How can technology help you to write a book? Although creative writing is one of the few areas relatively untouched by AI, we can still make use of some nifty tools to help us organise, improve and publish our work. Here are my top 5:
Evernote is a note-taking app I started using about a year ago and now I wouldn’t be without it. It’s great for recording ideas when they come to you and for keeping track of web pages, images and articles you know you’ll need later. The beauty of Evernote is that you can install it across all your devices, so the notes you make on the train or in the dentist’s chair automatically transfer to your laptop or pc. You can also save images, web links, PDFs and audio notes. Evernote uses optical character recognition in images too, so you don’t even have to type a name for it to be searchable. For example, if you saved a photo you took of a gravestone, even though you didn’t type the name on the stone the app would be able to search for it as a keyword. Finally, Evernote allows you to group notes together into ‘stacks’, which is great if you’re writing a book.
Best for: keeping your ideas together.
Ernest Hemingway was an author renowned for his concise style, and the app that bears his name is designed to take the fluff out of your writing. Simply paste your text into the app and it will analyse it for superfluous language—which is great if you tend to be long-winded. It will tell you if you’ve used the passive voice, too many adverbs or long sentences, highlighting anything that is clumsy or hard to read. The downside is that Hemingway doesn’t suggest corrections, but you could see this as a good thing as it forces you to work on your own style.
Best for: editing.
MindDoodle is a new brainstorming app that allows you to collect your ideas in a hierarchy, making it perfect for planning a book outline with chapters, headings and subheadings. I use it on the mindmap setting, but you can also view your doodle as a 3D cloud diagram or linear structure. You can add as many headings and subheadings as you like, and you can also enter text or notes under each heading. This makes it possible to build an entire book plan using the app. When you’re happy with your plan, you can download it as a Word document (most helpful), PNG or PowerPoint presentation.
Best for: creating a book or chapter outline.
Yes, you read that right—Pinterest is not just a distraction, but a great tool for writers. If you are looking for inspiration, quotes or just a writing prompt, search thousands of pins by writers and book editors and you will find new ways to kickstart your writing. Some writers post their own content, while others provide sentence openers to get the juices flowing.
Best for: writer’s block.
If you like to analyse your writing habits and need accountability to finish your book, 750swords is for you. Type your daily word count directly into the website and it will not only keep track of how much you have written but provide data on your productivity, from the number of breaks you took to how often you lost concentration. You also get bonuses and badges for hitting your targets, making it a great tool if you’re motivated by a system of rewards.
Best for: accountability.
There’s no substitute for writing regularly and with discipline, but if you need a little leg-up then these tools can make all the difference. If you need human help with any aspect of writing a book, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.