I am sometimes asked ‘What are the best writing apps?’
‘What’s the best writing software?’
Now, I’m both an author and blogger, and I enjoy testing the latest and greatest writing apps and software.
So, on this regularly updated page, you can find a list of writing apps and software I have tried.
I use many of these writing tools regularly. Others, come recommended by writers and authors. Everything here will help you become a better, smarter and a more productive writer provided…
You put writing first.
Remember, while today’s writing software is useful and powerful, don’t let a shiny tool distract you.
That means spending time in the chair and writing your articles, books or stories!
When you’re done, you can tinker with the best writing apps as a reward.
Please note, this page contains some affiliate links meaning I get a commission if you sign up to a writing app via this page.
|BEST WRITING APPS 2020|
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Use the table below to find out more about the best writing apps for 2020.
- Living Writer
- Google Docs
- Dragon Naturally Speaking
- Write! Pro
- Ginger Software
- IA Writer
- A Plain Text Editor
- Final Draft
- Day One
- Hemingway App
- Ayoa (formerly iMindMap)
- The Novel Factory
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I use this application to check my blog posts and book chapters for typos and spelling mistakes. The premium version of Grammarly has powerful features that also help you to improve your writing skills.
It provides several editing recommendations such as avoiding passive voice, using shorter sentences, alternative word suggestions for using a broader vocabulary, and so on. Many of these features are also invaluable when you need to trim your word count.
You can find out why I like this premium grammar checker in my 2020 Grammarly review.
Use for: checking your work for grammar mistakes.
It costs $29.99 per month.
Living Writer is a new writing app for writing stories or a book. Rather than using a word processor, Living Writer is accessible via your web browser.
It helps writers arrange their plots and stories using boards much like Scrivener. Living Writer contains a series of outline templates for popular story structures like the Hero’s Journey.
ProWritingAid is another proofreading and grammar checker writing app that will help you improve your writing and refine the art of the self-editing.
It works similarly to Grammarly, but it’s more affordable. If you’re unsure about this writing software and how it compares to the apps above, I recently published a detailed review and video comparison.
It costs $50 for one year.
Use for: self-editing
I can’t recommend Scrivener enough as a writing app for longer-form works.
I use this book writing software to write feature articles for newspapers, long-form content, reports, books and more. In the past, I used Scrivener for blogging. These days, I use it mostly for long-form writing.
Scrivener goes far beyond a regular word processor such as Microsoft Word.
Scrivener makes it easier for writers as well as students to organise their ideas and manage more complicated writing projects, using both the desktop tool and mobile writing app. It’s also available on iPad.
Scrivener also has plenty of keyboard shortcuts to speed up the writing process.
It costs $45.
Use for: writing books and longer-form works.
I use Google Docs (part of GSuite) as a writing app to collaborate with other writers and editors.
Google Docs comes part of G Suite and as a word-processing software goes, it’s easy to use and works anywhere.
I also use the rather generous Google Drive cloud storage to back up my writing, notes, source files, images, writing prompts and more. And, I can access my writing on the go (and update my Google docs) using the mobile app.
The biggest advantage of Google Docs over Microsoft Word as a writing tool is its easy-to-use collaboration features. Everyone who has access to the file can work on it simultaneously.
Each user can leave comments on the document which is great for making clarifications or requesting changes during the writing process. Google Docs allows you to see the entire document history and the specific changes each user has made to the doc.
Use for: collaborating with other writers or editors.
It costs approximately $5 per month, per user.
ConvertKit is one of the best email services built for writers and bloggers who want to write to their readers.
You can use it to create email courses based on your book and to send educational and sales emails to the right readers at the right time.
Unlike a lot of other email services, it’s easy to use, and ConvertKit even supports marketing automation. I reveal more in this ConvertKit review.
Use for: building an email list of readers
Dragon Naturally Speaking
I use dictation writing software to write 1,000s of words per hour when up against a deadline, something I just couldn’t pull off with a word processor.
Dictation is not like typing, but it’s a skill worth learning.
For exploring this writing tool to write faster and converting speech to text, check out my guide to how I use the writing tool Dragon Naturally Speaking.
If you’re on a budget, you can try dictation by using the inbuilt software in Windows or Mac for your work.
Use for: dictation
It costs $300
Write! Pro bills itself as a digital workspace for writing and note-taking.
It works on Mac, Windows or Linux as an app on your computer. Write! Pro backups up your work to the cloud for safety and anywhere access.
It’s a distraction-free writing app much like Byword or IA Writer and comes with a focus mode and white and dark themes. However, Write! Pro includes more fonts and editing tools than those apps.
