Any writer knows that it’s not always easy to sit in front of a screen and bang out the right words. Fortunately, there are apps that can help.
Whether you’re a natural-born writer or someone who writes out of necessity, you have, at some point or another in your life, sat down in front of a blank page and drawn, well, a blank.
For natural-born writers (i.e. people who love writing), there is nothing more disheartening...your soul is screaming to write, but your head can’t find the words. For people who write out of necessity, i.e., for work, there is no option of leaving a blank page—you need to fill it, and fast.
Unfortunately, there is no app that has truly solved the key to writer’s block, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost! There are lots of writing apps that offer the next best thing: a clear workspace so that you can funnel the ideas from your head onto the screen, until whatever project you’re working on is complete.
But which writing app should you choose to help you complete your work? Let’s take a look at some of the factors you may want to consider.
With all the great writing tools out there, you may be surprised that many of them only operate on iOS or Android, not both. For example, Scrivener is available on Windows and iOS, but not on Android. Ulysses and Pages are only available on iOS (iPhone, iPad, Mac), whereas JotterPad and WriterPlus are only available on Android. Then you have iA Writer, which is usable across iOS and Android devices, but not on Windows, and Draft, which is only usable on Windows!
Now, bear in mind, apps that can run on one or two operating systems (as opposed to all of them) aren’t bad, they’re just limiting. But because there are so many options available, iPhone owners don’t usually feel that they are missing out on Android-only writing apps, and Android owners don’t necessarily feel that they’re losing out on iOS-only apps. Most smartphone owners are able to find an app that they like and that operates on their system.
However, if you’re looking for a writing app that can be used without limitations, there are 3 that fit the bill: Evernote, Grammarly, and MS Word. These can be used on all iOS devices, Android devices, and Windows. The trifecta.
Now that you know which apps are compatible with your device and/or operating system, you don’t need to jump and download all of them at once! After all, not all writing apps will serve your purpose, and frankly, you’re a busy person who doesn’t have time to waste on unnecessary trial-and-error in finding the right app.
So first, narrow down your purpose. If you need a writing app for business, not pleasure, you don’t need to cast a glance at the apps geared toward creative writers. (Not that there’s anything wrong with them, they’re just not for you.)
You need, instead, an app that will help you with your business, whether you are a professional writer or simply a professional who writes in order to help his career.
For example, if you are a team manager and you’re brainstorming an idea with your team about publicity for your latest product, you’ll want an app where you can write down ideas, read the notes of your team members, sync everything, and create a plan of action.
Evernote is a great app for this, and Apple’s Pages also allows multiple users to write, edit, and share documents. Draft is another good one, but it’s only available on Windows, which might make it limited for business people who are on the go or who are not all located in the same office.
Apps for Creative Writers
If you’re a creative writer, you don’t necessarily want to share your work, collaborate, or be bogged down with other people’s comments. You are all about the writing, and you want a tool that allows you to tune out distractions while keeping your work organized and coherent. Pretty simple, right?
Fortunately, there are many apps for right-brain people, including iA Writer (iOS and Android) and Ulysses (iOS), which are specifically designed to minimize distractions and provide a clear workspace so that you can write freely and unfettered.
JotterPad and Writer Plus are two additional Android apps that are marketed for creative writers, and why not? They are plain text editors designed to stay out of your way, except for when you need to use a helpful feature like dark theme or word count. In this case, the main difference is that JotterPad connects to the cloud-Google Drive, Dropbox- while Writer Plus doesn’t.
Scrivener is another app that is mostly geared toward creative writers (but other people are welcome to use it also). It’s filled with useful features like familiar text editing, formatting presets, importing, corkboard, outliner, and more. Bear in mind that although Scrivener is available on Windows and iOS devices, you need a separate license for each device you use it on.
Apps for Creative Writers, Business People, And Anyone Who Doesn’t Want to Look Stupid
Believe it or not, even professional writers make careless grammar or spelling mistakes from time to time. They’re only human, after all. Fortunately, apps are not human, and there are some that can catch the mistakes we make before we complete our projects.
Grammarly is fabulous for this; it catches any grammar or spelling mistakes you make, highlights them, and then presents options for the correct version. On Windows, you can download it as a free Chrome extension, so whenever you write an email, a comment on Facebook, or anything online, your mistakes will be highlighted. There is also a separate free version for Microsoft Office and a premium, paid version that catches more complex errors
Speaking of Microsoft...Microsoft Word is an essential program/app for any professional. While most companies provide it for workers in the office, it’s also the first choice for many work-from-homers and entrepreneurs. Sure, there are free word processors available, but Microsoft Word has set the standard for quality with its intuitive, feature-filled word processor, so much so that even Google Docs is modeled on it. MS Word also comes with its own Spelling and Grammar Checker, so you can rest assured that basic mistakes will be caught and corrected.
Just Start Writing
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
- Louis L'Amour, American novelist and short story writer
The hardest part of writing is getting started. Which is why, perhaps, there are so many writing apps designed to help writers of all kinds - apps that can give us some extra motivation to sit down and write. Because at some point or another, we all need a little push, a bit of encouragement, and some cheering on in order to get started. And with the right app, once we start, we won’t stop.