There's nothing more fun, as a writer, than to go searching for the latest whiz-bang, must-have set of writing tools. (Mostly because it allows us avoid ACTUAL writing.)
And with a proliferation of shiny new writing tools - many of them available on numerous platforms - the choices can be daunting.
Which writing tools are worth the money? Which are a total waste of time?
And which writing tools will ACTUALLY help you get more productive writing done?
So here are 10 Writing Tools I've used - and heartily recommend - every self published writer ADD to their writer's toolbox.
Writing Tools That Every Writer Should Have #1: Scrivener ($40)
I won't try to convince you Microsoft Word is the bane of every writer's existence. (Even though it is.) And I ALSO won't try to convince you that you CAN'T write your epic novel or comprehensive how-to guide with simple word processing programs like Open Office, Pages or Google Docs.
But I WILL say if you plan to do more with your writing then keep it in a journal under your pillow - and perhaps make a dollar or three from your efforts - then it's in your best interest in grabbing the very affordable software, Scrivener.
This manuscript formatting program not only gets your material ready for publication - you can export in .mobi, epub, PDF, word...or any number of formats - but it also provides a simple, distraction-free interface for you to get your writing done.
And trust me, for the $40 or so bucks it costs, it'll literally save you HOURS of energy focused on getting your damn MS Word fonts to line up.
Click for More Info: Scrivener
Writing Tools That Every Writer Should Have #2: Google Alerts (FREE)
If Scrivener is my go-to writing tool, then "Google Alerts" is my absolute go-to research tool. By simply setting up a couple of alerts around specific keywords related to my project, I can get bite-sized chunks of info delivered to my inbox everyday.
And the really cool thing is you can filter it by source, so if you're just looking for "what" questions people ask in Autism parent support forums...you can do it. (Just be sure you make your keywords focused. Google Alerts is a fire hose that works best when laser-focused.
Click for More Info: Google Alerts
Writing Tools That Every Writer Should Have #3: Pomodoro Timer (FREE)
Now you may have NO PROBLEM sitting in your chair and churning out page after page in marathon writing sessions. But, unfortunately, I have all the attention span of a five-year-old on gummi bears. Which is precisely why I use the Pomodoro Tomato Timer computer app.
In case you're not up on the whole "Pomodoro Productivity Cult," it basically goes like this: us human writer-types work best when we schedule our writing in 25-minute chunks. (Which happens to be the length of those old tomato kitchen timers.)
The trick is to break these 25-minute sessions with five-minute breaks. After four of those sessions in a row - approximately two hours - you take a LONGER break. (To recharge the mental battery and see what your annoying friends are sharing on Facebook.)
It sounds deceptively simple, but I've found it to be an absolute productivity lifesaver. (Mostly because it gives me a very specific period end time. As opposed, "just write for the next few hours.")
There are a number of Pomodoro apps out there, with varying degrees of complexity and price. But I've found the simpler, and cheaper, the better.
Click for More Info: Pomodoro Timer
Writing Tools That Every Writer Should Have #4: Evernote (FREE)
There are a ton of "web-clipping" apps out there. (Most of them have hip, cool names that I can never pronounce.) But EverNote is my choice because it's easy to use, it's super stable, and....it's 100% free.
And best of all, EverNote is so universal, that most smartphones will let you "clip" or "share" web content straight from your mobile browser to your EverNote account. (Which is super handy.) There are also a ton of OTHER things you can do with EverNote, such as colloborative creation. But since I write my stuff solo - and generally mistrust all other human beings - I can't verify how this works.
Either way, EverNote is a fabulous tool that will help keep your bits and pieces of creative input organized and ready for use, when needed.
Click for More Info: EverNote
Writing Tools That Every Writer Should Have #5: Google Voice (FREE)
Google Voice has two great applications for us as writers. One, it lets us create a single author contact number, with an area code of our choosing, which can then be set up to forward the call to our other existing cell phone, landline, email, carrier pigeon...or any combination.
But perhaps the niftiest thing good-old Google Voice provides us a simple, FREE transcription service, as each call is transcribed and emailed to you. It's not perfect, and it'll never replace dedicated voice transcribers like Dragon Naturally, but it can provide a quick, on-the-go to capture that creative spark - even if your miles away from your computer.
Click for More Info: Google Voice
Writing Tools That Every Writer Should Have #6: Amazon Book Reviews in Your Genre (FREE)
Amazon book listing pages aren't just a way great to fill up your wishlist, and put a serious dent in your wallet. But they can be some of the BEST, CHEAPEST form of reader focus group data you'll ever acqure.
By browsing through the reviews of bestsellers in your genre you'll get a very real sense of what readers desperately want from the books in their favorite genre - and when they feel totally ripped off by an author.
Now you'll need to slug your way through the 1- and 5-star reviews by insane people. (Really? You're gonna ding the author cos your book didn't load on your Kindle.)
But take a big-picture snapshot of reader's reviews...and you'll know exactly what elements your writing needs to reach a HUGE audience.
Click for More Info: Amazon Book Reviews in Your Genre
Writing Tools That Every Writer Should Have #7: PostSecret (FREE)
Whenever I'm feeling a bit low on the writing inspiration scale, or I just need a creative refresher, my go-to daily muse juice is PostSecret.
In case you're not familiar, PostSecret is a photo blog in which readers send in postcards that have their deepest, darkest secrets written on them. And believe me, there be some deep, dark secrets here.
Some are heart-breaking. Others are bawdy. Many are uncomfortable. But all of them will remind you that deep down many of us carry scars, shame, and unresolved tensions.
And whether you're writing fiction or non-fiction, this blog might just be the perfect bit of storytelling steroids you need to get off your butt and get into your chair. (Just whatever you do, don't use Microsoft Word to write it.)
Click for More Info: PostSecret
Got a writing tool? Let us KNOW in the comments below.