Before modern computers came along, writing was either a casual hobby or a full-time pursuit. There wasn’t a pressing reason for those uninterested in writing to bother with it — but that changed with the rise of the personal brand. Today, everyone who wants to maintain a strong online presence (whether personally, professionally, or both) has to write.
What do they write? Blog posts and articles, for a start: content marketing is crucial for attracting website visitors and picking up search rankings. General website copy, too, since you can’t get by using strong visuals in complete isolation. And then there are pieces of business communication, such as emails, instant messages, or social media updates.
All this writing (and the editing that comes with a need for quality) can be tough, particularly if you’re not accustomed to it, but there are plenty of tools available online that can help you out. Here are seven essential tools to support you with your writing and editing work:
Love it or hate it, grammar is extremely important, and allowing sloppy grammar to creep into your writing is a reliable way to show readers that you don’t care about what you’re doing. But you don’t need to be a grammatical genius to get by — with Grammarly, you don’t even need a solid grasp of the basics (though of course, you should have one anyway).
Grammarly is free to use: add the extension to your browser of choice to use throughout the web, install the desktop app, or just use the online Grammarly editor. The more you use it, the better you’ll get at picking out your most common mistakes, and the better your writing and editing will become.
Digital content in particular needs to be digestible. You might not have thought about it much, but a lot of browsing is done from mobile devices, and a hefty paragraph can look enormous on a small screen. There’s also the matter of attention spans being very short for web users. There are plenty of distractions, after all.
The Hemingway App was created to help people simplify their content and make it more accessible. You paste your content into it (or just type from scratch), and it flags up elements that could be shortened or removed. You need to do everything it says — I consider it overzealous — but it absolutely works. Getting too wordy? This is the solution.
Sonic distractions are easy to come by when you’re trying to get things done. Construction work going on in the background, babies crying, car horns blaring — how are you supposed to concentrate? Rainy Mood plus a decent pair of headphones will help out massively, allowing you to tune the world out and get fully immersed in the task at hand.
You can also pair it with the music of your choice for a more sumptuous atmosphere, though choose carefully. It probably isn’t a good idea to fire up some heavy metal while the rain noises are trying to bring you to a state of productive relaxation.
Not all distractions are sound-based. In fact, most distractions for the average laptop user stem from the boundless possibilities of the internet browser. Isn’t it difficult to avoid checking your favorite sites for updates, even when you know you’re supposed to be working? You’ll just take a few minutes, you reason, but then an hour passes in the blink of an eye.
Freedom is a blocker designed to help you prevent temptation. You simply set it up and start blocking apps and websites that tend to draw your attention. Here’s how it works: you schedule it to limit access during your planned work hours and disable when you reach your leisure time. Don’t let that alluring social media feed hold you back!
How complex is your writing? The Hemingway App will give you suggestions about the reading level required for your content, but the Read-o-Meter will give you a straightforward assessment of how long it will take to read. This is important for digital content, particularly if you start including the expected reading times in your descriptions — knowing that something will only take 4 minutes to read will make someone more likely to check it out.
You can’t do everything alone, even if you’re a skilled writer and editor, but particularly if you’re still figuring things out. You need expert support from time to time, and Jericho Writers is both a community and a service portal for writers — in particular, Jericho’s book editing services can make life a lot easier for aspiring novelists.
The site also lists events for UK writers, so anyone in that part of the world can take advantage, but the general resources are valuable no matter where you’re based. The internet is full of help for writers if you know where to look, so don’t pass it up.
The Most Dangerous Writing App
Consider this the definitive “break glass in case of emergency” writing tool. Here’s how The Most Dangerous Writing App works: you set a writing pace (how long you’re allowed to go without typing anything), and start hammering out the copy.
If you pause for longer than the amount of time you selected, you lose everything you’ve written. Should you find yourself in a position of ultimate procrastination, give this a try. You’ll hate it, and you might hate life itself, but you might just get some writing done.
The seven resources above will prove highly effective for anyone wanting to improve their writing skills, productivity, and output. Bookmark them in your browser and give them a try in your time of need.