Writing tools and software for authors can improve the writing process from start to finish. Whether you are planning your book, in the process of writing, or editing your work, there’s a piece of writing software designed to make things easier.
In this post, we’re going to cover seven writing tools that make the writing process better. Whether they’ll save you time, keep you focused, or enable efficiency, they can help you out. We’ve organized 7 different writing tools by the three stages of the writing process (pre-writing, writing, and post-writing), so keep reading to find out when, and why, you should be using these.
Say you’ve got an idea for a book, but feel like you still need a little assistance before you’re ready to sit down at your computer and start writing. Formulating your thoughts and preparing to actually write can be one of the hardest parts in the book creation process! This stage of writing can be called “pre-writing.” You’re almost done planning but not quite creating content. Temi and Freedom are two pre-writing tools that prepare you to actually get words on your page.
Some authors need to “speak their book”. What we mean by this is that authors will often use recording tools to turn their voice into text. This process is called transcribing. Of the many transcription services on the market, Temi is arguably one of the cheapest. At just 10 cents per minute of audio, Temi records clear, accurate transcripts and can transcribe your words anywhere at anytime. Perfect for when you are stuck in traffic or don’t have access to your computer. Temi users open their app (available on both the App Store and Google Play) to start recording. Once your audio is recorded, Temi will email you a transcript within minutes
Temi is a writing software that serves as a huge time-saver for people who are on the go or love to vocalize their thoughts prior to writing. Personally speaking, I’ve had so many instances where story ideas popped into my brain, only to dissipate when I couldn’t get to my computer fast enough. With Temi, you can make the most of those “Ah ha!” moments and get your words down for future use.
Temi currently offers a free trial of their program. Simply go to their website, http://www.temi.com, and upload an audio or video file to watch Temi work their magic. Whether you use their free trial or choose to pay for their service, you’ll be able to edit your transcript at any time, export it as Word, PDF, and other files, and add timestamps. Temi is even able to recognize the change of voice in any speakers on your recordings.
Bottom line – Who is Temi best for? Writers who want the flexibility of writing anywhere.
Every time you sit down at the computer to write the next great American novel, your mind floats away. You end up on Facebook, messaging your best friend’s sister’s neighbor. Or you decide to spend just five minutes checking your work email… Which turns into two hours. As much good as the Internet does, it also enables a whole list of distractions to steal us away from our precious creative time. For many writers, eliminating these distractions can be a game-changer. Freedom is a website blocker available for Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS.
While it is not specifically a writing tool, Freedom is a great fit for writers looking to eliminate online distractions. Freedom allows you to temporarily block any website or app for a chosen period of time. Need to stay away from Instagram for four hours? You got it. Select which devices you want to block Instagram on (such as a cell phone or iPad), enter the name of the website you wish to block, and set a schedule. Bam. The apps or websites of your choosing have been blocked for your determined amount of time.
Freedom has three price points ($6.99 for one month of unlimited access, $2.42 a month for one year of unlimited access, or a one-time $129 payment for access forever).
Bottom line – Who is Freedom best for? Writers who can’t afford to waste any time.
After coming up with a book idea and blocking any potential distractions, you’re ready to sit down and write! Surprisingly, one of the biggest debates amongst writers can be what book writing software they prefer to use. Some people are hardcore Microsoft Word fans. Other people swear by Google Docs. Which writing software do authors use to compile their novel? Below, we want to introduce you to three writing tool options outside of Microsoft Word and Google Docs. Writers, meet Scrivener, Ulysses, and StoryShop and get ready to get writing!
Arguably one of the more well-known options for writing software, Scrivener is a word processing tool available to Windows, Mac, and iOS users. What makes Scrivener so unique – and popular – is the fact that it assists you with every stage of writing. It gives you the ability to write in various stages, so if you have ideas for a scene that’s placed at the end of your book you can write it down, save it, and then move it to the end of your book at a later time. You can even store scenes in “smart folders” to effectively and clearly save information for later. You’ll also be able to see a clear outline of your book as you work on it. This can be hugely helpful for staying focused. Instead of feeling like you’re floundering with no direction through your book, this writing tool can help keep things organized.
