I’m a big fan of not over-complicating simple things. I would not endorse spending bucket-loads of cash on some activity you could enjoy for free. That’s one thing I appreciate about writing and running– they are low-cost, high-enjoyment activities. Sure, you could go out and spend $500 on a better keyboard or swanky running clothes, but you don’t have to! It’s completely optional! At times, capitalism tends to add unnecessary complications to life’s purest pleasures.
Because of that, I’m very skeptical of any writing apps. Because seriously, all you need is a word processor! Or a pen and napkin! That being said, though, there are a handful of free apps that I do find helpful for writing– mainly, because they streamline productivity and remove distractions, instead of doing the opposite. Here they are:
1. Self Control. I discussed Self Control on yesterday’s blog, but to reiterate, it’s a great tool for blocking websites for set periods of time so you can focus on your writing instead of time-wasting sites. I like to use Self Control when I’m writing so I can stay focused only writing, and not other things.
2. Write or Die. Besides having an epic name, Write or Die is also a great app to use when you get writer’s block. You enter a word count goal, a time goal, and select your “consequences”– which, depending on which mode you use, include a flashing red screen, horrible violin music, and (gasp) deletion if you start writing too slowly. It’s probably not the best way to write an entire novel, but it’s a terrific way to get out of a rut!
3. 750 Words. My friend got me hooked on this site last year. I asked her how it was any different from writing 750 words a day on a normal word processor. “It gives you badges!” she exclaimed. It’s hard to understand how motivating the badges are until you actually use the app. You get online badges according to milestones in your writing streak (750+ words/day for 30 days in a row, for instance) and speed. It’s a great app to use if you are trying to establish a habit of writing every day and need a little extra encouragement.
4. Celtx. I started using Celtx for screenwriting, but I realized it’s also great for formatting other documents, like novels. If you don’t use a program like this one, formatting can take a lot of Google searches and time, and besides that, the defaults screenwriting templates that come with many word processing programs are often clunky. Celtx is very intuitive and makes formatting much, much easier.
If you’ve tried any really useful (or really useless) writing apps, I would love to hear your stories!
Also in this series: