13 Must-Have Mobile Apps for Writers.
Writing has changed since the days of typewriter and correction fluid (remember the little bottle of white-out with the brush, remember how strong it smelled, how fast it dried, how fun it was?). Pen and paper have been replaced in many fields by smartphones, mobile devices and laptops. But until recently it never occurred to me that more than just writing could be aided by technology. While I know oh-so-well that there’s an app for everything (food allergy symptom tracking? Yup. Essential oils? Yup.), I never thought to look for writing apps. When I did, game change. Below are some of my favorites, which, if you give them a try, may become your favorites too.
#1 Scrivener, oh beloved Scrivener.
I type this very post in Scrivener, wherein in one large project I keep all my research and blog posts. I have another project for all my picture books. And each novel has a project all to itself. I cannot express in words my adoration of Scrivener, of all it does and can do. And now that it has (finally!) a mobile app, well, Scrivener, will you marry me?
#2 BeFocused Pro
is so Pavlovian it’s not funny. The premise is this: you set a timer for 20 (or so) minutes, work like a fiend, then set a timer for 5 minutes and take a break (or check Facebook or whatever). Every few cycles you get a longer 15 minute break. It really is that simple. And it really is effective. I don’t always need it - only when I’m feeling scattered with too much to do (which would be always, so, hmmm.) - but when I use it, I’m super productive. Like crazy super productive.
is seriously the best way to edit a manuscript on the go. How it works: imports your story as a PDF, then allows you to draw on it, scribble, take notes, sketch, whatever you could do with paper. Except without the paper! I do find it has trouble importing long documents. Anything over one hundred pages or so I'll convert to PDF first, then open in app. I annotate my critique group’s manuscripts here, sign documents (and fill them out), everything. For those of us who still like to make notes in margins, the perfect app.
is my go-to note taking app. When inspiration strikes, be it a picture book idea, someplace to call for promotion, or an awesome line of dialogue (like when watching Clone Wars because the screenwriting is just that good), the app is ready. I used to jot these thoughts in notebooks or scraps of paper. problem being, I'd lose the paper, and once I flipped to a new page in my notebook, all the previous notes would be forgotten. Or I'd sit down to work and realize the right notebook was in the car or my bag or etc. Unavailable and unhelpful. Now my notes are available no matter what device I'm using. This app syncs seamlessly, has iPhone and iPad and MacBook versions. I assume since it's Microsoft it has non-Mac versions as well, but I don't actually care (get a Mac, peeps).
#5 Day One
is a journaling app (I have an older version) that is simple, clean, easy. I often use this for rough drafting, ranting about things that may or may not become posts, take notes on books I’m reading, keep track of funny family stuff I don't want to share on social media. What’s nice is I can email myself entries for easy blog import, and can easily journal in response to an article, book, anything really. I can also voice-write, which is great when I’m driving or don’t have my notebook handy.
keep me sane and organize, as much as any app can, anyhow. You know all those articles you run across online, the “I'll read it later” or “I'll need this later” sort? Yes? I used to email myself links and forget about them forever. Now I can stuff them in my ‘pocket,’ complete with labels for easy reference! Not that I look at them again. But I could, so there’s that. And Feedly is just a super great place to aggregate all the content I might want to read. I follow a few blogs, a few news feeds, and it’s easy to do a quick skim, or send an article to Pocket straight from the app when I want to take a deeper look. I can also share on social media direct from Feedly (or Pocket), so my Twitter feed has never been happier.
Why not Evernote? One simple reason: subscription. I find subscription apps to be tacky (greed much?) and have yet to find a subscription app that can't be replaced with something else that doesn't charge my credit card month after month after month.
#7 Writer’s App
is one I’m not using now, but I probably will soon. I plan to use it to keep track of characters for some larger works.
#8 Index Card
is one of those apps I keep around because the moment I delete it, I know I’ll wish I had it back. I use it primarily for organizing lectures and presentations, but I have used it for novel or even picture book writing. Now that Scrivener has a mobile app Index Card may be redundant. Jury’s still out.
is a great way to track your reading. It also has potential for promotion and social networking. My main use for it: keep a list of books I want to read or am reading because I'm seriously that forgetful. Especially library books and ebooks. I just logged in, in fact, to take the screenshot and realized I had forgotten all about two current reads, which I'm sure are back at the library by now. Back to the Want to Read shelf they go.
seriously saves my sanity. When my preschooler is watching videos on my iPad on the floor under my desk (or in the soft chair, still in the same room), I can drown Dora. I mean drown out Dora with non-invasive background noise. Coffitivity provides background noise. That's it. I think I can also play music through it but I haven't tried. The murmur of voices, clattering cups, laughter and chatter (none distinct enough to make out words) aids concentration like nothing else. Plus I don't have to think about what sort of ‘mood’ I'm writing, to attempt to find music to match.
#11 Nature Sounds
is another white noise provider. I do find it bugs up my phone, though if I’m not in the mood for coffee shop sounds, this helps. Pandora, Halloween Radio (for the “scream” track!) and many others will also provide that background hiss fix needed to keep my focus on my work and off whatever XBox, Netflix, Nerf war is going on elsewhere in the house.
is a blogger must-have and makes making images so quick and easy it’s actually fun. Which is saying a lot! Plus it’s available for iPad/iPhone so I can make blog graphics on the go. Huge time saver.
is my final pick, just because it’s fun. It hasn’t been very useful (since the random wheel-spin just isn’t how I write), but who doesn’t love spinning wheels and seeing what crazy concoctions come up? Really, I sort of feel like I would be cheating if I put a Brainstormer-created creature in a book, but who knows? Maybe my story needs a flaming firefly lion?
So there you have it, my fave writing apps! What are your favorites? Share in the comments below!