Inspiration is vital for writers and, thankfully, these days you can find it in abundance, especially following a little help from technology. A huge variety of mobile apps exist simply to support the busy wordsmith, with all manner of tools available for assistance with writing, editing, drafting, plotting, note-taking, and researching. This is matched by the vast expanse of information available on the internet, some of which has been created to assist writers through detailed online resources. It’s a very privileged position compared to the quills, pencils, and constant library visits of yesteryear, so to celebrate here are 20 of the very best inspirational sources to help you craft the perfect piece of writing.
The mobile phone/computer devices which aim to make your life more fun and stress free rarely let you down. The following 10 apps should prove to be highly useful in any writer’s collection of inspiration tools.
Apple’s Pages is a powerful word processing app designed for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. It combines with iCloud storage so you can write, view, and edit your documents across all devices. Along with writing straightforward text documents there is a choice of 16 templates for drafting letters, reports, and designing flyers, cards, and posters.
Documents created in Pages can be shared with your readers, clients, and publishers by exporting as Pages, Microsoft Word, or PDF files.
This one’s aimed at the iPad and designed with a compact, minimalist aesthetic so you can focus on creating texts free from distractions. In full screen mode you are presented with no status bar and no file name – just your clear clutter-free text as if you are writing on a blank sheet of paper. Clean Writer indeed!
Write is a text editor app designed for Android tablet devices. This app is not aimed at word processing; instead it is a text editor for note taking and journal writing. The texts you create within Write can be exported as HTML for editing in other applications (such as Word), or the texts can be easily exported to email, or uploaded onto blogs and WordPress websites. In this way the app is perfect for recording your thoughts on the go and using them in later drafts of your writing.
The Advanced English Dictionary and Thesaurus emerged from research conducted at the Cognitive Science Laboratory at Princeton University, New Jersey, USA. The comprehensive lexicon contains 140,000 entries, 1.4 million words, and an innovative format providing dictionary definitions. It also demonstrates how words link together, presents synonyms, antonyms, and examples to illustrate word usage. This approach means you can find the meanings of words, discover alternatives, and learn how different words relate to each other.
Here we have a note-taking and archiving app perfect for writers to record research notes, thoughts, pieces of text, photos, web pages, scans, and audio. Evernote works across a variety of devices and operating systems so you can record drafts of texts in note form before re-editing in a word processing application. Among the many great features of Evernote is the ability to archive your notes and search for them, so that all-important thought can be found and worked on later.
Chapters is another useful note-taking app which allows you to have multiple virtual notebooks. This means you separate your projects into individual books and chapters, which is perfect for collecting information and notes for your writing work; you can also add photos, make notes searchable, plus it’s easy to back-up your notes and export them as a PDF for editing elsewhere.
A note-taking app similar to Chapters, but aimed more at keeping an ongoing diary in a simple and accessible journal format. The compact design for Chronicle means that you can write on your iPad without distraction and indulge in the creative process of writing. Your journal entries are searchable and can easily be exported to a website or word processor application.
Information Architects present iA Writer, a minimalist writing app designed to “bring back the pleasure of writing” to iPads and iPhones. The interface features a mono-spaced font against a grey background and no settings or preferences menu. While some may complain the lack of settings means the app can’t be personalised, this is actually one of the key features of the app’s concept – the focus is purely on writing.
iA Writer syncs betweens iPhone, iPad, Mac and iCloud storage so you can access and export your writing from multiple devices and locations.
Clearly this app is aimed at providing a distraction-free writing environment for novelists and freelance writers. Originally it was a popular piece of software on the iPhone and iPod, but now My Writing Spot has now undergone a complete redesign for writing on the iPad. Handily it twins up with a free online account so your text can be synced and stored with password protection.
Urban Dictionary rounds off this selection of apps! It’s the official app version of the popular website which provides definitions, descriptions, and examples of slang and cultural words from the modern lexicon. It’s a fantastic way to discover just what exactly BTW, FYI, NSFW, YOLO, LOL, and many more all mean.
The internet has changed the world over the last decade, and largely for the good! The 10 websites listed below are a mixture of the finest online databases and resources, all of which can help your writing reach new levels.
Dictionaries, thesauruses, and encyclopaedia in their paper form have been essential tools for writers for centuries, but now it is possible to have an enormous wealth of language and information resources at your finger tips with The Free Dictionary. The website’s comprehensive dictionary is presented in English, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish, along with medical, legal, and financial dictionaries. To add to this there’s also an extensive list of abbreviations and idioms, encyclopaedia, a literature reference library, a search engine tool, and access to Wikipedia. In addition to this fountain of knowledge, The Free Dictionary also presents words, articles, and quotations of the day along with word-related games such as Hangman and a spelling bee!
Daily Writing Tips provides a daily dose of advice on grammar, vocabulary, and spelling. The blog is particularly helpful for freelance writers working in digital and business contexts with guidance on crafting clear, intelligible writing, along with tips on topics such as captions and writing for specific audiences.
Oxford Dictionaries are referred to as “the world’s most trusted dictionaries,” and they’re represented online with an extremely useful website providing complete dictionary definitions, along with a variety of other helpful resources, including the guide to Better Writing.
Grammar Guru Mignon Fogarty presents her award-winning writing website Grammar Girl which is full of “quick and dirty” tips on achieving better writing. The site is full of useful advice on grammar, word usage, spelling, punctuation and style guides. Grammar Girl is friendly and irreverent, strong on modern writing contexts, and users can subscribe to a newsletter and submit grammar and language-related questions.
This is a web-based educational resource designed to teach copywriters how to produce superior online texts for content marketing, avoid writing webpage filler, and instead create valuable, attention-grabbing content. Copyblogger provides a regularly updated collection of articles about writing great content, a free 20-part internet marketing course, and an ongoing e-mail newsletter provided free of charge to subscribers.
Google Drive, formerly known as Google Docs, can be a very beneficial tool. Firstly, as many people work across multiple devices – from desktops and laptops to tablets and smartphones, and in multiple locations – Google Drive allows you to access and edit your writing wherever you are and whichever device you are working on.
Secondly, Google Drive allows you to share your writing across the internet. This provides a method for presenting drafts and finished pieces to clients and publishers and also allows multiple users to access, edit and contribute to documents. This has a great deal of potential for collaborative writing projects, with two or more writers bouncing ideas off each other, sharing their thoughts, and collectively editing and refining texts.
This is a rather excellent online project management app with the potential for collaborative writing. Multiple users can write together, collaborate, and edit documents, brainstorm ideas, write press releases, contribute to blog posts and company newsletters, and write collectively on practically any type of writing. Basecamp‘s a very handy business writing tool, then.
Peter Bowerman is a veteran commercial writer and author of books explaining how to succeed as a freelance writer. His website contains numerous resources related to surviving and thriving as a commercial writer including his Well Fed Writer blog, which presents an ongoing series of thought-provoking articles that explore the life, trials and benefits of working for yourself as a freelance writer.
And finally we have Goodreads, the site being a tremendous way to share recommendations and reviews of books and authors you love. You can discuss literature and promote ideas whilst connecting with like-minded people. Of course, one of the best ways to improve your writing is to read lots of good literature, so with recommendations from fellow writers you’re onto a real winner here.
Love this article? Share it with your friends on Facebook