Do you ever find you get stuck when you know you have to write a blog post?
Maybe there are too many distractions for you to concentrate on your writing, or you just don’t have any interesting topics to write about.
Every blogger, brand new or established, has had to learn ways to maximize their writing process so they can continually produce the best content for their audience.
Sometimes the best writing tool or the simplest one can help you write faster, better or more efficiently.
But, which writing tools are the best for bloggers and writers?
I’ve rounded up the top bloggers and writers and asked them one question: What tool has helped you out the most in your writing process?
Sue Anne Dunlevie, Successful Blogging
Quabel is a distraction-free writing tool and minimalist online text editor. It’s web-based and it automatically backs up your work as you write.
Your writing can be exported as a text document – great for writing blog posts. You can also set a writing goal – so much time or so many words – but my favorite part is that I can write with the sounds of a typewriter (reminds me of doing term papers in school!). Follow me @SueAnnDunlevie.
Adrienne Smith, Blogger
I’ve been using Windows Live Writer for a couple of years and it is a Windows based program that comes installed on your computer. If you have a newer version of Windows all you have to do is install it, but I am not sure if you can use it on a Mac.
When setting up the program for the first time you just add the login details to your WordPress blog and you’re all set to go.
As a newer blogger, I used to type my posts in WordPress itself because when I would type them in Word I had coding issues after I pasted them into the post. When you type them in your blog, though, you don’t have a backup copy, which, of course, I wasn’t too happy about. I was introduced to this program and instantly fell in love.
As you write your post it’s showing up as if it’s already published on your blog. Unless you have other plugins installed on your blog that give you other editing features, it’s as if you’re typing it into your WordPress post. You can add your images, change your headers and even change the font because you’re able to use whatever fonts you have loaded on your computer.
When you save the draft you can come back to it as many times as you want because the original is on your computer.
You can publish it directly from LiveWriter or you can post the draft to your blog, which will send it directly to WordPress.
It doesn’t have any fancy features like correcting your grammar; it’s just a simple program for typing your post and giving you the opportunity to save it on your computer. The program is free to use so I’m sure if it was a paid program they would’ve put many more bells and whistles on it.
Lauren Tharp, Little Zotz Writing
Writing for myself is easy. Writing for others can be difficult. I’m a people pleaser, so I always want to do everything that’s expected of me and more. Which can be exhausting and lead to burnout – the bane of the freelancer!
There have been times when I’ve been paid for four hours of work, and put in 20. So, in order to make sure I do just enough writing for my clients, I like to use Toggl.
Toggl is a free time-tracker app that’s basically a big ol’ stopwatch. It’s super easy to use and you can use it either on your phone or online at their website. It’s helped me stay on track by allowing me to literally track my time, and therefore not give into the temptation to go overboard.
The tool I use isn’t so much a writing tool as it is a tool that helps me to write. Follow me @LittleZotzWrite.
Ariel Rule, Freelance Freedom Fighter
My favorite writing tool is called, Coffitivity, and it plays background noise like what you might hear in a coffee shop.
There’s something about the sound that helps me just slip directly into work mode. My house is pretty rowdy as it is, but even still, jut having it play in the background when I’m trying to work or read is a big mental help.
Plus, it’s free and there’s even an app for smartphones so I can literally take it with me anywhere. Follow me @ArielRule.
Lorraine Reguly, Wording Well
Written? Kitten! is a FREE tool that is motivating to those who tend to write super-long blog posts and need a bit of inspiration to keep writing.
Written? Kitten! essentially provides you with an empty screen in the shape of a box. To use it, you simply begin typing your words. After the 100th word, an image will pop up. Generally it’s an image of a kitten (hence the name).
Of course, you ought to be a fan of animals to use this tool. It is especially great for us cat-lovers!
However, if you are a “dog person,” don’t fret. This tool allows you to change the image option from “kitten” to “puppy.”
And if you’d rather see an image of a “bunny,” you’re in luck – as this is the third and final choice you have. 😉
The tool also permits you to set the number of words before a new image appears from 100 to 200 or 500 or 1000.