Doing research for your writing project? With Scrivener, you can keep notes, important web pages, or even earlier chapters of your project next to your text (essentially seeing two screens at once). Perhaps one of Scrivener’s greatest highlights is its ability to gather and hold research. If you’re looking for writing software that will gather your research and keep it organized for you, Scrivener can do it. And, once you’re finished writing, you can then export your project in popular formats like Word or PDF.
Not everything about Scrivener will be brand new to you, though. Similar to Microsoft Word, you can edit your document, use creative fonts, access your word count, and more. However, unlike other word processors, the many different ways that Scrivener allows you to view your text (side-by-side with other documents, in a full screen blocking out distractions, and more) sets it apart.
Scrivener has two price points. For Mac and Windows, a standard license costs $45. An educational license is $38.25. Using Scrivener on your iPad or iPhone? It’ll cost you $19.99. And finally, you can have the option of using Scrivener on both Mac and Windows for $75.
Bottom line – Who is Scrivener best for? Writers who need a one-stop shop for researching, writing, and publishing.
As we just mentioned, Scrivener offers many specialized functions that go far beyond the act of writing. But what if you’re an author interested in a writing-only tool? It’s time for you to meet Ulysses, a Mac-only writing tool that has many similarities to Microsoft Word while simultaneously offering authors a completely unique writing platform. The Ulysses website touts its tool as being “clean and intuitive”, giving writers a focused, minimalist way to type. If your goal is finding a tool for distraction-free writing, Ulysses is for you.
Something that separates Ulysses from other word processors is that it supports Markdown, a shortcut system that makes publishing web content easier. If you’re trying to write a book, learning about Markdown and implementing it into Ulysses probably won’t be necessary for you. But if you’re a coder or someone who finds themselves putting out frequent web content, you can use Markdown to read 48 different programming languages. Remember, you don’t need to use Markdown if you purchase Ulysses, but it’s an additional tool available to you.
While Ulysses focuses on being an easy to use, distraction-free writing tool, there’s more to it than just word processing. Just like Microsoft Word, you can access a word counter. Unlike Microsoft Word, though, Ulysses allows you to set a word count goal for each typing session. Having a hard time staying motivated? Let this be one extra way to make sure you get your words down. Beyond these tools, Ulysses also offers a customizable workplace where you can write in Plain Text or Typewriter mode or mix up your workplace color scheme.
As for pricing, Ulysses follows a subscription model like Hulu or Netflix. For $4.99 a month (or $39.99 a year), you’ll be able to access the platform on a Mac, iPhone, or iPad. They also offer a 14-day free trial on https://ulysses.app/pricing/.
Bottom line – Who is Ulysses best for? Writers who are interested in experiencing a unique and streamlined writing tool with the tried and true editing tools of Microsoft Word.
I don’t know about you, but nothing seems to get my creative brain into gear quite like fun. Whether that’s through me actually getting out and having fun (hello, hiking with my dog) or visiting an exciting, colorful website, a little bit of playfulness or silliness can really get me thinking. This is a huge reason that I find StoryShop, a word processing tool, to be such an innovative writing option. Described by their founder as “an app that helps you write better stories faster”, StoryShop has many of the features of most well-known word processors with the fun and creativity of an entirely newfangled program focused on creating stories.
StoryShop says it’s different than other writing tools because of its focus on “world building”. When you sign up for an account with StoryShop, you’ll be taken to your dashboard where you’ll choose or create a book template and input information like your “book world” (the site has 36 world building categories to choose from). The greatest focus here is on storytelling and the idea that your story or book goes far beyond text. When you write a story, you create a whole universe filled with characters, ideologies, and imaginative locations. StoryShop gives you the chance to keep up with these unique worlds in one place.
Their app enables you to tag scenes as taking place in certain locations, track relationships between characters, and create entire backstories on the people in your story. I tried out the free version of this app and found the interface to be easy to follow. It’s intuitive and gave me everything I needed to turn my story into its own universe. StoryShop gave me a list of 14 premade genre-based templates. After I decided to try out the Romance genre template, I had access to an outline of what a typical Romance book plot resembles. StoryShop made it easy for me to plot my book right there in the app!
Once you’ve updated your character and world information and written your story, you can invite collaborators to view your book for editing or proofreading services. And remember, StoryShop can be accessed from anywhere (on your phone, computer, or tablet) as it is stored on the cloud.
