Last week, I launched a new site I’d been working on for several months, dedicated to technology and the writing life. Since I’ve been eating, drinking, breathing, and sleeping “writing” all week, it seemed natural to pull together some of the tools, sites, and Lifehack.org tips I know of that can help make writers more productive, organized, and creative.
Note: Maybe you don’t consider yourself a writer. Chances are, though, that you have to write — papers for school, memos for work, presentations for potential funders, grants for your organization, posts for your blog, and so on. I’m pretty sure you’ll find a lot of useful information below, whether or not you officially call yourself a “writer”.
10 9 Free Apps Every Writer Should Consider
q10: A cool, minimalist full-screen text editor that includes a spellchecker and a couple other nice features. (Win Only; Alternatives: DarkRoom, also Win-only; WriteRoom, Mac-only but not free; Writer, online app)
Freemind: Java-based mindmapping software. Great for brainstorming and taking notes. (Runs anywhere Java runs)
EverNote: Capture formatted notes from any application to a single place. The new version (in private beta now) offers online access, too. (A paid version offers niceties like handwriting recognition.)
Zotero: Firefox extension that allows you to capture bibliographic information from web pages, organize citiations and documents, and create bibliographies in Word and OpenOffice. Essential for anyone who does research on the web.
yWriter4: Novel-writing software created by a working writer with writers in mind. Keeps character descriptions, notes, and other essential information at your fingertips as you write. (Win and Linux)
Sonar: Submission tracking software from the same guy who wrote yWriter4. Keep track of markets and submissions easily. (Win and Linux)
Foxit Reader: A super-fast PDF reader. Opens almost every document much more quickly than Adobe Reader. (Win only)
PDF Creator: Open source program to create PDF files from any application that can print. Installs a “virtual printer” under your programs “Print” menu; select it to save as PDF. (Win only)
Enso Words: Provides system-wide spellchecking and word count; simply select text and enter a keystroke combination (“Caps Lock” + s for spellcheck, “Caps Lock” + w for word count, etc.). (Win only)
Update: Sorry, I don’t know what happened to my 10th! I had 10 when I outlined the post, then added a few and dropped a few while I wrote, and… Very mysterious. I could cheat and add Scholar’s Aid 4 Lite, a freeware bibliographic reference manager, but you’d see right through that, wouldn’t you?
10 Online Apps and Services Every Writer Should Check Out
Buzzword: Luscious Flash-based word processor from Adobe. Includes running word count, sharing and collaboration features, and revision history. (Alternatives: Google Docs, Zoho Writer, and ThinkFree)
Luminary Writer’s Database: AN online submission tracker with some social networking features, like sharing markets with other writers (and searching other writer’s shared markets).
WriteWith: An online collaboration environment. Upload documents and assign tasks to different authors.
Wrike: Project management app with an email interface (useful for adding documents and assigning tasks). Useful for information management, too. (Alternative: Basecamp)
Mozy: Automatic online backup of selected folders. Free version allows up to 2GB of storage.
Google Notebook: Online storage for notes and web snippets, with instant capture via a Firefox extension. Organize into “notebooks” and “sections”.
iGoogle: Personal homepage with hundreds of add-on widgets. Create a writing dashboard with notes, calendar, project management info, your todo list, and access to files on Box.net or documents on Google Docs (or most other online word processors). (Alternative: Pageflakes)
Box.net: 5GB free online storage. Offers file sharing and integration with online apps like Zoho Writer.
Jott: Transcribes voice messages to text. Call from your mobile phone to leave reminders, or to send items to over 2 dozen web services including todo lists, blogging platforms, and online calendars.
10 Sites Every Writer Should Bookmark (Besides Lifehack)
Becoming a Writer Seriously: Tom Colvin is a working writer who gives tips and advice on writing, including great in-depth reviews of software and otehr tools for writers.
Freelance Switch: Essential reading for freelancers of any sort, including writers.
How Not to Write: News, tips, and amusements for writers when they’re not writing.
Men with Pens: A great site written by freelance writers. Funny, irreverent, opinionated — and great advice.
PODdyMouth: Everything you could ever want to know about print-on-demand publishing. Writers beware — there are a lot of scams out there, and PODdyMouth works hard to uncover them.
Writing.com: Focused around a forum where writers offer each other support, advice, and critiques, Writing.com also offers an online portfolio, writing.com email, online submission tracking, and otehr services. Some features are paid, but you can also earn points by doing various tasks on the site.
MediaBistro: Membership group for freelance writers with forums, articles, courses, and job postings. Paid members (AvantGuild, $49/yr) also get discounts on research resources like Lexis-Nexis, access to market information, and can even sign up for health insurance, dental insurance, and other niceties often unavailable to freelancers.
Meetup Writing Groups: An online space for arranging off-line events, Meetup has dozens of writing groups in almost every major metropolitan area, and often a couple or more even in smaller towns. Enter your location to narrow the search down to local groups.
My Writers Circle: A forum just for writers, with critique groups, job postings, advice, and general writerly chit-chat.