For example, the app enables writers to set daily goals around word-count and arrange both short and long-form writing using a file and folder structure as well as tabs, kind of like Scrivener.
Writers can also share their work with readers and editors from inside of the app. It also supports Markdown.
It costs $21.49.
Rev is another useful dictation app for writers.
Using the iPhone or Android app, you can dictate a draft into your phone and then upload to Rev for transcription by a human at $1 a minute.
Alternatively, if you interview someone for writing better non-fiction articles, you can save time by transcribing these interviews. It’s more accurate than using a dictaphone but at a cost.
It costs $1.25 per minute of transcribed audio.
Use for: transcriptions and dictation.
If you keep getting distracted while writing, use the app Freedom.
It helps manage one of the biggest distractions that writers face- the internet!
It will disable your internet access for a pre-determined period, allowing you to focus on writing and not on cat videos! This app comes recommended by everyone from Tim Ferriss to Oprah.
It costs $6.99 per month.
Use for: writing without distraction
I… love Vellum.
One of the trickiest parts of self-publishing is creating a book that looks good. Or at least it was.
With Vellum, you can create beautiful looking e-books and print books in minutes. I prepare all my books for self-publishing with Vellum, and it’s a delight to use.
It costs USD199 to created unlimited ebooks.
Use for: preparing a book to self-publish.
Ginger software is an affordable alternative to Grammarly.
I recommend the Ginger software writers who don’t consider english their primary language. It enables you to translate documents written in spanish, french, german and more into english and check for grammar errors.
Use for: checking your work for grammar mistakes
IA Writer is my favourite distraction-free writing app for short blog posts and articles. While Scrivener is great for managing large writing projects, this writing app is perfect for smaller ones.
This writing app for iPad, iPhone and Mac helps writers overcome distractions through a feature called the Focus Mode.
The writing tool also has a full-screen mode that highlights the line you are currently typing and fades out everything else on the document.
This is one of the most ingenious features I have come across for focusing your mind on the current point, which is rather useful especially in creative writing projects.
I use IA Writer on my laptop, desktop and mobile. It’s an elegant, easy-to-use word processor and it syncs my writing across all of my devices.
Other minimalist writing app alternatives include Byword and WriteRoom.
Use for: writing articles and blog posts
A Plain Text Editor
That’s right, if you’re a writer on a budget, you don’t need to spend any money buying expensive writing software or apps.
Instead, you can use the text editor that comes free with your operating system.
Just open up Notepad on Windows or TextEdit on a Mac. I like plain text editors for writing something short quickly and easily, without thinking much about it.
Use for: writing whatever, wherever.
I use Dynalist to create bullet-point outlines of articles and book chapters before I dictate them.
It’s the fastest outlining tool I’ve tried apart from mind-mapping software.
It also enables sharing and collaboration, which is useful if you want commission an article and give it to another writer to create.
If you’re the type of writer who likes to outline their work in advance, this tool is useful. It also supports Markdown, and can be used as a to-do list tool to.
It costs $7.99 per month, but the free version is probably good enough for most writers.
Use for: outlines
Ulysses is a more feature-rich alternative writing app to IA Writer or even Write! Pro.
For instance, it has features such as Markup-Based Text Editor, keyboard shortcuts so that writers can be faster, a library to organise notes and documents, set writing goals, publish directly to WordPress and Medium, and so on.
It includes mobile and tablet writing apps. Arguably, it’s not quite as distraction-free as IA Writer, but it helps you organise both small writing projects (like a blog post) and large ones (like a book).
Use for: writing articles and blog posts
Final Draft is the default app of choice for screenwriters.
I’ve experimented with Final Draft and it strikes me as an example of powerful writing software with a bigger learning curve than your typical word processor.
Although, I don’t write screenplays I was in a creative writing group a few years ago, any a few screen writers in it used this tool.
Use for: screen-writing
I’m a big believer in the power of journal writing for finding new ideas and conquering issues like writer’s block.
I use the writing app Day One every morning to write a short entry about what I’m struggling with and areas to focus on.
It syncs across all of my devices and supports pictures and markdown too.
Use for: journal writing
I use Evernote to record ideas for blog posts and book chapters during the day.
Jotting down n notes immediately when ideas come to you is a fantastic way of capturing random moments of inspiration as well as overcoming writer’s block. So this is certainly a note-taking app worth exploring.
I also save articles and writing prompts I like into Evernote as part of my personal swipe file using the mobile app.
This writing tool also has several other features worth exploring such as dictation mode which will easily allow you to transcribe your voice notes as text, integrations, team collaboration and more.