Once you are finished typing your words (whether they are to be part of a blog post, an e-book, or something else), all you have to do is copy/paste your text into either your blog editor, a Word document, or another destination.
I love Written? Kitten! It might seem like a tool that’s a bit juvenile, but it’s nice to have that extra incentive of seeing a new picture as motivation to either keep typing or to type faster!
Written? Kitten! definitely gets a “thumbs up” from me! Follow me @LorraineReguly.
Brent Jones, Brent Jones Online
My topics.txt file that I continually edit in Notepad is – without a doubt – the most important tool in my writing process. Let me explain.
My greatest source of new blog post ideas comes from my freelancing work – and if it weren’t for a convenient place to store those ideas, I would mostly certainly forget each and every one of them.
For instance, I often find myself searching for the answer to a question during the day while doing work for my clients. An example might be, “How could I increase engagement on Twitter?”
I immediately write that question down. After all, if I have that question, others must, too.
As another example, a client reached out the other day and asked me, “What’s the value in blog commenting if the backlinks I get are ‘nofollow’?”
Right there. Boom! Another great blog post topic.
And as I complete my work each day, I find myself coming up with dozens of new potential blog post ideas. I jot each of them down in Notepad for future reference. That .txt file gets synced with my Google Drive, so I have access to it from anywhere. (As I understand it, Evernote might be a simpler alternative that does the very same thing…)
So, as I begin to plan out my content calendar – usually using Google Calendar – I will assign certain topics I’ve jotted down as content for my own blog, content for other blogs I write for, and content for guest posts I’m crafting.
This isn’t by any means a complicated or highly technical system… it’s just my process. Writers – especially in the online space who often write blog posts and articles – constantly find themselves stuck for ideas… and that is one problem I just never seem to run into.
Whatever text editor you decide to use, just pick one! Too many great ideas get lost in the shuffle of everyday life.
Before you know it, you’ll have a resource of dozens – hundreds? – of topics to write on. Follow me @BrentJOnline.
Sharon Hurley Hall, Freelance Writer
I’m a professional blogger and writer and Scrivener is one of my favorite tools. Originally designed to help novelists manage their manuscripts, Scrivener is an excellent organizational tool, especially if you blog for multiple clients and outlets. Scrivener works with documents, folders, labels and statuses, all within individual projects.
I start a new project every year, with folders for each month, and documents for each piece of writing completed that month. I use color-coded labels for where each piece of writing is in the process, from notes to invoiced, paid and live.
And I use status labels for the different topics I cover. I also include client initials within the title of each document. Scrivener includes great search features so I can always find what I’ve previously written on a topic, and it allows you to import and save your research offline.
The only complaint I have is that adding links is cumbersome, though if you are happy to use Markdown that won’t be a problem for you. Other than that, Scrivener is a great tool and the ability to back up automatically to Dropbox is another big plus.
Scrivener is available for both PC and Mac from Literature and Latte. The price is $40, but you can try it free for 30 days, plus there is usually a deal available around NaNoWriMo time in November. Follow me @SHurleyHall.
Bryan Collins, Become A Writer Today
I use Evernote to organize all of my research, a significant part of my writing and even areas of my personal life. It’s become my digital brain and my go-to personal library of information.
I actually took out an Evernote account a few months after it was released several years ago, but I only started getting the most from Evernote last year. Since then, it’s become an indispensable writing and research tool.
What I really like about Evernote is that you can save almost anything in it. I can capture text, written or audio notes on the go using my phone, laptop or computer.
For example, sometimes I listen to audio books in the car. Before I get out of my car, I dictate some thoughts into Evernote and then return to these later on. I also regularly save articles, blog posts and even eBooks that I read online. It’s great to be able to find all of this information in one place when I need it for a blog post or book chapter.
One trick to getting more from Evernote is to use lots of tags for your notes, but only use two primary notebooks. This is because a note in Evernote can only exist in one notebook at a time, but it can have multiple tags. My notebooks are simply called Archive and Inbox.
For example, if I read a great blog post about creativity, I save it in my Inbox. Later on, I tag the note with tags like “Creativity” and “Writing” and I add some thoughts and then move it to my Archive. This isn’t the only way to use Evernote, but it works for me.
