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12 free tools to help you write better

Writing tools

How much of your day do you spend writing? When you’re not drafting a press release or responding to a media enquiry, it’s campaign planning, applying for awards and liaising with your colleagues.

Writing is definitely an art. And much like painting, drawing, and sculpting, there are many ways to improve your skill level.

Here’s a selection of tools that I’ve found useful in developing and challenging my writing abilities.

1. Hemmingway Editor

Check your content for readability. The app highlights sections of your text that need improvement.

Great for:

  • Spotting long sentences
  • Analyses your usage of certain words
  • Scoring your copy on readability

2. Random Subject Prompts

Gives you a random subject to write about.

Great for:

  • Getting the creative juices flowing
  • Freewriting
  • A break between writing about complex subjects

3. The Most Dangerous Writing App

I hate this tool. But I also love it. The Most Dangerous Writing App is exactly what you’d expect. Set a time, set a wordcount and write. If you stop writing you lose your work.

Great for:

  • Training to write without stopping
  • Getting your thoughts on paper
  • Encouraging you to write fast

4. Grammarly

Prompts you when you’ve made a grammatical mistake. It can be a little buggy on sites like LinkedIn when it analyses slower than you can type and ends up putting your messages in the wrong order. You can exclude certain websites, so it’s still useful. Add Grammarly to Chrome, Word, Outlook and much more. Each week they send you a summary of your writing, which is fantastic until you see how much you’ve written that week!

Great for:

  • Spotting grammar mistakes that other tools miss
  • Reviewing your weekly writing

5. Twitter

Currently Twitter only allows 280 characters for your messages. It’s a real skill to convey your message in a summarised but still powerful way.

Great for:

  • Summarising your messages
  • Training to write less
  • Thinking harder about the most important factors to communicate

6. Medium

A good writer is often well-read. Read all the content you can and analyse the writing styles of others.

Great for:

  • Learning best practice
  • Throwing best practice out the window

7. Google Docs

Collaborate on documents. Often you’re not the only person working on a piece of content. See amendments in real-time.

Great for:

  • Collaboration
  • Real-time changes
  • Accessing your documents anywhere

8. Background sound

The atmosphere around you when you write is especially important. It’s hard to grow your creativity with people shouting around you. Likewise it’s often hard to think in dead silence. Choose music that helps you feel motivated and encourages creativity. I find film soundtracks to be very inspirational when I’m writing.

Great for:

  • Getting in the zone
  • Blocking out the noise of others
  • Dreaming of Captain Jack Sparrow…oh, just me…

9. Tomighty

Set a timer to encourage focus on a piece of content. Break work into chunks of time where you have complete focus, with break time between the blocks.

Great for:

  • Keeping your eyes on the page
  • Removing distractions

10. Jargon Buster

Avoid clichés. Remove jargon. Keep it simple.

Basically, I’m not even joking but at the end of the day, the fact of the matter is, some of us use too may clichés. Use the jargon buster to check your copy for any of those phrases that will annoy or confuse your readers.

Great for:

  • Keeping your readers reading your content
  • Removing business buzz words that you might be too familiar with

11. Readable

Check your website content for readability. Not just for blog posts, use Readable to review the content across your website.

Great for:

  • Reviewing all of your content

12. Pen and paper

Sometimes it’s best to go back to basics. Get away from the screen and put pen to paper. I love jotting ideas in my notebook before committing to opening a ‘new document’ on Word. A blank page can be more daunting than scribbling on a piece of lined notebook paper.

Great for:

  • Getting away from your screen
  • Scribbling your thoughts
  • Coming back to your ideas at another stage

Do you use any different tools? Please share – I’d love to add them to my personal toolkit!

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