Finding the best writing app is essential

Finding the best writing app is essential

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I am somewhat of a geek when it comes to picking out writing apps that let me just get on with writing. Now and again I need a change of style or approach to getting words onto the page, so I have quite a few different ones that suit almost every whim I may have.

This post will cover the apps I use, across a variety of platforms, in order to write blog posts, novels or indeed any other written project bar screenplays (that’s another post for another time).

First let me say that I have developed a keen interest in Markdown text in the last 12-18 months, something that I have taken forward with Markdown XL and Slugline’s version of Markdown for screenwriting, called Fountain. But as I’ve said, I’ll save that for another time.

For clarity, I am in no way affiliated with the creators responsible for each of the apps I will mention, nor am I receiving any financial incentive for waxing lyrical about them. No, this is just what I have found I enjoy using and are personal recommendations only. If you happen to find they work for you too, great.

Mac (other devices are available)

My trusty 2010 iMac is my main device for writing on when I’m at home. Many an hour has been spent toiling away on there, desperately trying to avoid being distracted by the huge pile of other things that I’d otherwise like to be getting on with besides writing. In fact I’m writing this piece on there now. A Mac computer is not a prerequisite for creativity though – I spend equal amounts of time writing on my iPad, Windows laptop and smartphone. Put simply, in this day and age if you want to write then there is no excuse not to. Use pen and paper if you have no alternative. It might take you longer to write longhand, but it’s better than not writing at all.

That’s enough warbling on anyway, you’re here for my favourite writing apps.

Ulysses (iMac and iPad)

Ulysses is, frankly, one of the best pure writing apps I have ever used. It is simple to get into but has a wealth of tweaks and advanced elements under the hood that caters for all skill sets and writing styles. The iPad app runs and looks much like its desktop cousin, although in my case I use Avenir on the iPad and Roboto on the Mac as my fonts of choice. Both are very nice to look at and make the craft of putting words to the page a delight.

Plus, the added bonus is that everything syncs via iCloud, so I can do some writing on my lunch hour, let it sync (let it sync, can’t hold it back anymore…) and resume my work on the desktop when I get home. Remarkable stuff.

iA Writer (iMac, iPad, Android devices)

I’ve moved away from this app recently in favour of Ulysses, but it still offers an effective stripped back interface. I decided to switch over to Ulysses with the introduction of the paid version – ironic given that Ulysses cost a lot more – but I still use iA Writer on both my phone and for previewing Markdown documents on my computer, and for avoiding all those bothersome extra features that get in the way of my writing time.

OmmWriter (pretty much device I own)

I use Ommwriter when I feel that I’m lacking focus and need it to just be me, the words and perhaps some soothing background sounds or ambient music. Ommwriter also has keyboard click sounds and a variety of different backgrounds that I can change depending on my mood.

Scrivener

Ulysses does almost everything I want a writing app to do, but when compiling a novel it’s Scrivener that does most of the legwork. It’s chock full of features but allows you the freedom to pick and choose what parts you actually make use of. I haven’t used most of the features within Scrivener yet, but I’m fairly certain that I will get round to exploring everything eventually. That’s more likely when my first novel is edited and ready to look at getting it published.
That’s an incredibly quick whistle stop tour of my current faves. Next time: my favourite screenwriting apps. Until then…

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