Writing Tools for the Professional Writer
Author’s Note: This is a copy of my latest post on Medium. I hope you find it useful.
In real life, I’m not a fussy man. Sure, I like what I like — who doesn’t? — but my tastes are simple. This is not the case in my literary life.
Let’s get the main issue out of the way: I hate Microsoft Word! I use it when I have to and no more. A modern writer does not need every tool in the book only a keypad and screen to see which keys they’ve tapped. A proliferation of ‘tat’ as my Grandad used to say, or, stuff for stuff’s sake, serves only one purpose and that is to delay the art of actual creation.
‘Okay!’ you shout. ‘What should I use?’
I would never tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t write with as it is so individual a choice, but I can share what I use and hope it helps you.
You will have heard of many of these and I apologise in advance that most are for the Mac or iOS as they are my working platforms.
This is a simple choice for an un-simple — can I say that? — application: Scrivener.
Scrivener is a do-all tool that can and do as little or as much as you wish it to. I use Scrivener for all long-form writing. I won’t go into details because it will bore you, but the main reasons I love it, are as follows.
- Scrivener handles all aspects of compiling your manuscript so you don’t have to worry about it.
- Scrivener is adjustable. I like to feel comfortable when I write. I like information available, index cards etcetera, but out of the way. I like a fullscreen mode, focus mode, dark backgrounds and the list goes on. I doubt there’s anything a writer could think of that Scrivener does not do.
- Most of all, it’s reliable and multi-platform. Plus, now that there’s an iOS and companion, although I found the sync hard to set up, the whole ensemble is complete.
Note: I would like to add that I found diving straight into Scrivener and playing around, much easier than watching the screencast, (it boggled my weak mind). Others may laugh at this, but better to be truthful.
Prowritingaid. I finish all my compositions by putting them through Prowritingaid.com. You can paste up to 3000 words into it and have the site evaluate all possible mistakes. Take the results with a pinch of salt and learn from them. This is superb and I cannot recommend it enough. I have the full unlimited version but the free one will suffice most people.
Grammarly. When I have put my work through the above site, I then do so again through Grammarly. I find Grammarly better at picking up punctuation issues than Prowritingaid but the latter better at passive voice and adverb advice. Again, Grammarly has paid and free plans so there’s no excuse for not being able to use it.
Ah, here we go. As I said at the start, I am a fussy, fussy writer. I like to write on certain coloured backgrounds particularly on small devices. The same goes for fonts and general presentation. The following accommodate my foibles.
- Ulysses: Available on Mac and iOS. Ulysses is the closest simple writing app to Scrivener. It uses Markdown, which I love and am using now, but allows for customisation and general simplicity of views.
- Byword: As above but much simpler. You don’t have the choice of customisation with Byword as some apps; you don’t need to. The company’s choice of tools is perfect for plain, non-complicated writing in any genre or style.
- iA Writer: As above but arguably even simpler as you get less choice with fonts. Another beautiful Markdown writer that makes the job of typing out a story a true pleasure. (This actual post is written and posted using iA Writer).
Author’s Note: All three of the writers above have free services to publish direct to various blogging platforms, (VERY USEFUL).
NB: I would like to give an honourable mention to the new Bear app (Mac and iOS). For general notes and a bit of all the above, the Bear application is stunningly beautiful. A true pleasure to use.
I would also like to mention Pixabay.com for sourcing great free images. They, too, also have an iOS app.
You! There are no tools to replace a writer’s imagination. Let your thoughts flow and fingers type. Always write the way you want, about what you want, and others will see your heart and talent shine through. Everyone has talent. Never take no for an answer when it comes to writing. Keep going. Make it a habit. Enjoy it.
I hope you enjoyed this post and can make use of some or all of my recommendations. If nothing else, try the grammar checkers.
Thank you for reading
Richard M. Ankers
Author of The Eternals Series
Shhh, don’t tell! The conclusion to the series, Into Eternity, available very soon.
Ooh, very exciting!