Select Page

Writing apps can be a lifesaver for authors.

Especially if you’re like me, and you sometimes need a little push to avoid all the distractions that can keep you from writing, some of these writing apps really help.

For the record, this is not a sponsored post. No one has paid me to write this, and the opinions here are my own, from personal experience using these apps.

1. Write or Die

This is one of the most hardcore writing apps. Write or Die means business. Think of it as your personal writing drill sergeant.

Not only does the app have a fullscreen mode to help you avoid distractions, but it comes fully-equipped with motivational sounds and background images to help you achieve a high word count goal.

The dashboard allows you to set a custom timer and word count goal.

Write or Die is one of the best writing apps for increasing your speed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Stimulus mode” is my preferred writing mode in this app. You can set ambiance sounds, such as ocean waves, and a background image. The “stimulus” only stays up as long as you keep writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can set a reward in “Reward Mode,” such as chimes that play every time you reach a word count milestone that you specify.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you need a coach yelling over your shoulder to keep you writing, “consequence mode” might be more your style. This includes settings such as your screen changing color or Angry Cat appearing on the screen to glare at you if you stop writing. You can also set alarm bells and sirens to jog you out of your latest reverie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the truly hardcore (those of you who really want a writing drill sergeant), this app also offers “Kamikaze Mode.” Kamikaze Mode deletes everything you’ve written if you stop writing for longer than the (adjustable) grace period. 😱

Of all the writing apps I’ve ever tried, this is the only one that’s helped me write up to 2,000 words per hour. Without the app, my word count is between 1,000- 1,500 words per hour.

As you’re writing, the word count meter helps you see if you’re on track or not. I try not to stare at it too much, though. If you find yourself staring too much, try Reward Mode, which will notify you by sound when you reach a milestone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’re finished writing, click “Back to Lobby” in the bottom right. The app will automatically export a .txt file to the location of your choosing (you will be prompted to choose the save location before you start writing).

The one downside of using Write or Die is that the .txt file isn’t formatted at all. However, I noticed that if I copy and paste the text into my running Word doc, which is already formatted, Word was smart enough to format the pasted text for me after the first few times.

The other option is to just not worry about formatting until later on. For visual people like me, the thought is cringe-worthy; but most of your margin and paragraph settings can be done to the entire document at once.

Cost: $20 for the desktop version, or use the browser version for free. (Well worth the money for the customizable version).

2. Plottr

This is one of the newest writing apps out there, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of it yet. I wouldn’t have heard of it, either, if I hadn’t met the developer at the LTUE Writing Symposium!

What a wonderful accident that was. I got to try the beta version for free and received a discount when the full version launched. And of course, I bought it because I loved it!

Plottr is great for anyone who needs a visual way to plot their novel. It can hold so much more information than my (admittedly large) whiteboard.

I think by far the coolest thing about Plottr is that it can be used so many different ways. Nothing is holding you back from customizing plot lines to your heart’s content, because the developer purposely created it to do whatever you need.

For example, each row could be a character story arc, with each column being a day in the story.

You can use Plottr any way you want. It's highly customizable!

 

Or, each column could be a chapter, with each row being a scene description.

Plottr allows you to drag around scenes or character details.

 

Or (and I think this is what the developer intended), each row can represent the plot and subplots, with each column being a scene or chapter.

Plotter is one of the coolest new writing apps.

 

Once you have filled in the scene cards (just click on the colorful boxes), you can hover over the card for a quick preview of your notes:

Plottr is one of the most versatile writing apps.

You can also customize characters, places, and tags to help you filter through your plot in any way you like. I found it useful that you can switch between plotline view & outline view:

Plottr allows you to add custom scene tags and switch between outline view and plot line view.

 

 

In Plottr, you can add as much detail as you want to each character cards. You can also add custom attributes.

 

 

 

 

Honestly, I’m sure I’ve barely scratched the surface with Plottr. I was halfway through drafting Curse of Brys when I purchased this app. It’s helped me think through some plot development points, but I’m really looking forward to using it from the beginning for Aythinia’s Realm(Er, sort of the beginning, since I’ve already started writing Chapter 1. Darn those pantsing habits).

Note: Just like any other program, be sure to click “Save As.” You can save your file (which will have the extension .pltr) anywhere you want. But if you forget to save it, you will lose your changes when you close the app.

Cost: $20, or try it free for 30 days. Windows | Mac

3. Mind Node

I only recently discovered this app, but I already love it. Unfortunately, if you’re a PC user, this app seems to be available for Mac only. (I use Mac, sorry guys).

One of the members of my local writing group recommended Mind Node to me. I was ecstatic because I’d tried looking for something like this and hadn’t found anything I liked.

Mind Node is one of the most useful writing apps for story mapping. It’s everything you could ever want from a whiteboard, only it’s digital. Which means… So much data!

I mean, what writer doesn’t want to keep all of their notes on hand at all times?

Here’s a screen shot from when I was fiddling around with Mind Node for the first time: 

 

 

If I wasn’t in the middle of revisions right now, I would spend at least an hour mapping out everything I know about Curse of Brys. I can already tell this app is going to be useful for story mapping.

After all, the last time I tried mind mapping, I remember running out of room very quickly. I did at least 7 of these, and I had to take pictures with my phone so I could refer back later.

 

(Don’t read this map too closely, unless you want spoilers!)

This is one of the writing apps I’m most excited to use the next time I’m drafting an novel!

Cost: 2-week free trial, or $39.99 for the full app.

4. Self Control

Ah, self-control. The one thing that we all need more of if we want to finish writing a novel.

Good thing this app exists to give you exactly that: a way to control yourself and eliminate distractions so you can focus on writing!

Also available for Mac only, Self Control is one of the best writing apps for eliminating distractions. It allows you to list distracting websites you want to block for a specified amount of time.

You can also whitelist certain sites. In my case, this would include thesaurus.com, Pandora, and maybe Google Docs. Just the websites I use for everyday writing.

On the other hand, I would block social media sites, and sites like Meetup or Gmail, where I’m always getting messages and notifications that I tell myself I “have” to answer.

This app is really easy to use. Just type in the sites you want to block:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Press + to add more sites)

Next, set a time limit:

 

 

 

Then, BOOM! You’re ready to roll, distraction-free.

Pro Tip: You can add websites to your backlist even while Self Control is already running.

5. Grammarly

If you haven’t heard of Grammarly, you’re in for a real treat.

I dropped Spell Check long ago. It gave inaccurate grammatical revisions. All. The. Time.

I mean, once it told me to change “the glint of light on the wolf’s fur” to “the wolves fur.” No, Spell Check. That’s possessive, not plural.

Well. That, and a billion other issues I have with Spell Check, are now a thing of the past. The aptly-named Grammarly is the most accurate app for proofing grammar, spelling, and punctuation that I’ve ever found.

Though it doesn’t like the Oxford Comma, which can be really annoying. (An appellate court recently ruled that the Oxford Comma is necessary. Don’t @ me).

The best part about Grammarly is the Chrome plugin, which works right in your browser. So, whether you’re using Google Docs or typing an email, Grammarly’s got your back.

See? It even helped me proofread this blog post (yes, Plottr was spelled correctly, Grammarly didn’t have the brand name in its database yet):

Which writing apps have you tried?

Now that you’ve had a run-down of my favorite writing apps, give them a try and let me know what you think!

Do you have a favorite writing app? Tell us in the comments!