Best software and apps for writing

Many at times I get emails from people asking me "What writing software do you use?" or "Kindly recommend your best writing app". It is without a doubt that thanks to technological advancements writing has become less tedious. This however does not mean that you should fully replace the native
writing techniques with writing tools and softwares. Remember, not everything that glitters is gold.
I am both an author and a blogger, which basically means I live and breath by writing. I come across various tools, softwares and apps, others through research and others through recommendations.

THE BEST WRITING SOFTWARE AND APPS FOR 2020

Writing us an art and therefore as a writer you should not give up your craft for a shiny tool. Pen and paper still work just fine.
I am going to cover all the writing softwares I have used. It is important to note that for the sake of this review I had to try out new softwares.
Below are several writing tools that can help you write both faster and better:

Scrivener

This is a writing tool that is suitable for both short and long form pieces of writing. I use Scrivener when writing my blog posts, newspaper features, reports and other text forms.
It is available as a desktop app for both Windows and Mac and as a mobile app for iOS and Android phones.
It helps writers to organize and manage their projects as need be.
In comparison to Microsoft word, Scrivener features go far beyond basic. It has three major functions: typewriter, scrapbook and ringbinder. These can make it a bit difficult to learn how to navigate through the software.

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Scrivener does not tell you how to write, it's not like a grammar checker or proofreading tool. It simply provides you with everything you'll need to write.
For most writers it is always quite a hassle to pick templates, fonts, vary line spacing and justify text. This process is rather tedious and time consuming. As a writer you need to focus on sourcing information, gathering it, sorting it out in an organized structure and typing words. Although the app has features
that help you in the appearance of your document, you don't need to worry about that. Scrivener sorts everything out once you're done writing. This software is perfect for serious writers.

Ulysess

Ulysses provides you with a great writing environment. It has proclaimed itself as the ultimate writing  appfor Mac, iOS and iPad. It has a modern user interface which is designed to keep you focused and typing for as long as possible. This helps you to focus on content reaction rather than your work's appearance. This is a problem I experienced with other writing tools, where the UI is not appealing which leads to a writer getting easily distracted. The best way to get work done is to stick to it for as long as possible and take breaks only when necessary.

As a writer, it is also advisable to keep your fingers on the keyboard for as long as possible (personal advice). Ulysses helps you with this through Markdown. Its is a modified and customizable version.

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It provides you with a wide range of shortcut keys for almost any function you perform within the app. If you are mouse lover, Ulysses has got you covered too.
Its spell checker and grammar checker are turned on as you type. You can also analyze your work as you type thanks to a toolbar icon. It also provides you with keywords, a word count, a goal and immediate feedback on your work.

With Ulysses it is very easy to organize and arrange your content. It provides a single library for all your texts, which are backed up in the cloud and can be accessed through any of your devices. Navigating this library is also very easy and highly convenient. I have used this tool for close to 5 years and till date it is still one of my top recommendations.

Prowritingaid

This tool serves as both a writing and grammar checker tool. It is available as a web editor and plugin for  GoogleDocs, MS Word and other writing tools such as Scrivener. Some of the issues pointed out by the tool are: grammar and spelling errors, passive verbs, redundant words, lengthy sentences, unnecessary adverbs among several others.

You can either write directly on to the tool or paste your text. It uses color-coded underlining to point out errors and make suggestions. It helps in self editing as one can go through the given suggestions and decide which one corrects their mistakes best. You also get to learn and improve your writing skills in the process.

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ProWritingAid also offers key statistics on your document. These include: word count, number of sentences Flesch Reading Score. It offers suggestions on key actions that would better these statistics.

ProWritingAid has a free version and a paid for premium version. It costs $60 a year, $90 for two years, $120 for three years and $210 for a lifetime plan. As you can see, the annual rate decreases with increase in time of subscription. I would highly recommend this tool.

Grammarly

This is an AI powered grammar checker tool. It is available in the web browser and as a mobile app for  Androidand iOS phones. It is also available as a plugin for Google Chrome and Google's Docs.

Some of its functions include: checking for grammar and spelling mistakes, plagiarism checker and offers synonyms for redundant words. It also checks on punctuation, article and modifier placement, irregular verb conjugations and subject-verb agreement.

Grammarly free version provides you with the basic feature i.e. grammar and spelling checkers. The premium version on the other hand has more advanced features including a plagiarism detector, advanced grammar and style checkers and vocabulary suggestions.

A premium plan costs $29.95 per month or $139.95 per year which is cheaper.

There's one feature that sets Grammarly apart from other writing tools and that's its goal setting option. Before you start writing, the tool requires you to set your writing goals. These are based on your audience, tone, formality, domain and intent. This helps the tool to give you more specific suggestions while editing your piece. It also tests your performance by gauging your readability through your word count, word length and sentence length.

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Grammarly doesn't replace a human editor, but it helps you improve your writing skills though it's suggestions.

Google Docs

This is a simple word processor that does not offer much besides formatting and outlining. Although simple, it can be very helpful to writers on a low cost budget for it is absolutely free.

You can share your content with another person by adding their email address to your work. This sharing can also be done through link sharing. You can also control whether you want these people to make changes to your document or not, you're in total control. You can also access your previous work before changes were made. Most writing and editing tools only work with internet access but Google Docs has an offline mode.

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I would recommend it for new writers and those in a low cost budget, but not to serious writers.

Hemingway Editor

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This writing tool helps your writing come out clearly and boldy. It is color coded and therefore helps you know exactly what the problem is and provides you with helpful insights that may help you fix them. It helps with word count problems by omitting and replacing the unnecessary with the necessary, also changes sentences from active to passive voice.
This tool is very essential for self editing.

iMindmap

Writing long form texts entails more than just writing. It includes a lot of planning and strategizing, this is exactly what iMindMap helps with. It helps you strategize the outcome of your book or chapters by creating mind maps that give you a sense of direction. A mind map could include anything, from texts, to chapters, to images, to hyperlinks, to presentations among several other factors. These factors are dependent on your tastes and preferences. This plan helps you finish your articles faster as it provides a clear and proper guideline on how to go about it.

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Outlining is very useful if you want to increase your word count, especially for non-fiction writers. The most advanced mind mapping tool out there is iMindMap but other alternatives include MindNode and MindMoister.

Dragon naturally speaking

Beating deadlines is always THE task for writers. Sometimes you just wish you could dictate while your writing tool does all the writing. Well this is very possible thanks to Dragon Naturally Speaking, a dictation writing software. Dictation helps you write up to, if not over 1000 words per hour, something that a word processor could not pull off. This tool definitely helps you write and complete your work faster.

Windows and Mac also have inbuilt dictation softwares, although not as advanced as Dragon Naturally Speaking. These tend to note down wrong words while Dragon Naturally Speaking is very keen to listen. The obvious downside to using this tool is language barrier, which is mostly caused by people with accents so if you have a heavy accent I suggest you stick to manually typing. This tool is perfect for those with projects that are time bound and are trying to beat a deadline.

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Rev

This is also another useful dictation app for writers. It is available as a mobile app for both Android and iOS. Rev doesn't directly transcribe your work. Instead, you record your piece on either of the apps, upload it onto Rev and pay a human transcriber at $1 per minute. Though time consuming, this is very reliable. This is perfect for interviews because you get to save time on writing everything down as it's being said. The amount you spend on Rev depends on the length of your audio clips.

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Blurt

Blurt is an interesting new app useful for blog posts, newsletters, journal entries, books and so on. This is how it works, you first log in and select the type of project you want to work on. After that set targets on both your word count and the duration you plan on working this project. Blurt is only available via a web browser, which can prove to be a bit distracting to most writers, myself included. It however has a medium user interface which will keep you glued to your work because it is eye-friendly. As you are writing your first draft, Blurt blurs out your previous sentences in an attempt to prevent self editing and this save on time and remain focused. Once your project is ready you could either copy paste your work to an editing tool, share directly from Blurt to Medium or export the text as Markdown. The tool offers a free 14 day trial then charges $4.99 a month. This tool is perfect for those trying to create a daily writing habit, especially non-fiction writers.

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Evernote

I mostly use Evernote for nothing down important ideas and points for my book chapters and blog posts. We all know ideas come to us more randomly than when we actually sit down to write. Noting down these ideas as they come to you is very important as you can refer to them when the doing the actual writing. This technique is also proved to overcome writer's block. Evernote is definitely a note-taking app worth looking at it. The writing tool also has a dictation feature which is useful when you're too tired or exhausted to right such that you simply transcribe your voice notes to text. This is just one of the many features found in the app.

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A popular alternative to Evernote is Bear.