Ultimately, StoryShop should be thought of as a story-crafting tool. It is creative, fun, and best suited to writers who are interested in using a word processor that will bring their story to life. They offer three payment plans (free, $79.50 a year, or $9.99 a month).
Bottom line – Who is StoryShop best for? Writers who want to build a book world, oversee it, and be able to add to it as they go – all in one place.
Great! Now that you were able to focus and choose the correct writing software for you, you’ve written a book. Congratulations! While many writers think that this is the end of their book journey, it has only just begun. Now that you’re finished writing, you’ll need to get it ready for publication. In order to make this happen, you want to ensure that your product is flawless – whether that happens through editing or book formatting, you have a few more steps before that book can be read by the world. Keep reading to learn more about two writing tools, Hemingway and Vellum, that will get your book ready for publication.
While word processors do offer spell check tools, sometimes they can still overlook commonplace grammatical or spelling errors. Seeking extra help by hiring an editor can be costly. So what’s another option for authors who need editorial help? Hemingway, an editing app, offers writers another option for checking their grammar and spelling. Also, since it’s offered for both Mac and Windows users, anyone can gain access to this service.
Going beyond basic typos or spelling issues, Hemingway is able to check for wordiness, the passive voice, dull word usage, and more. The app will highlight different types of errors in separate colors, that way you’ll be able to easily track what mistakes are being made and where they’re occurring. Have a sentence that’s a bit too… verbose? Hemingway highlights those instances in yellow, for example.
Beyond editorial suggestions and assistance, Hemingway’s writing software is able to provide you with reports on your text’s readability and word count. In the image above, check out the right side of Hemingway’s homepage. This is exactly what you’ll see when you’re inside the app. As you can see, by using Hemingway you can limit phrases like adverbs and have a clear image of what needs to be improved upon within your text. Once you’re finished using Hemingway to edit your book, you can export your writing directly to text, Word or PDF. And similarly to Ulysses, Hemingway supports Markdown and can export your text as HTML for blog platforms or CMS.
Bottom line – Who is Hemingway best for? Writers who want help with spelling, grammar, or sentence structure without paying for a human editor.
If you’re involved in the world of self-publishing, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve heard of Vellum. Vellum is a Mac-only book formatting writing software that enables you to upload your own text, format it for eBooks or print copies, and then export both eBook and print files. With a user-friendly interface, it’s never been so easy to publish your own books. And with Vellum’s ability to generate books for Kindle, Apple, Nook, Kobo, Google, ePub formatting, and print, you can get your book to as many readers as possible.
In order to properly use Vellum, you’ll need to make sure that your book is completely ready for publication. Think of this as the final step before your book is sent out into the world! Vellum takes your text, wraps it up in its final packaging, and creates what readers will see. Once you import your text (it must be in a Word file) into Vellum, you’ll be able to add “elements” like an epigraph, epilogue, or acknowledgments page. You can also choose one of eight book styles for your formatting (options range from Sudo, which has a sci-fi vibe, to Oxford, which seems a little more Regency-era). Whatever formatting options you choose are exactly what your reader will see. As you can tell in our image shown above, Vellum gives you an example of exactly how your book will display on a tablet.
Since Vellum enables eBook files, you’ll be able to include links within your book. Want to have an about the author page at the end of your book? Great, you can do that. You can even include links to your Amazon author page or website within the text. And with Vellum, your book margins, headers, fonts, and page numbers are all figured out for you. Once you’re happy with your styling options, use the preview option within Vellum to see how your book will look in a variety of formats.
For $199.99, you can use Vellum to create unlimited eBooks. For $50 more, at $249.99, have the option of creating unlimited eBooks and paperback copies.
Bottom line – Who is Vellum best for? Anyone who uses a Mac that wants to take the guesswork, or challenges, of doing book formatting on their own out of the book writing process.
To be blunt, writing is hard. It’s complicated, time-consuming, and also one of the most exciting passions to pursue. While we’re all familiar with its many challenges, it’s time to get familiar with the tools available to us that can make writing easier and more enjoyable! Anyone who loves to write knows there’s no better feeling than getting a good sentence down (whether that’s done on paper, in Microsoft Word, or on another word processor is totally up to you!) So, writers – have you used any of the tools mentioned in our list? Do you have any writing software tools that you recommend? Let us know in the comments below!