Finding a useful author tool can make all the difference to a writer’s life. After all, the best tools help us to do things in a more efficient and effective way. They allow us to focus on our writing, rather than being slowed down and distracted by carrying out tasks in a suboptimal fashion.
To save you the time and frustration of exploring the endless options out there, I’d like to share five author tools that have made a big difference to my writing life. I have no affiliation with any of them.
One of my biggest frustrations as an author is struggling to get into the zone, enter a flow state, and output at the pace I want to. This is often due to the distractions that come with writing in 2018. Non-stop notifications and distractions can really disrupt your creative rhythm.
FocusWriter is a free writing app which allows you to zone in on your writing. Some of the reasons I love it include:
- Minimalist interface to avoid disruption and distraction
- Productivity assistance with writing targets and timers
- The ability to customize your virtual writing environment with backgrounds and sound effects such as typewriter keys
If you usually write in the cloud, and end up getting distracted, FocusWriter could be the ideal solution.
If you’re anything like me, you sometimes write a lot slower than you should. This is often due to me second guessing my writing as I go.
ProWritingAid is way more than just a simple grammar checker. Instead, it offers comprehensive analysis of your writing, allowing you to gain a deep level of insight into your strengths and weaknesses. The free version limits your word count, but otherwise offers:
- Twenty five in-depth reports giving you insight into your pros and cons as a writer, allowing you to learn and improve on the way
- The ability to analyze writing you admire in order to have a quantified way of ensuring your own is stylistically similar
ProWritingAid may offer more features than most writers will regularly need, but I challenge you to check it out. I’m confident you’ll learn something new about yourself as a writer.
Appropriately for an app named after the mastery of brevity, Hemingway is a simple tool allowing you to tighten up and refine your writing. Hemingway is totally free and online. I suggest using it because:
- You can really improve the impact and style of your writing in a couple of minutes
- Hemingway will spot errors in your writing you might fail to find yourself
- Helps eliminate excessive adverbs, overuse of the passive voice, or other stylistic deficiencies
When I first discovered Hemingway, I was astonished at how much better my words sounded after. Give it a go and see if you experience something similar.
One of the undeniable truths in the life of a self-published author is the need to keep a lot of plates spinning at once. Without a watertight system of organization, it’s easy to drop the ball and fail to keep track of everything. I’ve found Trello to be a real blessing in this area because:
- The user interface is very clean and intuitive
- The mobile app is fantastic and syncs up with the desktop service via the cloud
- Trello integrates with other services such as Google Calendar
- Great for tracking all the phases of a publishing project, or even for outlining a new book
If you’re looking for a simple but incredibly effective way of organizing your author life, Trello is the answer to your prayers.
5) Google Drive
I’m always amazed when people aren’t aware of everything Google Drive can do. Truth be told, it took me a long time to join the party myself. After making the switch from Dropbox, I’ve never looked back. The main benefits I experience from Google Drive as an author are:
- Full access to all of Google’s awesome free Cloud apps such as Google Docs and Google Sheets
- Flawless integration with other Google tools, such as Gmail and Android
- Incredibly generous storage for no cost
- Easy to collaborate with people such as editors and proofreaders—I’ve found using a shared file a lot more efficient than emailing back and forth
Overall, Google Drive is probably the most powerful free tool on this list, as it has so much to offer authors. Even if you use a specialist writing app, it’s still more than worth storing and sharing your files on Google Drive.
Now you know my favorite five free tools, let me share with you a way to use them as part of a streamlined, efficient author process:
- Use Trello to plot out your next writing project. Break it down into stages, dividing each stage into a series of smaller tasks
- Set up productivity targets and your ideal writing environment on FocusWriter. Write out your content using the app to avoid distraction
- Run your first draft through ProWritingAid to gain insight into your weaknesses ahead for your second draft
- Use Hemingway to further tighten your drafts as you write
- Upload your writing project into Google Drive to collaborate with your editor and proofreader on the cloud
Hopefully, you now see the potential benefits of using free author tools to improve your writing process.
If you have a free tool you personally love using, or a variation on my step by step process, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Dave Chesson is a book marketing obsessive who has consulted for various NYT Bestselling authors. He shares his latest ideas at Kindlepreneur.com, such as his recent guide to book writing software, and also hosts The Book Marketing Show podcast.