Tag Archives: content writing tools

Some free writing tools that can be helpful

I don’t use any writing tools. On-and-off I may have tried using some, but I always find them constraining rather than helpful. Nonetheless, they can be quite helpful to many writers who are learning the ropes.

This Fast Company blog post has reviewed some free writing tools that can help you improve your writing and take care of all those nasty mistakes that creep in while you are having a go at your creativity.

Although I don’t use writing tools, I keep an eye on the latest tools and the tools that have been evolving over the years.

Take for example Grammarly. Many years ago, when they were just launching, they gave me a free account to use and then write a review. I used it for a couple of days and then found it too interfering.

Tools like Grammarly are great for people who are still struggling with grammar and spelling and a bit of sentence formation. I’m way past those hurdles and all those peculiarities highlighted by Grammarly are just a part of my writing style.

I even purchased the Hemingway Editor – the test version – a few years ago hoping that it would help me write shorter sentences. Again, as a writer, I found it too interfering. Though, I must admit that help in turning long sentences into 2-3 shorter sentences is definitely wanted.

But then, if you’re using “than” instead of “then” and if you have gotten into the habit of using lots of passive voice (I do it sometimes) such tools are certainly helpful.

Don’t I use the editing features in MS Word and Google Docs? I definitely do. In fact, that might be the reason why I don’t use the third-party tools because the editing features in MS Word and Google Docs are enough for me.

Anyway, the tools featured in the Fast Company blog post are

Upon visiting the links, you will notice that not all are conventional writing apps. For example, LibreOffice is an open-source Office Suite just like Microsoft 365 or Google Docs. Hence, just like any Office Suite, it has a word processor, and the word processor has all the writing tools.

Similarly, Reedsy is a writing community of writers and editors. It also has a book writing tool.

“The most dangerous writing app” gives you prompts to inspire you.

Not everyone will find these writing tools obstructive. They definitely have their use.

Turn into a Great Content Writer With These 12 Productivity Apps

apps-to-become-a-great-content-writer

Whether you’re writing content for yourself or for your clients, it is always a race against time. There never seems to be enough content. To make a difference, you need to be a prolific content writer. If you want to cover more platforms like your own blog, Medium and LinkedIn, you must write more. If you want to improve your search engine rankings you need to cover all your topics. When you need to cover all your topics, obviously, you must write a lot.

The good thing is, these days technology is always there to help you. Writing content doesn’t always mean having to sit in front of your computer or laptop (yes, people still use these). Connectivity is no longer a problem these days. If you store all your files in the cloud you can access from any device. Better, if you use a cloud-based word processor like Google Docs, you don’t even have to worry about storing and syncing your files. Provided you can run Google Docs, you can access your documents anywhere.

Not just Google Docs, if you publish your content using WordPress then the blogging platform has an app that you can install on your mobile phone. The same goes for Medium.

This means, no matter where you are, you can write. Whether you are a writer or a content writer, your writing tools these days are always with you.

There are many productivity apps that can help you become a great content writer. As a content writer, being productive means being able to write whenever you feel like it, whenever you get an idea. It also means being able to manage your content and being able to publish it on the go.

Listed below are the 12 productivity/writing apps that can help you turn into a great content writer. I use most of these apps. At one time or another, I have used all these apps. I keep jumping from one app to another depending on what I want to achieve and what level of writing work I’m handling.

Microsoft Word mobile app

Microsoft-Word-logoThroughout all these years I have been a consistent user of Microsoft Word. I like the word processor. It gives me all the features that I need. On the PC, it even has a “blog” template that allows me to write drafts and then directly post them to WordPress. Since I also make other changes that can only be made to WordPress, I publish the post in draft mode.

For years it was impossible to use the Microsoft Word mobile app because the interface would act the way it works  on a PC or a large tablet. You couldn’t see the contents of the document on a mobile phone because they would become tiny.

Recently, around 6-7 months ago, they have introduced an alternative mobile layout. This allows you to work on your document just like any other text editor on your mobile phone. This is a great improvement.

OneDrive as my Cloud Drive

onedrive-logoI can seamlessly use Microsoft Word on my mobile phone because I store all my documents in OneDrive. The documents are immediately synced, wherever I have installed OneDrive and Microsoft Word. So, suppose I’m working on my PC, on a document. Then I need to move away. I’m sitting somewhere and only my mobile phone is there. When I want to, I take it out, launch the Microsoft Word app and my document is there. It syncs in real-time. You can feel that OneDrive for Microsoft must had been an afterthought: it is not as good as Dropbox and Google Drive in terms of interface and usability. But it works for me.

