When it comes to writing (or any creative practice really), having a top notch toolkit to rely on helps IMMENSELY.
Today I want to talk specifically about those online tools that can make the experience (as well as the output) that much better.
For capturing ideas on the go, Evernote is my No. 1. I have the app downloaded on all my devices (which can be synced), making it so so easy to dip into those notes I made on the bus.
I tend not to use Evernote for writing out all my copy, it’s more of a place for my lists, random ideas, and braindumps that “come to me” when I’m doing something else. The Evernote Web Clipper is also really handy for swiping online content that sparks an idea.
If you’re the type that prefers to dictate your ideas, rather than write them down, Evernote has that function too. It’s like win/win/win.
Although my first draft always gets knocked out on paper, everything gets typed up at some point, and the place for that is my Google Drive. This is probably the only “can’t live without” of my online tools.
Google docs are free, nice and clean looking, and pretty user-friendly. Oh, and backed up by The Internet. That’s my main thing – if my website collapses, or my desktop dies, I’m safeguarded. I’ll have full access to a library of my own content AND all my client work.
Google docs are also great for collaboration:
- You can have live chats within a single doc
- Multiple people can work on a document at any time
- You can add (and reply to) comments – perfect for if you’re looking for feedback from your team
- You can “suggest edits” – I use this function whenever I’m editing copy for a client
Library of content = peace of mind. Click & Tweet!
Whenever I’ve run writing workshops in the past, grammar worries have always popped up in the Q&A. Every. single. time. And while that sentence (and this one, for that matter) highlight something of a disregard for good grammar, it is very important. In this day of conversational writing, a new set of rules has appeared, but the basics? Set in stone, baby.
Grammarly is a nifty little plug-in for your Chrome browser. It gives any written content a once over for 100 or so of the most common grammatical boo-boos. And yes, that means all blog posts, all social media updates, and all emails as well as any documents you wish to upload directly.
As warranted by my profession, I have a pretty good eye for grammar, but even I like to double-check my content – especially if it’s a large-scale client project I’ve been staring at for AGES. Sometimes our eyes just see what they want to see.
This app is just a beauty. I wish all those word-vomiting content creators would check it out. You can type straight into the web editor (or the desktop app if you’re willing to part with $9.99) and it colour codes your words, offering tips to make your writing simpler and more powerful.
Looking at some common red zones (including sentence structure, word choice, adverb overload and the use of passive voice) it really can help you transform clunky, convoluted text into something delightful. Perfect for if you’re not a natural writer, or if you’re stuck writing about a topic that doesn’t particularly inspire you.
Most “how to be a better writer” articles promise that reading a lot will get you there (check out this one, this one, or this one if you don’t believe me!) Hey, I totally agree. Or at least, that’s how I justify the hours spent with my nose trapped in a book… despite my true and abiding love for those dusty tomes, kindles (or just the kindle app) offer some fantastic features for upping your writing game.
First off, the in built dictionary is really useful. Hold down your finger on any word for an instant definition – a really handy way to build a better vocabulary. You can also highlight useful quotes and add notes to any section of any book – perfect for collecting fodder for your own writing (and something I’d never be able to do to an actual book).
Trello is a really flexible notice board style tool that can be used for any kind of planning project. I’ve seen a lot of really creative ways to use Trello to benefit your content creation – my friends Gemma Went and Erica Lee Strauss love it (for project management and as an editorial calendar, respectively).
My approach is slightly different. Modelled somewhat on Brian Cervino’s approach, I’ve developed a system to track the status of the various writing projects I have on at any given time. It can be really helpful to have everything “at a glance” and that’s something that Trello does really well.
Build your own toolkit of online goodies for copy that kills!
So this is my little stash of digital resources, for whenever I need that bit of back up. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive, but all really effective.
Which online tools do you fall back on?