The only thing I don’t like about Evernote is that the Windows version is more clunky and not as pretty as the Mac version, but hey it’s still a great tool. Evernote is free but I pay for the premium version as I sometimes go over my monthly allowance and I like that premium users can search and annotate PDFs and Microsoft Office documents.
Now as much as I love Evernote, the act of writing is always more important than any tool and I’d always advise someone to use what works and stick with it. Follow me @BryanJCollins.
Tor Refsland, Time Management Chef
My favorite writing tool is Microsoft Word.
When I need to focus and dive into my writing, I use the “Full Screen” view.
This will make sure that only one page is appearing on the entire screen. In other words, it helps me to REMOVE distractions and focus on the most important activity in a content creating process…
What do I like about Microsoft Word?
As a blogger and productivity coach, it’s crucial that I spend every single minute of my day on my most important tasks.
I am a big fan of the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In other words, if you have a certain tool that works very well for a certain activity, why spend a lot of time to constantly be looking for something better?
If you have a writing tool that gets the job done, spend your time and your most important task…
Keeping things simple and just focusing on writing has yielded me some great results in a short period of time.
In about 8 months I have won an award for “Most Epic” blog post on Boost Blog Traffic (Jon Morrow’s blog), got interviewed 8 times, written 17 guest posts for big blogs and been featured as an expert on 26 websites.
If I were to do a bigger writing project, like a book, I would collect my research in Evernote. However, I would still do my writing in Microsoft Word.
I firmly believe that there is no magic bullet when it comes to a writing tool. I could, of course, use a more complex and fancy writing tool. That being said, I don’t think it would help me to write better.
Hemingway didn’t have a fancy writing tool, and he kind of did fine…
Microsoft Word is a part of the Microsoft Office bundle. Follow me @TorRefsland.
Pam Neely, Marketing Content Creator
My favorite writing tool is a sand timer. It runs out at about 33 minutes. I use it according to the Pomodoro Technique. That’s a productivity method where you focus intensely for short bursts of time with rests between.
Traditionally, “pomodoros” last 25 minutes long. You use them to track how much time you actually spend working, rather than just doing busywork. I only count pomodoros for writing – not for invoicing, or social media, or anything else.
Counting pomodoros also helps you allocate reasonable amounts of time for each task. For example, I know a blog post takes me between 5 and 7 pomodoros if it’s simple and short, and up to 10 pomodoros if it’s long and requires a lot of research. Counting pomodoros also shows me how much time I’m actually taking for each client, so I’m able to track my true hourly rate.
The walls of my office are painted with IdeaPaint (like a whiteboard). One wall is marked off as a grid. The wall fits about two months’ worth of days. For every pomodoro, I make a slash on that day. Each slash is color-coded according to each client. I can’t ever have more than seven clients, because then I’d run out of marker colors. 😉
By making those color-coded slashes, I can see the patterns of how I work (or don’t work) and which clients are hurting my hourly rate. I can also watch my productivity improve and be realistic with clients about deadlines or extra work.
The biggest benefit of the pomodoro technique is that it gets you to just sit down in the chair and focus. It’s slashed my procrastination around writing to the point where I can now comfortably publish about 11,000 words or more per week.
There are dozens of apps for the Pomodoro Technique (search for “Pomodoro Timer”). They all have more bells and whistles than I want. I had been using the free app “Simple Pomodoro Timer”, which is great, but I was using it so much I was wearing my phone battery down all the time. The sand timer doesn’t have that problem. Follow me @PamellaNeely.
KeriLynn Engel, Freelance Writer
I use Google Drive from my Chromebook for pretty much everything related to my freelance business — writing, client management, manual invoicing, etc.
I love having everything all in one place, automatically backed up to the cloud, and having it accessible from any computer or device I use. If my computer suddenly implodes or something, my files will be safe — no need to run backups. I also love the simple and intuitive interface.
I get really frustrated now whenever I try to use Microsoft Word because the menus are so bloated and it’s impossible to find the specific tool or function I’m looking for. With Google Drive, you can literally just search the menu if you can’t find a feature – but because it’s so simple, everything’s easy to find.
