Serious writers are always looking to improve their skills. Even when I read for enjoyment, I am looking at the author’s phraseology, especially the use of similes and metaphors, which are difficult for me to coin. I look at voice and theme development to see what works or doesn’t. I read books in my genre to see how other writers make their books interesting to their readers.
Over the years, I have collected a list of tools that help me become better at my craft. Here are a few of my favorites.
9 free tools that will make you a better writer
- Hemingway makes your writing bold and clear. When you paste in your text, the app color-codes the sentences to indicate readability. It also suggests simpler words, highlights adverbs, and passive voice, and give the word count. Since it is an editor, you can make changes in the app, and then see how the editing improves the reading ease.
- Grammarly makes you a better writer by finding and correcting up to 10 times more
mistakes than your word processor. This editor includes a plagiarism checker.
Note: Do not rely solely on Web-based content editors such as Hemingway and Grammarly. Use these tools for editing prior to sending your work to a human editor.
- Content Idea Generator, the easy way to brainstorm ideas for blogs, articles, press releases, tweets, etc. Simply answer 18 questions to generate hundreds of topic suggestions to write about. You may have to tweak the grammar for the ideas. Once the ideas are generated, all you have to do is supply the content.
- Write Better Headlines This free blog post headline analyzer scores your overall headline quality and rates its ability to result in social shares, increased traffic, and SEO value. I use this in conjunction with the following tool; I try to achieve a high level in both.
- Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer determines the Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) score of your headline.
- Buzzsumo Enter a topic to see what has been written in the past 24 hours, week, month, 6 months, or year. Analyse the content of what is out there, and then create your own, better version. You can also use the tool to find key influencers to promote your content.
- Evernote is a tool to stay organized across all your devices. The free version syncs your phone to your computer.
- StayFocusd is a Google Chrome productivity extension that restricts the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. Once you use up your allotted time, the sites you have blocked become inaccessible for the rest of the day, giving you the time to stay focused on your writing.
- The Author Weekly Planner. This is a basic downloadable calendar PDF that you can use to plan your writing and marketing. Use it as a to-do list or for marking your progress.
Low-cost tools with free trials
- Scrivener offers two 30-day free trial programs for this complete writing studio: one for Mac, the other for PCs. (Normal cost is $40 USD) This is a powerful content-generation tool specific to writers. It allows you to compose, store research, manipulate content, revise, and then generate e-books. It takes training to become proficient with Scrivener. The Scrivener tutorial is free, and training is available.
- Scapple is an easy-to-use tool for getting ideas down quickly and making connections between them. See video. The trial runs for 30 days of actual use: if you use it every day it lasts 30 days; if you use it only two days a week, it lasts fifteen weeks. Before the trial expires, you can export all of your work or buy a license to continue using Scapple. (Normal cost is $14.99 USD)
- Dayboard is a to-do list that focuses on just five items per day. Start your day by writing down the most important tasks you want to accomplish. Every time you open a new tab, you’ll be reminded of your to-dos to help you stay focused on the task at hand. (30-day free trial. Free for up to 3 members.)
As helpful as these tools may be, becoming a better writer is ultimately up to you. Writing quality work is your responsibility.
“It’s not the wand, it’s the wizard.” ~ Duff Goldman
Are these tools helpful? Do you have a different free tool that you would like to tell us about? Please comment.