Every writer has those bad days when no matter how hard you try, the words just do not seem to come out. Call it writer’s block, laziness, weekend fever, or what you may, truth is such days can be bad for business. More so, when you have a deadline to file and are running way behind schedule.
So, we decided to play Santa early this year and come up with a list of online writing tools that will help you beat the blues and pour forth words like a singing canary pours forth music (too eloquent a simile, maybe?). Either way, do read this list and remember to thank us when you do use one of these virtual helpers.
Yes, everyone knows Grammarly. Like bees to honey, writers of all styles and calibre flock to Grammarly to check their mistakes and rectify them. While there are other grammar and proofreading tools online (and you can even fix the ever-effective MS Word to fix more than just typos), we love Grammarly because it picks out errors that are easy to miss. Plus, it gives you suggestions and detailed explanations which help you understand what you did wrong. The synonym suggestions are by far my favourite because I detest repeating words.
You can either use Grammarly to proofread a document after you finish writing (by copy-pasting in the document checker) or install the Grammarly for Chrome app which will ensure that you never make a typo, ever again! That would mean e-mails, social media, and almost every form of content you write online.
The noted author Ernest Miller Hemmingway said, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” And the aptly named Hemmingway Editor strives to do just that – make a better writer out of you by telling you every grammar error, highlighting passive voice and run-on sentences, and adverbs and phrases that need simplification, and much more. It is a great friend to have on those days when you want to wax poetic but the client brief strictly asks for ‘simple language’, or if you are a budding writer who needs to mould their personal writing style for a larger audience. Hemmingway was known for his economical language and understated style, and this writing tool can assist you in becoming an expert in the technique of succinct writing.
FYI that quote above is sometimes attributed to the actor Elijah Wood at times – whatever the source, the essence of it still holds true for all wordsmiths!
The rules for writing a good headline are clear – short sentence, preferably a question, numbers if it is a listicle and yada yada, but we do not always remember every one of them. Writing headlines is always a task (especially for me!) and one usually finds it hard to switch between the long and short formats. Headlines need to be punchy and eye-catching while giving the reader a clear indication of the content. CoSchedule’s Headline Analyser is a godsend for writers like me who forget rules like a bad dream, and need assistance coming with something that screams ‘Read Me!’.
With this writing tool, you can analyse headline options for SEO compatibility, the tone and sentiment of the words you use, their social relevance and other criteria that appeal to readers. Just five minutes with the analyser, and the results could be mindboggling!
I love long commutes because I can take the time to think about my articles before I begin to write them. Sometimes, I come up with amazing lines that I know I will forget in minutes if I do not jot them down right away. It is at times like these that the dictation app Dragon Naturally Speaking comes to my rescue. It takes a while to get used to, but the beauty of the app is that you do not need to transcribe your rants – the app does that for you! Then, you just run it through a good proof-reader (see above) and voila! you can meet your deadline with time to spare. If you too, like me, spend a lot of time in traffic daily, this dictation app could be a very helpful writing tool indeed.
For Mac users, Apple’s Dictation App works in a similar way.
This is a very unconventional choice for a writing tool, but let me tell you it works wonders! Pluviophiles will agree.
There come days in a writer’s life when despite your best efforts work piles up, and you feel flustered to the core. Rainy Mood calms you down and helps you get down to what you do best – writing. No guitar riffs to take your hands off the keyboard, no lyrics to distract your sensitive brain, no headbanging, no adrenaline. With Rainy Mood, you just hear the gentle sound of the rain as you go typety-tap typing out your pending articles.
This writing tool borrows from the idea that one’s first instinct is always the best. So, the app lets you write without being able to delete anything. The delete button acts as a strikethrough; just like scratching out words when writing with pen and paper. The idea is that by making editing tougher, the app lets the writer focus more on the writing. Ideas take a while to gestate, and even the best of writers say that the only way to beat writer’s block is to just get the words out and not worry about semantics and grammar at the very first go.
With Rough Draft, you do not have a spell checker colouring your text red and green or a bot telling you what you did wrong. All that comes later; first, you write.
This is a great tool to use when creating social media calendars or listing out blog topics for the month. Enter a keyword or URL in the BuzzSumo search and it will show you the most shared related content. You can sort out the results according to time or content formats. There are two ways to look at what this writing tool does: first, it maps out the content that your target audience likes so you can think of similar ideas and gain traction. Second, it shows you what your peers are NOT doing, so you can be the first to put that content on the web and wow your users.
Another tool which is also helpful for generating content ideas is HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator which spouts five possible blog topics for every three keywords you out in. You get more if you sign up. It is like brainstorming with a friend; only your pal is a software and cannot laugh at your ideas.
So much for writing for clients on a bleak day. Here is a tool you can use to better your own writing and connect with kindred souls. Daily Page sends out writing prompts that you can use to unleash your creativity. You can write a short story, or poem, or just use the prompt to further the novel you are working on. Moreover, you can choose to share your work with the writer community at Daily Page and ask for feedback.
Daily Page’s motto is “Become A Better Writer” and the writing prompts and online writing courses will aid in your success. You can also use this writing tool to set up a writing schedule as well.
Got a serious case of writer’s block? Kick it with this aptly named writing tool that is so mean, it will literally erase all your content if you stop typing for more than five seconds! Here is how it works – you choose the amount of time or length of the article you want to write, and if you stop in between the app automatically deletes all your work. There is no way to retrieve it which is where the ‘dangerous’ bit comes in.
If you have a piece to deliver but you cannot focus enough to get it done, then this app could be of help. The threat of losing all your work should be enough to get the creative juices flowing. Expert tip – make sure you have all your data collated and research is done before you start typing. This is an app for distracted writers who are missing their mojo; because it effectively browbeats you into finishing the task. And as always, once you are done you can use an online proofing tool to refine the content and publish it.
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