Google Docs for collaborative writing and word processing

Google DocsI was using Google Docs heavily before Microsoft Word became friendlier on my mobile phone. If you are using Google Docs and if you don’t have Microsoft Word, and if you are doing just word processing, you don’t miss Word much.

Google Docs is one of the best word processors for mobile phone. It immediately syncs all your documents; you can work from anywhere. It is not a very heavy app. You can tap on it and start writing without even naming your document.

Xmind as a mind mapping tool

xmind-logoI use Xmind not just to work on complicated marketing and management plans but also to organize my thoughts when working on longer blog posts.

Xmind is not my particular choice for the mind mapping tool because there are many such tools available. You can install a mind mapping tool on your desktop. You can use a mobile app. You can also use it within your browser.

If you haven’t used mind mapping for writing, try it out. You will be surprised to find how simply you can organize complex ideas.

Jotterpad text editor for Android

jotterpad-logoA lot of times I work on text files. Text files are lighter and there are less distractions. There is a great selection of text editors for PC. Jotterpad is an excellent text editor for your mobile phone. It has different settings and layouts. It even allows you to use your own font settings. Being a text editor, you can launch it in a jiffy and start writing. It’s pure writing.

Dropbox cloud drive

Dropbox is one of the oldest cloud drive and file syncing apps and services. It is one of the first cloud storage services I started using. These days I don’t use it as my main cloud storage device because I use OneDrive that comes free with my Office365 subscription.

I was their Premium user. Then I stopped using their premium services once I started using OneDrive.  When I started using Jotterpad, I needed to install Dropbox because it uses Dropbox to sync files.

If you don’t have access to OneDrive then I can say that Dropbox is the best file syncing service you can find. It is much more efficient. It is quite sleek. Its interface is not as rickety as OneDrive’s. Microsoft Word works with Dropbox too.

WriteMonkey as desktop editor

writemonkey-logoIf I’m using Jotterpad on my mobile phone, I need to have a nice desktop version of a text editor. 90% of the time I do my content writing on my PC. For the PC, so far, the best text editor that I have used is WriteMonkey. It has the best features of all “distraction free” writing apps you may have tried, especially among text editors. It covers your entire desktop when you are writing. It lets you customize your layout. You can have your own fonts and custom font colors. It even plays a typing sound!

Google Keep as a notetaking app

google-keep-logoGoogle Keep is the lightest notetaking app these days. Whenever you think of notetaking you think of Evernote, but Evernote can be very heavy. Besides, on your PC or laptop you don’t even have to Google Keep. You can use it in your browser window.

But, for Android and iOS there are very light Google Keep apps that you can easily install.

In Google Keep you don’t even need to name your notes. Create a new note and make a note of whatever you feel like. It is going to be there when you are writing.

You can also tag your notes so that you can find them when you need them.

Trello as a content publishing organizer

trello-logoTo be frank, I started using Trello recently, reluctantly. But once you start using it, it is quite a useful app for organizing your content writing schedule.

I’m not still sure how you would use Trello for your specific need, but this is how I use it:

  • Create a new list called Blog Titles.
  • Whenever you want to add something to the list, you “Add a card”.
  • Keep adding blogging ideas to the above list – there is also a provision to add descriptions and URLs (research data).
  • Create a new list called Blog Titles – In Process.
  • When I start writing a blog post I drag the card and drop it in the Blog Titles – In Process list. If I’m working on multiple blogging ideas, I can track on which blog posts I am working.
  • Create a new list called Blog Titles – Published.
  • When I publish a blog post (including publishing and broadcasting) I move the card to the Blog Titles – Published list.

I have created these Trello three-list combinations for various projects to track ideation, actual work in progress, and then completed work.

OneNote as a great information organizer

onenote logoAgain, I started using OneNote because it comes free with my Office 365 subscription. Before that I was using Evernote Premium. OneNote is bulkier and bit rickety compared to Evernote but Microsoft is constantly improving it.  I have seen improvements within days.

Compared to Evernote it is much more flexible and there are great ways of organizing information. There is a browser add-on that lets you clip important bits of information right from your browser.

Hemingway Editor to help you avoid writing complicated sentences

hemingway-editor-logoI have just started using Hemingway Editor. Since I’m used to writing in Microsoft Word, I feel a bit awkward. It’s also annoying when suddenly you sentence turns yellow or red. But, the more I use it, the more I realize its usefulness.

