Tag Archives: writing tools

Mobile scribbling

Apple iPad Tablet Concept Photo Giddy via Compfight

Yesterday I talked about how much I use my iPad these days and it got me thinking about how the iPad has changed how I write. Years ago, I used to write exclusively on my desktop PC. Then I bought a laptop, and began to use that more for “on the road” writing, with editing still done on the desktop. These days much of the quick writing is done on the iPad instead and, after much trial and error, I’ve come to rely on three main apps.

(NB: I still use the desktop – and in particular Scrivener – for anything that requires heavy formatting, organising long documents, and editing. The iPad is just for getting the words down in the first place!)

pages 1. Pages

Price: £6.99

Pages is the most expensive writing app I own and ironically it’s the one I tend to use the least, although that’s more because it doesn’t entirely suit me personally instead of any inherent fault with the app. If you’re looking for a proper word processor, with easy and comprehensive formatting, Pages is for you. You can export documents in Pages, Word, pdf, and epub formats.

Notebooks 2. Notebooks

Price: £5.99

The big draw of Notebooks is the fantastic integration with Dropbox, which makes sharing documents between multiple devices a breeze. You can write in plain text, rich text, or markdown, and organise files into folders to your heart’s content. I’m not a huge fan of the writing environment but I love the organisational functions of this app.

iA Writer 3. iA Writer

Price: £2.99

The cheapest of my three main apps and the one I use the most on days when I just need to get some words down. If you need a clean, distraction-free app, iA Writer is a winner. I’m never going to be doing heavy editing in this app and formatting is a no-no, but it’s still a pleasure to use.

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Beating procrastination

When it comes to actually getting words written, I like a distraction-free environment. Scrivener is my go-to for planning and organising but I need something even more stripped down for really beating my habit of procrastinating wildly (cleaning the oven is a popular way of avoiding something that really needs writing!).

I’ve tried a few programs and websites over the years but these are my four favourites, in no particular order except the first one!

Q10

q10

Cost: Free
Customisable: Yes
Music: No
Standalone: Yes

Q10 is far and away my favourite writing tool. It’s standalone, so I don’t have to be online to work, and I can set it up exactly how I like it. No distractions, no bells and whistles, just a simple, practical typing tool with a handy wordcount feature and a clock so I can keep an eye on the time. Did I mention that it’s free?

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Writer

Writer

Cost: Free
Customisable: Yes
Music: No
Standalone: No

Writer is really an online version of Q10, and again it’s very customisable. What sets Writer apart is that you can download in PDF format as well as plain text, and if you write on various different devices it’s a great way of keeping everything in sync. Again, there’s a wordcount feature but the drawback for me is that I’m online – which means the urge to procrastinate is still there!

Website

 

ZenWriter

zen

Cost: $9.95
Customisable: Yes
Music: Yes
Standalone: Yes

If you’re looking for something slightly more aesthetically pleasing you really can’t go wrong with ZenWriter. It looks beautiful, there’s a choice of music (or you can add your own), and you can choose one of the included wallpapers or use your own. It’s not free – but it’s not too expensive either.

Website

 

Write Or Die

WriteOrDie

Cost: $20
Customisable: Yes
Music: No
Standalone: Yes

I’m not really a fan of Write Or Die, although I have used it in the past and I know plenty of people who use it and love it. If you need to be poked to write, this is probably the software for you. If, like me, you just get irritated and resentful by reminders, this isn’t. It’s also the most expensive program on my list (although still not exhorbitant).

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Writing tools – Scrivener

scriv3

Sometimes you need a piece of software that just lets you write. Sometimes you need a piece of software that lets you plan, organise, and edit. Sometimes you need both and the answer to your prayers is Scrivener.

I’m a big fan of Scrivener. A friend told me about it a couple of years ago and at first I wasn’t too interested – the Windows version didn’t seem as shiny as the Mac version and who needs another piece of software to help them write? I’d tried a few before and generally lost interest once it became clear they were designed to make me write one way and one way only.

Then I tried Scrivener, and became an instant convert.

Just to be clear, Scrivener doesn’t “force” you to do anything or write in a way you’re not comfortable with. It’s hugely feature-rich, but you don’t have to use the features. It works well just as a basic writing environment (especially if you hit F11 for a distraction-free screen) and it’ll compile your finished work into all sorts of useful formats including PDF and epub.

If you decide to explore, however – and I probably use 50% of its capabilities, if that – Scrivener becomes an incredibly powerful tool to help you organise your thoughts and easily edit your work.

scriv2

Those “cards” you see on the corkboard up there? They’re not just a way of organising your thoughts into something like a coherent order. They’re actual files – which means you can easily drag and drop cards to rearrange the order and the words move too. Editing made easy!

I particularly love the “Research” area, where I can create folders to organise different strands of research, mark up exactly what I need to do more work on, and quickly move from topic to topic whenever I need to check something.

Scrivener can handle all sorts of writing: fiction, non-fiction, screen-writing – you name it, there’s probably a template for it. Whether you’re writing a novel or a research paper, Scrivener can handle it. And it can pop out lots of stats for those of us who like to know exactly how our work’s going – and targets too.

You can try Scrivener for free and the full version is $40 (~£25).

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