The only thing I don’t like about it is the missing em dash key. I use a lot of em dashes, but there’s no dedicated key or menu option or keyboard shortcut for them. So I installed a Chrome extension called Accent Grid, which adds a customizable menu of special characters you can click to copy them to your clipboard.
In Google Drive, I also use a few extensions to make my work easier: HelloSign to fill out and sign PDFs, PicMonkey to edit images, and ZIP Extractor (or the website Unzip Online) to unzip files online.
Google Drive is free to use with your Google account, and you get 15GB of free storage. The great thing about it is native Google filetypes don’t count towards your storage quota — just other files like PDFs, images, etc. Follow me @kerilynnengel.
Devesh Sharma, WPKube
Trello is a fantastic tool for managing writers or your team. I haven’t found any similar service that solves the problem of managing a team from a single dashboard, so effectively.
Apart from that, you can also manage your projects, create to-do lists, and business roadmaps. Plus it is free to use. They do have premium plans, but you can get most of the work done with their free plan. Follow me @Devesh.
Elna Cain, Innovative Ink
As a freelance writer, the one thing I had to learn quickly was there is a style to writing for the web.
From breaking up your text with shorter paragraphs to using lists to add more whitespace, content online has to be easy to scan and read.
And one writing tool I use to ensure I have easy to read content is Readability Score.
All you do is copy and paste your text, URL, or – if you are a premium supporter –PDF or document, and you’ll receive a readability grade.
Some of the best books that have stood the test of time have a 4th-8th grade reading level. So, when I write content for my blog – or for clients – I avoid using complex words and make my writing more casual and conversational.
No one wants to use a thesaurus or dictionary when they read a blog post, right? Follow me @ECainWrites.
Sarah Peterson, Unsettle
I use Byword the most in my writing process. Byword is a simple app for Mac devices that provides a plain white or black background.
It’s not a web-based app so it cuts out distractions and just provides a lot of focus. You can publish on most publishing platforms right from Byword (WordPress, etc) but I don’t choose to do this – I just copy and paste. Follow me @PetersonSar.
Adam Connell, Blogging Wizard
I started testing Grammarly recently and it’s fast becoming one of my favorite tools.
I use Grammarly to root out spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes that I might have missed.
I also use the tool to improve other elements of my writing such as style and sentence structure.
Grammarly looks at 250 points of grammar – including the likes of style, spelling, punctuation, grammar, sentence structure and context based spelling mistakes.
There is a Chrome Extension, which adds a green icon below text boxes; this means you can use the proofreading tool within WordPress, Gmail or anywhere else within your browser.
Inside the Grammarly app, you can activate plagiarism detection that will check the content to ensure originality.
There’s also a vocabulary enhancement feature you can activate which will provide suggestions to diversify your writing. For example, running an old blog post through the app highlighted an overused word in the first sentence.
One option that seems to be lacking is the ability to switch to different variations of English (e.g. US and the UK).
It defaults to the US, which works for me as I mostly write for a US-based audience.
If you use the Chrome Extension, you’ll see the Grammarly logo appear in the bottom right-hand corner of any text boxes, and you’ll get suggestions as you write.
As the logo appears on the right, it occasionally gets in the way. Ultimately, it’s more of a help than a hindrance but when I’m not using it, I have the option of disabling the Extension.
When going through issues flagged up by the app, there will be some recommendations that don’t fit, so occasionally you’ll need to use your judgment.
There will always be issues that automated tools won’t spot – they can only take you so far and won’t replace a human proofreader. It’s not perfect, but it does a great job overall.
So if you want to get some insights into how to improve your writing and you want to spot potential mistakes before you publish, Grammarly can help.
Wrapping it up
There you have it! Some of the top bloggers and writers from all over have revealed their go-to writing tool in helping them write with ease.
From helping generate topics to helping improve your focus, to even helping you catch all your grammar mistakes, writing tools can be your secret blogging ally.
Over to you – what is your favorite writing tool? And how does it help you with your writing process?