The American journalist Gene Fowler once remarked,
“Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
Make no mistake, though – Fowler was totally lying, and writing is really hard. So let’s enlist the help of our robot overlords in order to make it a little easier.
Today I’ll share 15 apps and websites that might help you become a better writer. Some are huge, multi-faceted programs, while others are more single-purpose and can help with organizing research, planning, gaining motivation, or editing.
If you’d like even more resources to help with other aspects of your education, you’ll find even more websites, apps, and tools over at the Resources page.
If you’re unable to see the video above, you can view it on YouTube.
- Coggle – a free mind-mapping tool that can help you organize ideas.
- Storyline Creator – a mapping tool that’s built around individual characters and the flow of events in a story.
- Evernote – my second brain. Pretty much everything I write starts out as a note here. Here’s another article I wrote with additional Evernote tips.
- Scrivener – a full-fledged application for writing a novel. This is what I finished writing 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Gradeswith.
- Novlr – a new alternative to Scrivener. It seems like it has a nicer design, but fewer features. I found some recommendations for it on the NaNoWriMo forums.
- Byword – a minimalist Markdown editor for OS X. You don’t need to know Markdown to use it… but Markdown is really easy to learn.
- Twinword Writer – a tool with a built-in thesaurus that suggests alternative words when you pause in your writing.
- Write or Die – an app that will punish you if you don’t keep writing. Punishments can range from annoying noises to “Kamikaze Mode”, which starts erasing your writing!
- Written? Kitten! – a more positive take on the Write or Die concept; instead of punishing you, it rewards you with pictures of kittens every 100 words.
- 750words – the name describes it pretty well; this is a site that can help you build a daily writing habit. It’s got pretty cool stat-tracking as well.
- DailyPage – a site that gives you a different writing prompt (e.g. Write about your favorite leader) every day.
- Mendeley – I’m not a grad student, but I’d use this if I was. It’s a free tool that can help you manage research documents and PDFs.
- editMinion – a tool that can analyze your writing and pick out weak and over-used words. It can also tell you if your sentences are too short or long.
- Coffitivity – plays coffee shop noises to give you a nice working atmosphere – a good alternative to white noise generators.
- Brain.fm – a web app that uses AI to generate music that’s supposed to help you increase your focus and attention. The site even has research to back up their claims. I’ve tested it a few times, and while I’m not sure if the music is truly working or just providing a placebo effect yet, I will way that it’s pretty darn good music for working.
By the way, if Brain.fm’s style of music isn’t for you, then you might enjoy my Ultimate Study Music Playlist on YouTube. I add new songs to it often.
Lastly, if you haven’t heard it, you might enjoy the CIG podcast episode where I break down how I wrote my 27,000 word book.
Got other recommendations that I didn’t include here? Share them in the comments!
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The Night Before Essay Planner App: The essential interactive tool for planning your essays
Some of us plan and some of us cram. This app gives the planners among us a new tool to better organize our essays, and the crammers among us a better chance to create quality written work, even if it's the night before the essay is due.
With The Night Before Essay Planner app, you assume control of your essay. You'll no longer flounder about, wondering what to do next or where to start. With this app you will generate a personalized "Plan of Attack" based on an interactive self‐assessment. Then, you can follow the specific, targeted strategies to get a quality essay done stress‐free and on time.
• The only essay‐planning app that offers an interactive self‐assessment, taking your situation into account to provide you with a personalized Plan of Attack.
• Ability to create a new Plan of Attack for every essay you have to write.
• Automatically saves each Plan of Attack so you can review it at any time.
• Allows you to take notes. Automatically saves your notes with each Plan of Attack.
• The Plan of Attack provides strategies for planning, researching and writing. Based on your unique needs, it includes suggestions on things like: how long to spend working on each aspect of your essay, how many references you need, how much research you should conduct, as well as strategies for managing emotions such as stress.
• Easy‐to‐use email feature, so you can email your Plan of Attack to yourself with your own study notes. Simply print and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
• Email is formatted as text‐only — easy to print your Plan of Attack without wasting ink.
• You can give your Plan of Attack a unique title. The title will appear on every screen and you can tap on it anytime to view your essay question.
• Automatically updates your due date with a gentle reminder of how many days you have left to go.
• Comprehensive Essay Glossary: an alphabetical listing of some common, but often complex, essay‐writing terms, with detailed definitions you can actually understand. This helpful tool is included to assist you with the information and support you need to start, endure, and finish your essay.
This app is NEW in 2010 and can be used as a planning tool in its own right or as a companion to the bestselling The Night Before Essay Planner: A Workbook to Plan, Research and Write Your Next Essay.
What people are saying about the book:
This book gives you clear, no‐nonsense advice on how to research and write a great essay. It covers everything you should be taught about researching your topic and writing your essay but somehow are expected to just know. It draws together clear, practical advice and presents it in a concise, easy‐to‐read package. This book is a must for all students wanting to improve their skills and their grades.
—Dr Kirsten McCaffery, university researcher
What a great concept! Many students find the transition from school to tertiary study and work requirements difficult not only because of the higher order research skills expected but also the need for quality time management and planning. All university students should regard this is a “must have” book for all essays and assignments.
—Graeme Davies, secondary school principal
The Night Before Essay Planner is such a great guide to cracking the code of academic writing! It definitely helps to ease the pressure and panic of handing in a major assignment.
—Ingrid Bardon, undergraduate student
Need more help? The Research Den provides cutting‐edge tools and strategies for writing essays. www.researchden.com
You can get The Night Before Essay Planner: A Workbook to Plan, Research and Write Your Next Essay from Australia‟s premier academic book seller The Co‐op Bookshop www.coop‐bookshop.com.au (international delivery available).