Sometimes writing your novel takes a little more than a pen and paper or a blank word document. Luckily, there are many, many applications to help you get to the finish line.
There are other places to write than Microsoft word or Google docs. One of these options is Scrivener. Scrivener is a complete writing studio for research, organization, writing, editing, and more. It features a digital corkboard for organizing your notes by dragging and dropping index cards, a split screen mode for multi-taskers, and the ability to export your work to another processor or website for final formatting. Scrivener also gives the user access to templates for screenplays, non-fiction and fiction manuscripts, and ebooks.
Two other options, which are similar, are Q10 and Ulysses. Both offer personable writing environments and contain features like spellcheckers and statistic tracking. They also feature the option of typewriter sounds.
For a simpler version, consider Hemingway. This site will keep track of things like your usage of adverbs and passive voice. It will also let you know your readability score and let you know if there are any phrases which are difficult to read. This application is also great for editing finished works by simply pasting them in.
Another application to consider for editing is ProWritingAid. This will double check for grammar mistakes, over used words, and clichés. It will also help to check for accidental plagiarism and look over your style and transitions. It can even help with alliteration.
One of my favorite applications is Omnwriter. This application lets you pick your choice of calming background, ambient sounds, and color palettes as you write. It is beautiful to look at and leaves you feeling peaceful. My favorite feature is the rhythmic sounds attached to each letter you type. This application is most effective with the use of earphones/earbuds. You can save your work as a text document or Word document, as well as export it to PDF or email.
If you are looking to set a mood through the use of sound, there are many websites that provide ambient sounds. Asoftmurmur and Soundrown both allow the user to pick between a multitude of different ambient noises like rain, fire, and crickets. Rainymood has a website address, but also a phone application with more complex features is available for purchase. There is also a slew of similar phone apps available for free.
There are also full playlists of ambient sounds and soft background music available on Spotify. If you don’t want to shell out for Spotify Premium, you can use the advertisements as short breaks in between writing spurts.
Distraction Blocking Apps:
If you are writing on your personal computer, other tabs can be very detrimental to your focus. For those, like myself, who don’t have the self-discipline to stay off Facebook, there are quite a few applications that will force you to stay focused.
A good option is Cold Turkey. Cold Turkey can block you out of any websites you tell it to, or all websites except for the few you allow. It can even block you out of your whole computer if you want to remind yourself to get some fresh air or go read a book. You can schedule the times you want it to be active and it will keep track of your time. It also provides motivational quotes.
Another, perhaps slightly more intense, option is FocusMe. Similar to Cold Turkey, FocusMe will block websites and desktop applications, while allowing you to whitelist those you need. There is also the option to utilize the popular time management technique, the Pomodoro Technique. This application is serious about its job and cannot be circumvented by restarting your computer. You will be locked out until the time period of blocking has finished. You can even set FocusMe to protect itself from being uninstalled. Better be careful when you are setting your time limit.
For Mac OS only, there is a similar application called SelfControl. This one, too, will not be swayed from its purpose if you restart or even delete the application. The skull on the logo is certainly ominous.
For those who use Google Chrome there are many Chrome extensions which will provide a similar service. One of my favorites is StayFocused. Also, in most browsers it is possible to mute open tabs so that they can’t play alert sounds.
Word Count Encouraging Apps:
Sometimes you need a little push to get you to sit down and put some words on the page. Here are some of the applications I have come across that will encourage you to type, or else!
Write or Die is designed to either reward or punish, depending on if you are meeting your word count goals. There are a lot of different settings for this application and most have to do with a pairing of sounds and visuals. If you are writing quickly and reaching your goal then you are rewarded with positive calming sound and images like kittens purring and the ocean. You can even set a custom reward image so your reward can be your current celebrity crush. However, if you aren’t reaching your word count goal, you are punished by the screen turning a sickening red and filling with things like spiders, crying babies, and alarm bells. There is even an option called Kamikaze mode, which will start deleting your writing until you pick up the pace (yikes!).
A much more friendly word count based application is Written? Kitten! which will generate a picture of a kitten or similar animal for every 100 words written, because who doesn’t love small fluffy animals?
Another option is Fighter’s Block. This application is similar to an RPG styled flash game. You have to reach your chosen word count before your health bar drops to zero. When you win a round, you gain experience points and can eventually upgrade your fighter.
If none of these applications catch your eye, there are plenty more out there. Just ask around and do some searching until you find the one that works for you.
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Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.