Airstory

If you are a non-fiction writers who uses a lot of citations in your writing them this tool is perfect for you. You always come across interesting pieces when conducting research. Airstory enables you to clip these pages and cites onto it's library and tag the page itself. When time finally comes for you to work on your text, you can add that citation to your document by simply dragging the clip onto your document. It's a lot similar to Evernote, difference is it's a bit faster and better streamlined. Airstory provides a free web clipper for Chrome and Firefox browsers. If you curate lots of content for newsletters then this tool is also perfect for you. Would definitely recommend it.

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The Novel Factory

If you are a fiction writer then this is for you. The Novel Factory is only available on the web browser and as a desktop app for Windows. It has a free trial period, after which you are required to pay €24.99. If you are a first time fiction writer, this tool offers directions on how to go about it. It offers a step-by-step tutorial which takes you through themes, characters, scenes and so many more. It basically holds your hand the whole way.

I however did not test the tool extensively for it has been a long time since I wrote any fiction texts. This tool greatly reminded me of the fiction template on Scrivener. It is very helpful if you're still learning to write.

Campfire

Also aimed at beginner fiction writers, Campfire is yet another writing software that helps with story planning. As I began my writing close to 10 years ago, I wish there were similar softwares and apps that would help me in my writing but unfortunately there weren't that many, those that were there were very costly. Campfire has a beautiful origin story as it was created by two 19-year-old American college students. It only took them two months to get this software up and running. It is available as a desktop app for Mac and Windows. At the time of writing this review Campfire had a little over 2000 users, and the numbers keep growing. Though the app still needs polishing, the developers' vision is very clear. Campfire offers a 10-day free trial, after that you either pay $24.99 for Standard version or $49.99 Pro version. These payments are once-off payments, meaning you'll never need to pay again. The app is most useful to fiction writers in their story planning and character creation.

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Ia Writer

This is one of the best distraction-free apps that is perfect for small projects. I intensely use it for blog posts, newsletters and most of my other articles. The writing tool is available in all Apple products. It has several features but among my favorites is a feature known as Focus Mode which helps writers in overcoming distractions. This writing tool is offered in a full screen mode. As you type, it highlights the current sentence you are typing and blurs out every other thing in the document. This feature is very useful as it helps you focus solely on your writing avoiding distractions such as self editing before you're done writing.

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This word processor also syncs my work across all my devices which is very convenient because I can access my projects at any time and wherever. Alternatives for IA Writer include WhiteRoom and Byword.

A plain text editor

If you are a writer on a fixed budget for writing and proofreading tools then you don't need to worry yourself that much. Neither do you need to buy expensive tools and spend lots of money. Simply use the text editor that comes with most operating systems. Plain text editors are useful when writing short texts quickly and easily.

The top self-publishing tools

The next step after writing your book is self-publishing. For this you'll need and editor, a book title and a book cover that looks good across all devices.
Below are self-publishing tools that help you accomplish this.

KDP Rocket

This is an easy-to-use tool that gives you ideas in how to make you book fabulous and in turn how to monetize it.

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KindleSpy

This is a spy tool for Amazon Kindle. It helps you monitor which tools are selling on Amazon and how much they go for. It gives you statistics on these top sellers which you can use for your own strategizing. This information can help you increase the sales of your book.

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99 Designs

You can use this tool to find a designer for the cover of your book. These cover designers charge from €279 with 100% money back guarantee if not satisfied. It provides you with dozens of design concepts.

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Vellum

Using Vellum is a delight. I have been using it for several years now. It helps you to easily create a book that looks good. Printing books with Vellum is also possible within minutes, same goes to creating amazing e-books. Self-publishing with Vellum is one of the easiest ways to self-publish.

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Pickfu

Coming up with book titles is not an easy task. Your title not only needs to be captivating, but also speak on the contents of your book. Remember that a book's title is just as important as its cover. Pickfu helps you come up with a title for your book. You are also allowed to test various titles and get feedback on what works and what doesn't. This will cost you a fee.

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Try Pickfu if you can't come up with a title.

Reedsy

Signing up to Reedsy gives you access to a community of self-publishing professionals. These include book editors, cover designers and proofreaders who are always ready to work with you.

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The best blogging tools

Are you interested in blogging? Or are you wondering how you can make your blog posts better? For newbie writers, I'd suggest you start by using WordPress. Don't worry about tools for now. Regardless, here are the tools I use.

Siteground

As I mentioned for newbie writers who are just starting to use WordPress, you need to self-host it in your own domain. One of my top recommendations for web hosting services is Siteground.
The site has the latest speed technologies. You also never need to worry about the privacy or security of
your work for one of their specialties is offering unique security solutions. Another one of their other specialties is how well they handle technical queries.

