In my never-ending quest to become a better writer, I periodically discover new resources that teach me the skills and industry info I need to improve. In past posts, I’ve shared my favorite books, magazines, newsletters, and podcasts. Today, I’m sharing my favorite apps for writers to help us all squeeze in a little more writing wherever we go.
Each year, Writers’ Digest announces its list of 101 top websites for writers. And every year I think, “Wow! These look like great resources.” Then I set the magazine down, and that’s the end of it. But this year, I downloaded a handy little app called Feedly that lets me subscribe to all these awesome websites and automatically get their updates. The app lets me organize sites by category, so I can keep all my writing sites in one folder and pull them up whenever I need a little inspiration or a kickstart.
I’ve had a Twitter account for years, but I just followed a random assortment of friends and acquaintances who honestly weren’t that interesting, so I never checked Twitter. I recently decided to focus my use of the app on writing, and it has blossomed into a fantastic resource. Many writers, agents, and editors use Twitter regularly, and alongside interesting tidbits about the writing life, book news, and advice, I’ve discovered connections among writers I know, writers I admire, editors I’ve heard at conferences, and agents I intend to meet at upcoming conferences. As a result, I’ve gotten a better feel for how the YA writing community fits together and how I might plug into it. Who knows, maybe soon I’ll quit lurking and try tweeting a bit myself.
I’ve posted before about how Scrivener has transformed my writing process. But in the years since I switched to Scrivener, my writing needs have changed, and I’ve been longing for a mobile version of the fantastic writing software. The good folks at Scrivener keep hinting that it’s coming, but there’s no news about when, so in the meantime, they recommend using the “sync with Simplenote” option as a patch. Simplenote is exactly what it sounds like—a simple app that allows you to take notes, much like the one that comes preinstalled on most smart phones and tablets. But Scrivener has an option that allows me to choose individual documents to sync with Simplenote, and those are then available on the Simplenote app on both my phone and tablet. The system is far from perfect, since I’ve yet to figure out a way to put the documents in any kind of order (please respond to this post, if you know how), but it does allow me to write and edit when I am away from my computer without having to transcribe everything I’ve done once I get back to my computer. It’s especially useful now while I’m revising because it allows me to sync changes I make to a file across all three (computer, tablet, phone) devices.
I’ve mentioned podcasts before, but I use my podcast app so much that I didn’t want to leave it off this list. I just use the one that comes preloaded on my phone, and it’s been great for keeping up with all of my podcasts, including the ones about writing. If there’s some amazing podcast app I should be using instead, please tell me, but for now, this one works. Writing Excuses and Helping Writers Become Authors are still long-time podcast favorites, but I’ve recently discovered a new writing podcast that I’d like to share. Story Grid podcast just started in October 2015, and each week editor Shawn Coyne (who also wrote the writing book, The Story Grid) discusses the writing process with new writer and host Tim Grahl. Basically, Tim stands in for you and me as a writer who is trying to figure out how to write a novel and do it well, and Shawn is the experienced professional who is willing to answer his questions. If you’ve wished you could just get someone to tell you how to do this writing thing, then this podcast is for you. Each one clocks in at about an hour, but they do a good job of packing it with info and keeping me engaged all the way through. It’s an excellent resource.
Now it’s your turn. What apps help you most in your writing life?