I am sometimes asked ‘What writing apps do you use?'
‘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 as well as blogging tools.
So, on this regularly updated page, you can find a list of writing apps and software as well as blogging tools I rely on for 2019.
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 latest writing apps as a reward.
Please note this page contains some affiliate links meaning I get a commission if you sign up via this page.
The Best Apps and Software For Writing Today
So, do you want to know what are the best writing apps and software that you can use to write articles, stories or even books?
Well, remember that pen and paper worked just fine for William Shakespeare, and you should always put your craft ahead of any tool.
That said, there are several great writing apps and tools that can help you write faster.
Here are the apps and software I've tried, tested and recommend to new writers:
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. This app 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. If you need help, you can learn how to use this book writing software faster by taking this course by Gwen Hernandez.
Use for: writing books and longer-form works
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 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. I wrote a blog post about the benefits of using plain text editors as writing software.
Use for: writing whatever, wherever
Ulysses is a more feature-rich alternative writing app to IA Writer.
For instance, it has features such as Markup-Based Text Editor, keyboard shortcuts so that writers can be faster, a library to organise all 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
I use Google Docs (part of GSuite) as a writing app to collaborate with other writers and editors.
Well, 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.
G Suite also enables me to send and receive emails from the ‘BecomeAWriterToday.com’ domain (bryan[at]BecomeAWriterToday.com) using the Gmail interface and also gives you additional storage for your images, files and more.
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
Final Draft is the default app of choice for screenwriters. I don't write screenplays but I've experimented with Final Draft and it strikes me as an example of powerful writing software with a small learning curve.
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 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
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 2018 Grammarly review.
Use for: checking your work for grammar mistakes
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
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 and Ginger 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.
Use for: self-editing
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 quite useful when you wish to reduce your word-count without leaving out any essential points from your article.
Use for: self-editing
I use iMindMap 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
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.
Use for: dictation
Olympus WS-852 Dictaphone
Ok, so technically this isn't a writing app but a voice recorder or dictaphone can work well with writing software. I sometimes outline articles in advance in Evernote, print out my notes and then dictate these articles into this device. When finished dictating, I upload the file to Dragon Naturally speaking and transcribe it.
This workflow enables me to write while away from my desk or while walking. It's also faster than typing and a break from sitting down in front of a screen.
Use for: dictation
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.
Use for: transcriptions and dictation
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. It works on the web and via a desktop app for Windows. You can try it for free before a once-payment of £24.99.
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 little of the Scrivener fiction template.
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
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.
The Best Self-Publishing Tools (And Services)
Once, you've written your book, it's time to self-publish it.
To do that, you'll need a book cover, an editor and a great title. You'll also need a book that looks great on all devices.
These self-publishing tools (and services) can help you do all of those things.
KDP Rocket is an easy to use tool for researching keywords and popular books on the Amazon story. I interviewed Dave Chesson, the creator of this tool, and he told me “marketing and writing should go hand in hand”.
KindleSpy is a great tool that will help you see which books are selling on Amazon and how much they earn. Then, you can use this information to increase sales of your book.
I used 99designs to find a designer for the cover of my book: A Handbook for the Productive Writer, and I was delighted with the results.
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.
Your book title is just as important as the cover. If you need help coming up with a title for your book, check out Pickfu. For a small cost, you can test various titles and get real-world feedback on what works and what doesn’t.
If you want to find a book editor, proof-reader or cover designer, Reedsy takes all the hassle out of it. When you sign up, you get access to a community of self-publishing professionals that are ready to work with you and on your book.
The Best Blogging Tools
So you want to start a blog.
Or perhaps you're wondering what are the best blogging tools?
In short, start your blog using WordPress and self-host it on a domain you own. Then, you can worry about tools.
Now, here's what I use:
If you’re starting a self-hosted WordPress blog, consider Siteground for your web-hosting needs. They’re reliable and secure, and they will take care of all your technical queries.
To save time, buy a premium WordPress theme that gives your blog a professional look and feel. I use Eleven40 Pro. If you don't like it, Studiopress also offer a number of other quality WordPress themes for your blog.
ConvertKit is an email service built for writers and bloggers.
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.
LeadPages is a drag-and-drop software tool that you can use to create landing pages and more for your blog.
It will also help you grow your email list faster. And, as blogging tools go, it's easy-to-use. I wrote a detailed LeadPages review explaining how I use this blogging tool.
Canva is a design tool for non-designers.
If you're a blogger or author on a tight budget, you can create images for your posts and even book covers for free or for just a few dollars. It takes the headache out of design.
InVideo is also a useful tool for creating videos that many reviewers found useful on G2 Crowd.
Blogging is time-consuming, and so is using social media to promote your work.
With MeetEdgar, you can automate some of your social media work and spend more time writing. It will help you build up a library of and schedule social media posts in advance.
I use this tool to promote new and old blog posts, videos and also to share updates with readers. MeetEdgar also helps me drive traffic to this blog.
Other Apps and Tools
I use these tools and apps for research, to become more productive and, well, to hit my deadlines.
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)
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. 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.
Zoom is a great conferencing tool, but why do you need it?
Well, when you want to talk to blog readers or interview subjects for your book, this simplifies all that. You can even record your video calls and host group calls and online meetings.
You might also want to Zoom has features that also enable you to record your video calls and host group calls and online meetings with readers or blog subscribers.
There are plenty of similar tools, but Zoom’s voice quality is far superior than most free apps and you can clearly hear every word people say during the call.
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.
Steve Martin's Comedy Masterclass
Yes, the various courses are taught by top-rate professionals, it's affordable and you get life-time access to your materials alongside useful lesson notes.
I highly recommend Steve Martins' course to help you develop your comedic writing skills.
In 25 video lessons, Steve Martin teaches you everything from finding your voice to nailing your act. I've taken this class and it's perfect if you want to inject more colour into your writing. Masterclass also provides a number of other writing courses from the likes of David Mamet and James Patterson.
If you want to write comedy, this course is for you.
Ok, ok… this isn't a tool but guest posting is the fastest way to grow your blog.
If you want to get published on quality websites like Fast Company or Copyblogger, I can’t recommend Jon Morrow’s course Guest Blogging highly enough.
Jon Morrow is the former editor of Copyblogger and KISSMetrics.
In this premium course for non-fiction writers and bloggers, Jon and his team will teach you how to come up with quality blog post ideas every time. And Jon will show you how to rise about crowd with your ideas and your writing.
His team will help you pitch editors, get published and turn your new readers into raving fans.
A Final Word on Writing Apps and Blogging Tools
There are thousands of writing apps and blogging tools, 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.
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