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Studiopress Themes

Studiopress offers a variety of WordPress press themes that are of high quality. I use Eleven40 Pro and pay $99.95 but that's just my personal preference. The other these are just as good, if not better. It is important to note that these themes work hand in hand with Genesis Framework. Buying a premium WordPress theme not only saves on time but also gives your blog a rather professional look and feel.

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Try Studiopress Themes.

ConvertKit

ConvertKit is an email marketing tool that's best for professional writers and bloggers. Some of the marketing techniques that can be explored using this tool include sale emails, educational emails and email courses based off your book. These only work if sent to the right audience and at the right time, ConvertKit helps with that. Another useful feature on the tool is automated marketing. Try it in order to boost sales on your books.

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LeadPages

This is an easy-to-use blogging tool. You can create landing pages for your blog through a drag and drop technique. It helps you take command of your audience by learning exactly what they need.

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Canva

This is yet another easy-to-use tool perfect for non-designers. It helps you design images, posters and even edit or create videos. It offers hundreds of templates, fonts and other additional designing features. It is free of charge therefore perfect for writers on a low cost budget. Use this to create images for you posts and covers for your books.

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MeetEdgar

One of the best ways to promote your work is through social media. This can however be very time consuming for it is not as simple as just posting. MeetEdgar automated your social media activities. You can build up a library of posts you want up on social media then create a long term schedule on how you'd like them posted. The tool posts bearing in mind all the statistics that would make your posts thrive. This would eventually drive traffic back to your blog.

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Research apps and tools

Research is part of your craft as an author or blogger. You always need to have an in-depth knowledge on whatever it is you plan to write about. Research also serves as a source for inspiration. You always want your readers to get correct and up-to-date Information.

Trello

Trello is very powerful when it comes to project management. It has boards, lists and cards that help in your organization, management and prioritization of your projects. You also get to work with an editor. The tool is offered as a mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. These are paid for (premium), however the Android app has a free version. The premium version has more useful features in comparison to the free version.

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Zoom

This is one of the best video conferencing and web conferencing tools. Why would a writer need a conferencing tool? Writers interview subjects for their book all the time. They also talk to blog readers for feedback on blogposts. Zoom simplifies all that by helping you hold these meetings from wherever you are. The video calls can not only be recorded, but you can also hold group calls and meetings.

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I must admit that there are a couple of similar tools, but out of all I have tried Zoom's voice quality still reigns supreme. You can hear every word being said on the other end of the call without any hassle.

Freedom

This is perfect for writers that get easily distracted. As I've mentioned over and over on this article, writing directly onto a web browser can prove to be very distracting. This tool halts the distractions by disabling your internet access. This will be for a pre+determined period decided by yourself. This helps you solely focus on your writing.

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Writing courses

If you have difficulties with your writing, or if you want to polish your writing techniques then maybe you need to take an online writing course.

Steve Martin's Comedy Masterclass

If you are a comedy writer then Masterclass is definitely worth it. It will definitely help you in developing your comic writing skills. These lessons teach you everything, from establishing your voice, recognising your audience and nailing your craft. These lessons are not only taught by one of the top American humorists Steve Martin, but also other top-rate professionals such as David Mamet and James Patterson. If you want to add more color and thrill to your comic strips or texts, then you should take this course.

Guest Blogging

This is a course hosted by Jon Morrow. I would not recommend this course If you want your blog posts to be published on quality websites such as Copyblogger or Fast Company. Guest posting is however the best way to go your blog and so I would still recommend this course to writers who want to grow a fast audience. This premium course teaches you how to creatively come up with ideas for your blog posts. It also teaches how to maneuver through your audience and rise to the top. Jon Morrow's team also pitches you to the best editors. In addition, they help you get published. Use this course to turn new readers into die-hard fans.

Final Word

As witnessed, there are so many writing apps and blogging tools, others are free, others are costly, and most work to suit your desires. Even with this in mind, your craft should always come first. Settle on any of the tools from the above list, the ones that work best for you, then get back to working on your craft. I have spent a huge amount of time testing these apps and tools. The ones that helped me the most I still use till date. The ones that came across as time wasters I dumped without a second thought. You need to choose tools and apps that add value not only to your site, but also to you as a writer and to your skill.

Correct usage of writing apps and blogging tools can help you create a good and lasting relationship with your readers.

I hope this article helps you find exactly what you need.

 

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