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9 Free Tools to Help You Become a Better Writer

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Writing can be a truly rewarding experience. Helping your characters come to life, creating (or destroying) worlds, getting that one little plot device or line of dialogue out of your head finally, and sharing your creations with other people are all satisfying outcomes of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard more likely).  

But sometimes we get stuck, whether it’s writer’s block, struggling to build a strong plot, or just endlessly scrolling through Instagram, roadblocks can come in many different shapes and sizes.  

When you’ve hit one of those bumps in the creative process, it can be extremely frustrating, but we’re here to help!  This list is here to guide you through all the stages of the writing process, helping you become a better writer.

Grammarly: An Updated Spellcheck

You guessed it, Grammarly is a spelling and grammar checker.  We really like Grammarly for its ease of use across platforms, and the ability to add our own unique words and spellings to its dictionary.  Grammarly is a big step up from the built-in spell checks of browsers and word processors.

The free version can be downloaded as a Chrome and MS Office extension (with a paid upgrade available for more in-depth analysis and corrections).

OneLook: Your Dictionary Database

OneLook is an oldie but a goodie, and a very useful tool for any writer. At its core, OneLook is a dictionary database, and while it does have a small learning curve, once you get used to it all the other dictionary sites will fade away. Using “*” and “?” and other punctuation in place or letters you can find other similar words or phrases using OneLook is super fun, and a great way to build your vocabulary. They also have a thesaurus and a very useful “reverse dictionary”.

OneLook is a free to use website.

Google Drive: A Cloud-based Office Suite

Google Drive consists of several cloud-based programs that are connected through a Gmail account. The word processing program Google Docs is very intuitive and has some added bonuses from traditional word processors. Everything in Drive auto-saves your work as long as you’re connected to the internet, and it is very easy to share or access your work from any device, as it is browser-based, with accompanying apps.  

Access to Google Drive is free with a free Gmail account.

Forest: Grow Trees, Get Stuff Done

Forest is an adorable time management app with a simple premise: grow a forest of trees and shrubs. You set a timer for 15 or more minutes and set your phone aside. If you successfully don’t touch your phone for the time you set, you get a little tree! The goal is to help train yourself through little rewards to stop checking your phone and to get to work.  

Forest is available on Android and Apple devices.

StayFocusd: Practice Healthy Time Management

StayFocusd is a Chrome extension that’s goal is to increase productivity. Set time limits per day for various distracting websites.  After the time limit is reached, those sites are locked until the reset time. Pro tip: set the reset time for just after the active hours so you aren’t locked out for the rest of the day if you reach your limit.

StayFocusd is available for free in the Chrome Web Store.

Coffitivity: Bring the Coffee Shop (Sounds) to You

Coffitivity is a coffee shop or library soundscape service. The three free tracks available are a great intro to the service, and you can listen to them as many times as you want.  If you’re one of those writers who needs the background noise of a busy coffee shop but want the comforts of home, Coffitivity is a wonderful service!

Coffitivity has a free website and IOS app.

Young woman sitting at desk near large window with headphones on working on her laptop.

Noisli: Nature Sounds for Any Location

Noisli is another sound generator, but with nature sounds and white/grey noise instead of music or chatter. With Noisli you can customize the soundtrack through simple sliders for a very wide range of background sounds.  

Noisli is a free website and Chrome extension.  

Draw.io: Create Easy & Intuitive Flow Charts

Draw.io is a simple but powerful flowchart and mind mapping tool. If you use mind maps or flowcharts to plot out your novels, this tool is a very good choice. Draw.io looks pretty basic at first glance, but it’s quite intuitive and very easy to use.   

Draw.io is free and online.

BookBoro: A Neighborhood of Writers & Readers

BookBoro is a community of writers & readers who work together for the enjoyment and benefit of both parties.  Writers share their works-in-progress for critique, while readers get to be among the first to read new stories and discover upcoming authors.

BookBoro is available for free online.

No matter your stage of the writing journey, everyone can use a little help along the way to become a better writer. Enjoy the above resources at no cost to you, and you may find yourself producing quality work at lightning speed!

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