bit of fun? Try it and see.
Writing Prompts (iPhone, Android and Kindle Fire)
Character Prompts (£1.90) offers 19 different profile characteristics filled with randomly generated information, providing character twists and 150 thought provoking questions for your character. There’s also Writing Prompts (from £1.20), which uses sketches, words, colours, genres and different types of writing to create random bits of creative inspiration.
Like your personal grammar coach, Grammarly claims to be able to help you find and correct up to ten times more mistakes than a regular word processor. It costs from $29.95 (£18.70) a month, but you can try it out with a seven-day free trail.