It is helping me keep my sentences shorter and simpler. This way, a single sentence can contain a single idea. I have this habit of creating long sentences.  I tend to capture multiple ideas with single sentences that unnecessarily complicates them. Unlike Grammarly, Hemingway Editor doesn’t do much proofreading. So far, I have observed it doesn’t bother with spelling or grammar mistakes.

Its primary focus is on tracking how many adverbs and adjectives you are using. It tells you whether you are using passive voice or active voice. It keeps track of sentences that are hard to read.

The only problem as of now is, it doesn’t seem to have a mobile version.

Noisli to drown the noises around you

noisli-logoAs a writer the biggest problem you may face, are the distractions around you. The sounds. You can hear the sounds around you. Some construction is going on. Kids are playing on the street. People are chatting with each other. TV is playing in the drawing room. Your neighbor has just formed a rock band.

Noisli helps you keep all these distracting sounds away so that you can concentrate on your writing. It creates white noise. It can also play soothing music. You will need a headphone or earplugs to use it. You can either install an app on your mobile phone or you can use it within your browser.

All these apps and services that I have listed above may not all be necessary for turning you into a great content writer. But, in their own ways, they help you write better.

After years of content writing for myself and my clients, what I have realized is, writing needs to be continuous. If you can’t write, your writing groove dissolves. There is no on-off switch. The legendary Indian writer Munshi Premchand was known to have this on-off switch. After his 9-to-5 job he could come home and start writing. If someone came to meet him, he would entertain the guest, and then get back to his writing. He lived in a crowded neighbourhood. He had many kids. He took care of his domestic responsibilities unlike many other writers. Despite that, he has written timeless classics.

But most of us don’t have that on-off switch. So, when the switch is on, we would like to draw greatest mileage. When an idea strikes, we want to be able to write it down immediately. When you want to access that particular bit of information, you should be able to access it no matter where we are. When we want to write, we should be able to write, whether we are sitting in front of the PC or we are fiddling with our smartphone. Technology, with all its distractions, fortunately, allows us to do that.

10 productivity tools that I use for content writing

10-content-writing-productivity-toolsEvery serious content writer has some productivity tools that he or she uses to enhance his or her, of course, productivity. I do have my favourite content writing tools. In fact, they are not just content writing tools, they are tools that you can use for various activities, but I use them to organize my thoughts, to research information that I gather and to make sure my writing does not contain errors and mistakes.

I keep on experimenting with various content writing productivity tools. So, when I mention these 10 productivity tools that I use for content writing, it doesn’t mean I always use these tools. These tools keep on changing. They keep on appearing and disappearing from my day-to-day activities.

Here are my 10 content writing productivity tools

1) MS Word for writing webpages, blog posts and articles

I don’t use MS Word simply because it’s a word processor because if one wants to use a word processor, there are many available, even free. I use MS Word for content writing because it allows me to work on blog posts and webpages in a blog editor. Yes, there is the template that allows me to write blog posts in MS Word and then publish them (straight away or in draft mode) from MS Word itself.

You have to set up the blog within MS Word and once you have done that you can directly publish to your WordPress blog (most contemporary platforms are available). You can set up multiple blogs.

But that’s just one reason.

The biggest reason why I use MS Word, especially the blog template, is because I can horizontally increase and decrease the size of the window and the text wraps accordingly, just like in a text editor.

flexible window of MS Word

As you can see in the image above, the text has easily wrapped according to the width of the window.

The problem with the main MS Word template is that you cannot shrink the size of the window horizontally. But when you are working within the blog template, you can resize your window just like you can do in a normal text editor.

Talking of text editor…

2) WriteMonkey as my content writing productivity tool

WriteMonkey is a very nifty text editor. It is especially for distraction free writing. Once installed you can customize its layout according to your preference. You can either work in full-screen (the text editor takes up the entire screen) or if you press the escape key on your keyboard, you can resize the editor according to your preference. It also has a typing sound. You can have your own color scheme, your own fonts, your own font sizes and basically everything can be customized according to your preference.

Previously I have also talked about the Q10 text editor but it hasn’t been updated for years.

3) JotterPad as my content writing productivity tool

JotterPad is a mobile app for writing. In itself it is a great app. You can combine it with your Dropbox account and suddenly you can work on your PC, laptop and mobile device whenever you feel like. I use a combo of JottorPad (on mobile), WriteMonkey (on PC) and Dropbox (on PC and mobile).

