The 16 Best Writing Apps to Boost Your Writing in 2020

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From the Reedsy Blog:

Whether you’re writing an email, a blog post, or a full-on novel, you’ll likely find the task impossible without the right tools. Which raises the question: what are the best writing apps to help you with everything from basic composition to firing-on-all-cylinders productivity?

This blog post sets out to answer that question. 

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Writing apps for creative writing

While Google Docs and Microsoft Word are more-or-less fine, a dedicated writer like yourself deserves something more substantial. Here are seven writing apps designed specifically for creative writing, with various organizational tools to take your work to the next level.

1. Reedsy Book Editor

Price: Free
Runs on: Web
Best for: Authors seeking a web-based, budget-friendly writing and formatting solution

The Reedsy Book Editor is a first-rate choice for the modern author on a budget, offering a sleek interface and easily navigable formatting options. You can drag and drop chapters, insert images, and even track changes and look at past versions of your work — a function that even many paid creative writing apps don’t possess.

You won’t find story templates here, but we think the formatting options more than make up for it. The RBE enables you to create intricate front and back matter for your book and export it as a clean, professional file that can be uploaded to any ebook retailer immediately. If you’re looking for an all-in-one writing and formatting tool to help you publish your book ASAP, look no further than the Reedsy Book Editor. You can check out the RBE for free right here.

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3. Ulysses

Price: $4.99/month or $39.99/year subscription
Runs on: Mac and iOS devices
Best for: Writers who want to productivity-hack their formatting

At first glance, Ulysses looks a lot like Scrivener, but closer inspection reveals that they cater to different experience levels and interests. While Scrivener is known for its steep learning curve, Ulysses offers several tutorials alongside its features. This is especially useful because Ulysses uses “Markdown” rather than manual formatting — for instance, in Ulysses, you’d type # to create a header, or > to create a blockquote.

While it may seem inconsequential now, writers who familiarize themselves with Markdown will likely find that it helps them keep their “flow” during a writing session, and it also makes editing much easier. Other than this, Ulysses is a fairly standard writing app; it’s not as outline-friendly as Scrivener, but you’ll have no trouble staying organized with keyword labels, split view capability, progress tracking, and all your projects lined up neatly in the sidebar.

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5. yWriter

Price: Free
Runs on: Windows
Best for: Authors who like to break their stories into bite-sized pieces

Pivoting to the non-Apple side of things, we have yWriter, an app designed for Windows in a similar vein to Scrivener. yWriter boasts a well-organized interface that divides your story into scenes rather than chapters, which is less stressful for easily intimidated writers. This app is also great for tracking your progress, with features like a storyboard to review your narrative arc, and reports you can generate about your daily word count, the state of your draft, etc.

But perhaps the best thing about yWriter is that it’s a free writing app — astounding in light of all it provides. The only “missing” feature is story templates, which experienced writers can disregard anyway. However, we’d caution users not to disregard yWriter’s intended platform, as the Mac trial is pretty glitchy and unreliable.

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Writing apps for editing

All writing is rewriting, as they say. If you’re ready to take on the “rewriting” stage of your project — or if you prefer to edit as you write, either because you’re a perfectionist or you just want to save yourself the work later — these five apps will let you revise to your heart’s content.

8. Grammarly

Price: Free
Runs on: Web, including browser extension
Best for: Writers who want to carefully check short pieces, such as articles and emails

Grammarly is the writing world’s go-to spelling and grammar checker outside of standard word processors. Like any good editor, it underlines the errors and weak phrases in your writing — but Grammarly also goes above and beyond by providing a label and detailed reason for each correction, so you’ll actually learn from your mistakes

On top of these notes, Grammarly has a number of nuanced features to ensure your writing accomplishes exactly what you want it to do. You can “set goals” in terms of your audience, formality level, and tone (happy, confident, urgent, etc.) and analyze your text for factors like clarity, engagement, and delivery.

All this makes for a very well-rounded writing experience. However, we will say that Grammarly, with its goal-oriented interface and meticulous suggestions, is better for short-form copywriting than long-form storytelling.

So if you write a ton of emails, Grammarly could be perfect for you! But if you write books, you might benefit more from the tools to follow.

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12. NaturalReaders

Price: Free
Runs on: Web, Mac, and Windows
Best for: Writers who need fresh eyes — or rather, ears — for editing

Reading one’s work aloud is a great way to catch awkward phrasing and typos. But what if you’re already so accustomed to your own prose that, when reading to yourself, you skim right over these issues?

