7 Free Tools That'll Help Anyone Become a Better Writer Today
The awesome (and scary) thing about being a writer is that you can always improve. It’s why people can sit on a draft for weeks—every time they take “one more look,” they can find a way to make it better.
While it’s definitely a fun challenge to see how long you can keep finessing your work, it’s not always practical. After all, your boss usually doesn’t want you working on that press release for weeks on end while you try to brainstorm the perfect opening line.
Thankfully, there are plenty of resources out there that can speed the editing process up and make you more confident about the work you’re submitting. For today, I went though Product Hunt’s newest Tools for Writers collection and chose my seven favorites. Use them all, and you’ll be a stronger writer faster than you can say, “How did I ever live without these?”
As much as Microsoft Word’s AutoCorrect function annoys us, we must admit to missing those green and red squiggly lines when we’re writing online. Finding our own spelling and grammar mistakes isn’t always easy.
Enter: Grammarly (for Chrome users). Whether you’re crafting a message in Gmail, writing a Facebook post, or tweeting your latest mood, Grammarly helps you catch errors before they go live. In addition, its contextual spell-checker will save you from mixing up commonly confused words, so that you don’t embarrass yourself in that email to the higher-ups.
If you struggle with being long-winded, Hemingway could be a game changer. The app helps you become a bolder, clearer, and more concise writer. Just open it in any browser, paste writing directly into the white space, and let Hemingway do its magic. As the screenshot above indicates, sentences that need different types of editing (think: simplifying the structure or eliminating passive voice) will be color-coded accordingly.
Hemingway doesn’t stop there—it also features a readability meter that tells you how difficult it is to comprehend your writing. If you’re aiming to deliver a succinct message, anything above “Grade Level 10” is, according to Hemingway, way too complicated.
Searching “best writing advice” on Google will, sadly, not always bring you the best writing advice. That’s why Writepls exists. The founder, Mark Marchenko, realized that even though thousands of writing-related articles are on the web, only a few are worth reading. So, to save you time, Writepls selects and sends the gems straight to your inbox.
The articles are currently grouped in four categories, and topics range from personal testimonials like “How I Cut My Writing Time From 2 Days to 4 Hours” to listicles like “The Ten and a Half Commandments of Writing.”
I’m sure you’ve experienced the frustration when you have a word in mind but can’t quite remember it. OneLook’s Reverse Dictionary is committed to making sure that you never have to go through that again. After you search the concept you’re thinking of, Reverse Dictionary gives you a list of words and phrases related to it. And, chances are, the results will give you the word you were thinking of—plus better alternatives.
In my demo above, for instance, I searched up “urge to travel,” hoping to pinpoint the word “wanderlust.” But I found that answer #15, “itchy feet,” is the less cliché term I wanted to use.
5. Daily Page
A daily habit is great, but what’s even greater is a daily habit that unlocks your creativity. And there’s no better way to unlock your creativity than by writing. If you think I’m talking about spending an hour every day to write about some highly debated issue, think again (who has time for that?). No, I’m talking about receiving a fun prompt every morning from Daily Page and answering it in one to two casual paragraphs before the end of the day.
Past prompts have included “describe your worst heartbreak,” “describe three qualities you admire from three different individuals,” and “I messed up…” As you write, you can decide whether to keep your response private or to share it with fellow Daily Pagers. Even if you select the first, you’ll have full access to public responses and can immerse yourself in other writers’ creative answers.
If you’d like to go beyond writing daily exercises and publish your thoughts online, buffalo could be the app for you. I know you’re wondering why in the world we need another blogging platform when existing ones like Medium and Tumblr are perfectly functional (and they are!). But buffalo is different because you don’t see other users’ content or excessive buffalo branding in your post.
If you’ve always wanted to become a better writer and are hoping to build a strong writing portfolio, consider trying it out. This tool is especially useful for any aspiring author who doesn’t have time to create a full-on personal website.
Finally, if you’re serious about writing professionally, check out Reedsy—the marketplace that connects you with the best publishing professionals (think editors, cover illustrators, and marketers) and helps you create high-quality e-books. If you’re an aspiring author and are stuck after writing your first draft, Reedsy provides all the necessary services that will help you transform it into a published work.
Know of other useful writing apps that aren’t included here? Let me know about them on Twitter!
Photo of man writing courtesy of Shutterstock.
A board member of Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs, Kat is either hosting inspiring founders or trekking across cities (Silicon Valley and London, anyone?) to discover the hottest startups. And, when she’s not putting together large-group gatherings for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Kat is planning food excursions to discover the best Taiwanese beef noodle soup in NYC. The only thing she loves almost as much as crafting content as an Editorial Intern at The Muse is studying content as an English Major at Columbia University. Say hi on Twitter @katxmoon.More from this Author