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The 12 Apps Writers Swear By
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Hannah Berman
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Many of us with extra time on our hands are turning to our writing during these stressful weeks. But any self-professed writer knows that writing doesn't just happen overnight. It can be excruciatingly painful to come up with a good concept and even more so to actually get that concept onto the page in a form that feels acceptable to you. Writing is, on some level, like giving birth: it's a process that lasts a long time, uses up your energy and resources and involves pretty difficult labor, but at the end of it all, you've birthed a little miracle. Still, there are so many obstacles along the way... so how do you make sure that your textual baby comes out okay? This list of apps can help with that problem — from inspirational prompts to editing tools, these apps for writers are the perfect solution to your (writerly) pregnancy complications. 

Inspiration.

1. Daily Prompt

Source: Daily PromptFeatures: One new creative writing prompt (or "Story Starter") every day

This app does exactly what it promises to do. Sometimes, when you're feeling ready to write but just don't have a good enough idea yet, a quick prompt is exactly what you need to get going. Writing prompts awaken your creative side; you might start out by writing about your character trapped on a desert island, but by the end of the time you'll realize something important about that character that will be reflected in the way they interact with others or the choices they make in future stories.

2. Prompted JournalSource: Prompted Journal

Features: Personal writing prompts every day

This app serves up sweet, reflective prompts that will guide you toward writing about your own personal life. This is useful no matter what genre you usually write — if you can't describe what you know best (yourself)  in your writing, it's hard to imagine jumping into one of your characters' shoes. Prompted Journal makes journaling special because it cycles through prompts, allowing you to respond to the same prompt multiple times and compare your answers over the course of months. 

3. Roll a StorySource: Roll a Story

Features: Randomized pairings of characters, settings and problems 

This game is great for kids and writers alike. All you need to do is shake your phone three times, and the most basic components of your newest story will be delivered right to you. If you're struggling to come up with any ideas at all, this goofy app can help you find inspiration — if a scary dinosaur in a haunted house meets a big monster, which character is more afraid of the other? Will the dinosaur and the monster become friends, enemies or lovers? Sometimes all you need to find inspiration is a little bit of random input. 

Planning.

4. WerdsmithSource: Werdsmith

Features: Space to record ideas and work on projects, adjustable reminders to write, portfolio creation, community support

Planning out your writing project is a really important step, especially when you're working on a longer piece. This elegant, mustachioed app exists to help you follow through on your writing goals. When you open it for the first time, it prompts you to write down any big ideas you have, create files wherein to write the text for your projects and establish a writing ritual. This writing ritual setting allows you to create goals for how much you aim to write per day, and will send push notifications in order to remind you of those goals. For writers who need a push in the right direction and would benefit from being reminded to work on their project, this is the perfect app.

5. CoggleSource: Coggle

Features: Tools to create a multi-media mind map

When you're brainstorming an idea, some writers find a visual aid very useful in order to picture how a story might end up going. Coggle allows you to create a mind map, laying out your ideas in a physical way so that you can trace how you arrived at certain conclusions or figure out what needs to happen when in order for the plot of your story to make sense. Plus, after creating your mind map, you'll have it to look back on, which can be nice when you run into issues in your writing — if a scene just isn't working out the way you thought it would, you can consult the mind map to see how changes made to that scene would affect the overall arc of your story or argument.

6. CitationsySource: Citationsy

Features: Barcode scanner, manual bibliography entry

This app is more useful for academic writers, who need to keep track of their various sources in order to be able to successfully move forward and begin writing. Citationsy completes this goal by scanning barcodes and creating automatic citations for your physical media. So if you're working with several large books, you don't have to spend much time collecting bibliographical information from each; instead, download this nifty tool and you'll be ready to write about your sources in no time. 

Getting out of a rut.

7. Danger Notes — Writer’s BlockSource: Danger Notes

Features: Space to write with incentives to keep going

When you're stuck in a rut, the best thing to do is to just block the world out and focus completely on your concept until you've found a solution. Unfortunately, that's much easier said than done. However, this app might provide a way to enable perfect concentration. The app provides a workspace to brainstorm/write down your ideas but with a caveat: if you don't keep continually writing until the timer is up, all the work you've done will be deleted and lost forever. With that punishment looming in the back of your mind, it actually becomes a lot easier to block out the world and focus on your ideas.

8. Creative Writer — Words FlowSource: Creative Writer — Words Flow

Features: Dictionary definitions, suggested word bank 

This app allows you to recycle language from popular existing texts in your own writing. Designed to facilitate a writer's flow, it features a little robot hovering above the keyboard that helps you out when you get stuck, providing words based on textual analysis of books, movies, TV shows and songs when pushed. Each word you touch can be analyzed using the app's dictionary. You can also choose which genre to write within, and the suggested words will adjust accordingly.

Editing.

9. GrammarlySource: Grammarly

Features: Grammar and spell check, tone detector, style help

This rather incredible app manages to analyze your text not just for accuracy but also for tone and style. The technology essentially removes any possibility at all for mistakes, which makes it a very useful tool for any project. In addition to basic grammatical errors, it can spot redundancy and informality and even suggest more sophisticated or specific vocabulary in any given situation. Note: Grammarly is even more useful on the computer, where you can download it as a Chrome extension and it will correct your writing on any document or site, from email to social media.


10. ProWritingSource: ProWriting

Features: Grammar and spell check, synonym finder, translation tool, dictionary

Like Grammarly, ProWriting can find and analyze errors in your writing but with the added bonus of a dictionary and translator at your fingertips. These tools can be very useful when going through the editing process of an academic project since you never know when you'll need to define a word or translate something from another language; ProWriting exists to solve those stressful moments.

Sharing/connecting.

11. MediumSource: Medium

Features: Community of writers, possibility of monetizing your work

Medium is one of the best apps for writers out there right now. It has a beautiful aesthetic, gives you a suitable place to put your work and allows you to interact with other writers' work — when you read someone else's story, you can "clap" for it, thereby praising pieces you find impressive and putting a smile on someone's face. This app is also one of the only writers' apps that refuses to allow advertisements, which means that the content you see is purely what you want to be seeing — with no hidden agendas — and that the app is designed for the enjoyment of real people, not to manipulate us into spending money. 

12. Story WarsSource: Story Wars

Features: Collaborative storytelling with writers across the globe

With Story Wars, you can collaborate with other writers all across the globe to craft stories together. When someone else has started a tale, you can read through what's already there and simply click to continue the story with your own ideas. There's nothing like finding your people in an online space, and this app allows you to forge writerly connections, having fun all the while.

With tools like these in your pocket, you should have no trouble finding inspiration, planning your project, getting over writer's block, editing or sharing your work. All you need to do is click download.

We’re navigating the new normal, together. Join us for support.

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