The Ultimate Writers Toolbox

It’s been a long time since writers were forced to become accustomed to the ‘clickety-clack’ of a typewriter and now with writing on your PC becoming normal, more and more software is being released to make this task easier, more enjoyable and improve the overall quality of your writing.

If you’re reading this you probably have an interest in writing, whether you already write or thinking of taking it up – writing is not only a fun and cheap hobby, it’s also extremely productive and helps enhance skills necessary for everyday life. When I first started writing on my PC I used Microsoft Word to do this, but I quickly grew tired of how many features were in my face when all I really wanted to do was tap-out a short story.

Fast forward several months and it’s been a long time since I’ve had to look at the often over-complicated Microsoft Word on a daily basis to type out an English essay. Instead I have found software suites that offer a perfect place to type out my thoughts. I’ve also come across software that helps me plan out my writing, get it done faster and manage the writing tasks at hand – so read on to find out how you too can get the ultimate software collection for writers on your PC.

Scrivener

Up until recently, Scrivener has been only a Mac only affair – but thankfully the developers have decided to port this great piece of writing software to the Windows side. Scrivener is most appropriate for larger writing projects such as short stories or even a novel but it can easily be used for writing up a quick blog post or a medium length email to a friend.

It contains many templates ranging from proposals thesis’ to screenplays. These templates can basically transform all of the software. For example, if I was to select the screenplay template it would change most aspects of the software; from the font to the justification of the text. Another one of Scrivener’s main draws is how easy it makes research.

The ultimate accompaniment to writing long stories

As I said above, Scrivener is mostly appropriate for longer writing projects (most of which require a fair amount of research). Thankfully, Scrivener provides many useful utilities that make organising your sources, pictures and videos easy.

Microsoft Word

As I said above, Word has many features that go unused and hinder the writing process – but for some projects it just can’t be beaten. In today’s world it would be very difficult to have not used Word at any point – whether it be at school, work or at home and this if for good reason. Whilst other text editors focus on providing you with a minimal interface to jot down your thoughts, Word opts instead for a detailed interface on which all commands are shown to you.

Microsoft Word – The all-rounder

When it comes to coursework and other advanced documents, Word can’t be beaten. Aside from offering an absolutely massive feature set, it also lets you change most aspects of your document – from font to text size and colour. Although it’s hefty price tag may put some people off, when you need it for coursework and other similar tasks – it simply can’t be beaten.

ResophNotes

ResophNotes is by no means a fully featured word processor – and that’s why I love it so much. Rather than advertising itself as a minimal word processor, instead ResophNotes advertises itself as a Simplenote client. Simplenote, for those of you who have not heard of it is basically a plain text synchronisation service that is massively popular. Aside from offering apps on most major mobile platforms, it also contains syncing software for most OS’s – perfect for those of you who are constantly moving between environments.

The perfect Windows Simplenote client.

ResophNotes main draw is, as I said above, the SimpleNote integration. As a matter of fact, I’m writing this whole article in ResophNotes and so if I find later that I have my iPhone and some spare time, I can tap out a few more paragraphs of this article and when I decide to move back to PC editing, all changes I made to the document on my phone will be synchronised. Simplenote is a free service as is ResophNotes and the official mobile apps.

MarkdownPad

Markdown has only gained popularity as of late, but for years it has enjoyed a loyal fan base. Markdown is a basic coding language mainly used for composing documents. When I say it’s a basic language, I mean it. I learned 90% of the code necessary to use it within ten minutes, and I don’t see why anyone couldn’t! For example, if you want to make a header in Markdown just add “##” before and after what you want made into a header, and voila!

A great language needs a great editor – and MarkdownPad ticks all the boxes!

But of course, to use MarkDown efficiently you will need a great client – this is where MarkdownPad comes in. It offers the user an easy to understand split panel interface. On the left panel you enter your text with Markdown formatting, and on the right panel it offers a live WYSIWYG preview of what your typing. Markdown is yet another minimal writing app, but for those of you who like to code (or are looking for a change or challenge) this could be perfect for you!

Q10

Q10 is probably the most popular minimal writing software available for Windows. It strips away all of the extra features that we have become accustomed to in modern word processors and instead just leaves you to your own devices.

The no-distraction approach works wonders for those who are distracted easily.

It basically fills up your whole screen with your own personal word pad where you’re free to express your thoughts in a distraction free environment. It’s a very small download and completely free, both two nice factors to any program!

ConceptDraw Mindmap

Ask any writing aficionado and they’ll tell you that the first thing they do before preparing their first draft is to plot out their writing. Aside from the obvious advantages such as being able to plan your essay out paragraph by paragraph, it also proves very helpful for discovering new storylines and directions that you may want your essay to take.

Perfect for plotting out your ideas

There is probably a huge variety of software that does what ConceptDraw does, but I have had no need to look any further because of ConceptDraw’s advanced tools, simple interface and great looking charts suffice nicely.

Closing Thoughts

Even though Word will be more than sufficient for some writers, I’m sure that others are looking for alternative software. I hope that if you are looking for alternatives (or just new programs to play around with) you found a few above that aid you in your writing quest, whatever it may be that your writing – whether it be your first novel, or simply a new blog post!


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  • Sandra

    Thanks for this list, I prefer mind mapping for writing and found ConceptDraw a handy tool for that. Using it in combination with word saves loads of time on editing.

  • Alex

    You’ve left out a critical piece of software. Evernote. An amazing application that is automatically backed up online and synchronizes will Evernote for windows, iPhones, iPads, android, web app. It’s similar to scrivener in many ways but it is different. Personally I store all my research on Evernote then write in Scrivener or Word.
    Also, I own Liquid Story Binder and use that for certain projects. You can run it from a USB stick, which has its uses.

    • Valdis

      I’m so agree with Alex, I save bunch of info in Evernote as i think this is the best note taking free app so now i can copy all the stuff to ConceptDraw Mindmap and send my topics to Evernote.

      I’m now on my phd and these programs help me to keep structured all the information i should collect for my research. I save any part of a mindmap, including topics, branches, and entire maps to Evernote, for instant access on any device. This means that my mindmaps can be accessed from most smart phones, tablets and computers. ConceptDraw Mind map is by far the most convenient commercial product for me which work with Evernote.
      I highly recommend both.

  • http://logbuch.rat-und-tat-marketing.de Birgit Schultz

    For those on a tight budget I recommend XMind for mindmapping. Same as with Alex and Valdis I could not live without EverNote and highly recommend that, especially for writers of historical fiction (and others with lots of research to organize). While it is true that Scrivener organizes your research, too, it is not half as versatile as Evernote is for this task. For writing, Scrivener is definitely superior.

    As an afterthought I would also recommend WriteMonkey, which in contrast to Q10 is being still developed and has a very friendly and responsive programmer.

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  • T. Bennet

    I am looking for a project management solution that integrates mind maps, process flows, timing schedules. I’ve tested ConceptDraw on the advice of Ruairi and I am very impressed with it, as it helped me when I’ve started my new position. I am able to import and export to MS Word, MS Project and Evernote. I use mind maps and brain storm a lot and when I write an article I need to be able to easily migrate from Mindmap to Word and backwards to analyse all the parts of the story.

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