That’s when you can turn to NaturalReaders, the best text-to-speech reader we’ve found this side of an actual person. To use it, simply copy/paste your writing into the text box, choose a voice and reading speed, and follow along with the magnified text at the bottom. You can pause, rewind, fast-forward, and change the other settings at any time; it’s all incredibly easy and conducive to comprehension. (Just make sure you’re actually listening, not zoning out.)

We’d recommend NaturalReaders for anyone with a short piece to proofread, as it may not be practical to feed your entire book through the app. Then again, if you’ve got the time, have at it!

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Writing apps for focus and organization

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15. Evernote

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Price: Free basic plan, $4.99/month for premium
Runs on: Mac, iOS, Windows, and Android
Best for: Multitalented writers who want a single space to collect all their thoughts

Another one of the best free writing apps out there, Evernote takes written organization to a whole new level. With dozens of templates for everything from classroom note-taking to personal planning to structuring a novel, Evernote makes admin not only easy, but fun!

Besides abundant organizational templates — again, all for free with the basic plan — Evernote also lets you tag everything in specific categories, share your notes with collaborators, and even chat with them in-app. One of its coolest features is the Web Clipper, which you can use to save any excerpt of web content that appeals to you. More than anything, Evernote is a work-saving app designed to be adaptable and accessible for all kinds of writers and their projects.

16. Reedsy Prompts

Price: Free
Runs on: Web
Best for: Writers who just need a spark of an idea to get started

Okay, this one’s not exactly an app, at least not yet. But after comparing Reedsy Prompts to similar writing inspiration apps like Writing Challenge and The Brainstormer, we can honestly say it has much more to offer. For one thing, you’ll get five new prompts every single week — and not just on the Reedsy Prompts page, but sent straight to your email inbox. And if you write a short story based on one of those prompts, you could win $50 in our weekly contest!

That said, if you’re not inspired by the prompts of a particular week, you can explore the infinite possibilities of the 700+ prompts that already live on the Reedsy Prompts page. Though you’ll only be able to enter the competition with one of the five featured prompts for that week, we’re always excited to see what our users create… so if you write a story based on any of the available prompts, make sure to let us know.

At the end of the day, that’s what writing is all about: creating something wonderful and unique to share with others, whether it’s an informative article, a personal essay, or a 300-page book. Whatever your writing project, we hope these apps can be of use to you — and indeed, of service to everyone who gets to enjoy your work.

Link to the rest at the Reedsy Blog

Although PG doesn’t generally use Evernote as a tool in his legal writing, he is a giant Evernote fan and uses it to simply keep track of the zillions of interesting things he encounters that he wants to remember, as in, “What was that macro keyboard app you saw sometime before yesterday that does things that AutoHotkey can’t handle?”

(For those who haven’t the slightest idea what AutoHotkey is, it’s an ancient (started in 2003) open-source scripting language that can do just about anything that takes several keystrokes with many fewer keystrokes.)

As a simple example, at the end of any excerpted item he posts on TPV you will find “Link to the rest at the (wherever.com)”. When PG types ltr and then the Space bar, Autohotkey types “Link to the rest at ” and waits for PG to insert the name and URL of the OP. See here and here for more info. (User Warning: It’s a geek thing, better to be privately appreciated than discussed at parties.)

PG just checked and he has over 200 AutoHotkey macro scripts that he has concocted over the years for the purpose of saving keystrokes during his daily activities. As a result, PG has typed more documents than any person under 100 years old has ever created and his fingers feel like they’re still 23 (except on cold days when they’re 49).

If there were only an AutoHotkey open-source project for his back (which, along with the rest of PG’s body, was riding a motor scooter that collided with a car during his college years) PG’s life would be sublime.

2 thoughts on “The 16 Best Writing Apps to Boost Your Writing in 2020”

  1. 12. NaturalReaders

    I just tried it on a scene I’m writing. Oddly, the American (male) voices were VERY “machiny” but the British (male) voices were better (more natural sounding). Wonder why?

    But it’s an interesting alternative to doing your own out-load reading.

  2. The first one, Reedsy Book Editor, sounded like a pretty solid tool, they had reviewed it well. Until I looked at it and realized the blog itself is from Reedsy. So they reviewed all the reading tools out there and included their own two tools on the list in the best?

    Crickets. I hear crickets.

    Paul

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