These days sometimes I write complete blog posts in JotterPad and they are immediately synced with my PC. JotterPad as one of the best writing apps I have ever used. It has different formats for you to work in; for example, you can work in a newspaper format, a screenplay format and even in normal format. You can also create your custom format.

4) Google Docs as my content writing productivity tool

I’m not a big fan of Google Docs but I often use the service when I’m collaborating with my clients because many clients prefer Google Docs due to its collaboration feature. Another good thing about Google Docs is that even the mobile interface is quite good. Whether you’re working on your PC or your mobile phone, the Google Docs template seamlessly resizes easily. And the content is synced in real-time.

5) OneNote for storing useful information

OneNote I think is quite underrated, especially compared to Evernote. I have never had a problem with Evernote (aside from the fact that the notes cannot be arranged manually) but OneNote is quite flexible.

Just like Evernote, you can clip entire webpages or parts of webpages straight from the browser and then save them and the notebooks and pages that you have created in OneNote. The information organization capabilities of OneNote are great. I have saved massive amounts of research data using OneNote. I also organize my content writing schedule using OneNote.

Google Keep is also great for quickly saving information and notes. It’s quite handy when I need to save some information on my mobile phone and later on I need to access it from my PC.

6) Hemingway Editor as my content writing productivity tool

A good thing about the Hemingway Editor app is that it forces you to write very simple text. As the name indicates, it’s an editor. It comes with its own style enforcer and proofreader. The editor recommends that you write so that even 6th grader can understand. If you are using too many adverbs, if you are using passive voice, if you are using phrases that have simpler alternatives and if you are writing long sentences, it highlights those portions and prompts you to use better alternatives.

I purchased a copy a few months ago but I don’t use it as often as I should. But I do sometimes.

7) Xmind mind mapping tool to organize my thoughts

Do you use any mind mapping tool for writing long pieces of content? It helps you organize and move around your thoughts visually. You can go as deep as you can. These days I am using Xmind. I also used to use Free Mind, but recently it began to have some problem with the version of Java that I have installed on my PC. So, I started playing around with Xmind, and although it is a bit pricey tool, its free version is quite sufficient for what I need to do while planning and writing content.

8) Dragon NaturallySpeaking as my content writing productivity tool

Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the best dictation software available these days. Although you can do voice typing using the Google Docs Voice Typing features these days, it cannot equal Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

As I have mentioned that I have cerebral palsy with more than 80% physical disability, I dictate more than I type. Read Looking for a content writer with a disability?

Typing with hands was always a problem. I could use just one finger to type. I knew that Dragon NaturallySpeaking existed but I didn’t want to purchase such an expensive software application. Then one day my wife insisted that unless I bought it, it would be very difficult for me to survive as a content writer in such a highly competitive environment. I have been using it for almost 8 years now and I never fail to upgrade.

9) Google voice typing as my content writing productivity tool

Since I use my mobile phone a lot these days for content writing I must mention Google voice typing feature in the Google Android keyboard. Although most of the Android keyboards these days allow you to glide your finger across the keyboard to write extremely fast, sooner or later I have to resort to using Google Voice. To be frank, Google Voice is more accurate than Dragon NaturallySpeaking. The problem is, it is not as flexible as Dragon NaturallySpeaking when it comes to making corrections and using punctuation. But on a mobile phone, using Google Voice makes it much faster to type.

10) Timely as my content writing productivity tool

Why do I mention Timely? I mention it because after all it is a productivity tool although you cannot directly use it for writing content.

You see, when you are working on your own it is very difficult to monitor yourself. You don’t even realize and you get distracted. While in the midst of writing a blog post or a webpage suddenly you get distracted and start checking, maybe Twitter updates, or something else. Timely keeps you focused. It is constantly ticking.

Timely, if you don’t know, is a time tracking app. Although you can completely use it in a web browser, you can also download and install the desktop app and once you start it, a rectangular interface is always in front of you, telling you that minutes and seconds are ticking away. You don’t want to waste those minutes and seconds. It keeps me focused if I have it running in front of me.

So, these are my 10 productivity tools that I use for content writing. As I have mentioned above, it’s not that I continue to use them. Sometimes I discard them because I want to try out new tools. For example, I keep switching between MS Word and various other writing tools. Recently there was a time when for almost 6 months I didn’t open MS Word even once because the mobile app version was very lousy. I was totally smitten by WriteMonkey. Then I suddenly started using MS Word because one, they improved their mobile version and two, I find it more flexible, more powerful, and almost as easy to use as WriteMonkey.

Do you have your favorite content writing productivity tools? If yes, do share them in the comments section.

Image source: Evernote