Free online tools for writers – part 1

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By Chelsey Krause

There are hundreds of online tools for writers. I began looking for online tools/resources for writers last year, shortly after I started writing my first book. After reading several books on writing and self-editing, I wondered if there were any online resources that I could also use to improve my writing. ♥

To narrow down my search results, I asked myself two questions:

1. Would I actually use this?
2. Is it free?

And the result from all my research led to my list of the Top 10 Practical Writing Tools.

1. Thesaurus.com
Looking for the perfect word? Never fear, Thesaurus.com is here!
I use this every day. It is free and easy to use. Be sure to look at their home page for fun word facts, word of the day, and more.

2. One Look Reverse Dictionary
Have you ever had a word on the tip of your tongue but you can’t spit it out? Type a description or definition into the reverse dictionary, and see what comes up!

3. The Elements of Style by E.B White and W. Strunk Jr.
A free online PDF of this classic book on basic grammar and composition. A must-read for all writers.

4. Writer’s Digest: 101 Best Websites for Writers
A free PDF that lists 101 websites for writers. There are sections on creative writing, finding an agent, publishing, children’s writing, online writing communities, etc. There is a little something for everyone.

5. Helping Writers Become Authors
Articles and videos on anything a writer could ever hope to learn. Learn how to write better characters, how to edit and organise your writing, how to stay inspired, and more. Free ebooks, like Crafting Unforgettable Characters, are available when you sign up for the monthly newsletter.

6. Publishers Weekly
I discovered Publishers Weekly after reading Janet Evanovich’s book, How I Write. She suggests that writers subscribe to Publishers Weekly, which is a “weekly news magazine focused on the international book publishing business”. It offers many resources to interest a writer, such as book reviews, publishing news, and jobs in the publishing industry. My personal favorites are their live webcasts with editors, writers, publishers, where they discuss trends among specific genres.

Subscribe here for their free e-newsletters.

Be sure to also check out their PW Tip Sheet for writing advice.

7. Unstuck
Have you ever felt stuck? Maybe you have writer’s block, or have lost your motivation. Maybe you are a long-time procrastinator. Perhaps Unstuck can help! It can help you to identify what’s holding you back, and how to get around it. The website is fun and easy to navigate. Look at their main page to diagnose the sort of “stuck” moment you’re experiencing, and their advice on how to deal with it. The “Advice” section has a lot of great articles on how to stay motivated and inspired, how to live creatively, and more.
Available online at: www.unstuck.com
Or as a free app on iTunes.

8. Wise Mapping
Are you a visual person? Do you like to map out ideas and use story webs? Wise Mapping may be for you. Wise Mapping is a free, web-based program that encourages you to brainstorm. It may be used for individual, group, or business use. Click on the “Try it! No Login!” button on the main page to see what a Wise Map looks like, and to watch their video tutorial.

9. Evernote
Do you have notes everywhere? Do you have a hard time keeping track of it all? Try using Evernote. A free, easy-to-use app available on Mac, iPhone, iPad, and web that helps to organise your ideas. Sync your devices to keep your ideas together. Use Evernote to write notes, collect pictures, make to-do lists, and more.

10. Distraction Apps
I’ve been here so many times. I’ll sit down at the computer, determined to write that next chapter. And then I think: Maybe I should check my email. How long could it take to check my email? Oh, look at that. Someone commented on my Facebook status. Maybe I should look at Facebook, just for a minute. And then it snowballs into Pinterest (an embarrassing amount of time on Pinterest, actually), and Google search, and then YouTube, and my email and Facebook again, and so on.

Before I know it, its midnight and I haven’t written a single word.
Now, I benefit from the internet. I really do. I find new songs, connect with friends and family, discover new books to read, etc.
BUT. The internet is also very distracting.

Fear not. There are dozens of distraction apps available online.
In general, distraction apps make it impossible (or near impossible) for you to log on to time-wasting sites. Their apps tend to take up the whole screen, and are very basic. All you can do is write.

Here are some great distraction apps to try:


App Name


Compatible With


Cost


Self-Control Mac Free
Q10 Windows Free
Focal Filter Browser ad-on compatible with Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. Free
Yarny Cloud-based web app, can sync with iPhone Free
Stay Focused Chrome distraction app Free
Freedom Mac, Windows, and Android. Not free
Omm Writer Mac, PC, and iPad. Not free
Write Room Mac Not free
Focus Writer Mac, Windows, and Linux. Free, with donate option

Stay tuned for Free Online Tools for Writers Part 2: Just for Fun!

Chelsey Krause is a Canadian nurse and aspiring author who reviews books for Chicklit Club. She loves thrift shops and musty old books stores, DIY projects, and has a serious Starbucks addiction. Check out Chelsey’s thoughts on reading and writing at: www.chelseykrause.com.