You can read about how I take charge of Evernote in this guide. Bear is a popular alternative to Evernote.
Use for: outlining and capturing ideas.
Ernest Hemingway famously said:
“If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.”
That’s easier said than done.
So they created a writing app with him in mind!
The good news is writers can use Hemingway Editor to improve their writing and self-editing skills. Paste your text into the application and it will provide suggestions for removing an unnecessary word here and there such as adverbs or tautology.
It also suggests reframing specific sentences from passive voice to active voice and much more. Hemingway is useful when you wish to reduce your word-count without leaving out any essential points from your article.
It’s also free.
Use for: self-editing
Ayoa (formerly iMindMap)
I use Ayoa to create mind maps for articles and book chapters. This writing app enables me to finish articles faster.
I recommend outlining as a way of working for non-fiction writers who want to increase their daily word-count.
This approach works particularly well if you then dictate your mindmaps as articles.
iMindMap is the most advanced mind mapping tool available today but cheap alternatives include MindNode and MindMeister.
Use for: outlining your non-fiction articles and chapters
Blurt is an interesting new app with the aim of helping writers work a little every day.
It’s useful for writing journal entries, blog posts, a newsletter, a book and essay via a web-browser.
Once logged in, pick a project type and then set a target word-count for a writing project as well as the days you’ll work on it.
The clean and distraction-free interface is a little Medium, assuming you don’t find writing in a browser distracting. It also enables you to prevent self-editing while writing a first draft by blurring out previous sentences.
Once a project is complete, you can share writings directly from Blurt to Medium, copy it from Blurt or export as Markdown.
If you’re interested in Blurt, you can take out a free 14-day trial before paying USD4.99 a month.
Use for: Non-fiction, creating a daily writing habit.
I purchased Airstory as part of an AppSumo detail a year ago. It’s changed a bit since then.
Today, Airstory offers a free web-clipper for Chrome or Firefox.
When you come across an interesting piece of research, clip it into your Airstory library and tag it.
Later, when writing a newsletter or article in Google Docs, drag that clipping with a citation into your document. It’s a little like Evernote although faster and streamlined.
Airstory is a useful tool for non-fiction writers who like to capture and cite reading materials online. It’s also a good writing app if you curate content for a newsletter.
Use for: Non-fiction, research, newsletters, curated content.
The Novel Factory
The Novel Factory is writing software for fiction writers.
There are two different versions: Online and Windows Desktop, and you can try both completely free for 30 days – no credit card details required.
It offers a step-by-step tutorial to writing your first novel taking you through scene, character, themes and so on.
I don’t write fiction much these days so I haven’t tested The Novel Factory extensively. It reminded me a Scrivener, but with less complexity.
Use for: Fiction, learning how to write.
Campfire is another type of story planning software aimed at new fiction writers.
It was created in two months by two 19-year-old American college students.
At the time of writing, approximately 2000 people use it. It offers a dedicated app for Windows and Mac. I don’t write much fiction but its word-building feature looked useful. Although the app needs a little work, there’s a clear roadmap on the developers’ website.
You can try Campfire for free for 10 days before a once-off payment of $24.99 for the standard version or $49.99 for the pro version.
Use for: Fiction, story-planning, character creation
As a writer or blogger, research is part of your job.
I spend at least an hour a day listening to great audiobooks on my smartphone that I purchased from Audible, and I listen to two audiobooks a month. If you sign up, they’ll give you your first two audiobooks for free.
(Don’t forget to check out my list of great books and audiobooks)
Use for: research.
Trello is a powerful project management tool that will help you collaborate with others and get things done.
I use this free app to manage my writing, to work with an editor and also to take charge of to-do lists on various blogging projects. You can even use a Trello board to organise chapters for a book.
Head over to the App store to install the free iPhone or iPad app and keep track of your projects on the go.
Trello has a free Android app too. In-app purchase options allow you to access premium features.
Use for: project managing writing projects.
A Final Word on the Best Writing Apps
There are thousands of writing apps, some of which are free, some of which are expensive, and all of which look promising.
I’ve spent a lot of time testing and using these writing apps and blogging tools. I dumped the tools that added no value to this site, and I paid for ones that helped me grow an audience and write better articles and stories.
As you can see there are many blogging tools and writing apps, and each will solve specific problems for you, but your craft should always come first.
Pick a tool or app from this list if it solves a problem for you and then get back to what counts.
Filling the blank page and building lasting relationships with your readers.
Got Questions About These Writing Apps?
If you’re still wondering what are good writing apps, I recorded this short video that reveals my 7 favourite apps based on the above list and how I use them.
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