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Staff Q&A: Online Writing Tools

Online Writing Tools

What is your favorite online writing tool, app, or website?

Sophie L. Nagelberg. Advice to Writers is Jon Winokur’s collected “writerly wisdom of the ages.” It has a little bit of everything—author quotes, interviews, resources, articles and essays. I visit the site or twitter feed for brief bouts of inspiration, then stay for the excellent content.

Danette Chavez. I’m fairly new to the freelance game and have found The Write Life very helpful for both business and craft advice. It’s free to use, and there’s a whole community at your fingertips.

Jess Millman. I’ve used Noisli pretty frequently this winter. It’s not exclusively for writers, but has been a perfect match for my binge novel-rewriting sessions. Noisli is a free web-based atmospheric tool, and its presets conveniently list the intended uses: “random, relaxation, productivity.” Essentially, you’re provided with a simplistic, easy-to-use digital soundboard, and given free reign to mix-and-match ambient noises to create your best possible audio backdrop. My favorite settings: fire and rustling leaves. The rumbling train click-clacks are nicely immersive, too, for those of you who celebrate the romance of the wandering writer. And when the real Chicago snow kicks in, the windchill is -40, and you don’t want to put three pairs of pants on to walk three blocks, Noisli’s “coffee shop” track is here for you.

Julia Fine. I can’t say enough about Scrivener. I am in the middle of a fairly lengthy project, and the software has been well worth its $45 in keeping me organized. There are numerous elements (like keyword tracking and metadata) that I haven’t yet explored, but the cork board feature is great for playing with structure and the binder and icon features help me keep track of my to-do list and jump quickly from one part of my project to the next. A huge relief after wrestling with 100+ page Word Docs.

Alba Machado. As part of my New Year’s resolution, I lined the favorites bar of my browser with writing sites—no time wasters. I also found FocusWriter. It’s a word processing application that takes up very little memory, costs only as much as you’re willing and able to “tip,” and has become a total addiction for me. Here’s why: it’s immersive and distraction-free, taking up the full screen but, at the same time, giving you only a small window in which to write; it allows you to set daily goals according to time, word count, or page count, and it tracks your progress over time; and, best of all, it has a feature that, when enabled, makes your keyboard sound like an old school typewriter with those oh-so-satisfying clicking, clacking, and swooshing sounds. I customized mine so that it looks like I’m flying over clouds as I click-clack-swoosh my way to my writing goal everyday.

Daniel Camponovo. The only online writing tool I need is RainyMood.com. Seriously, though, I’ve gotten a lot of utility out of Duotrope‘s massive catalog of journals and literary magazines. At $5/month (or $50/year), it’s a bit too rich for my blood, but if you have a piece that you know is finished and that you truly believe in, it’s helpful to pop on for 30 days and see what up-and-coming journals are out there. Their catalog is well-organized and easily filtered by genre, length, subject, acceptance ratio, minimum payment—just about any criteria you can think of. With magazine payouts shrinking every day, Duotrope may never pay for itself, but if you want to put in the time to research and make your own offline journal spreadsheet, it’s a great one-month rental.

Kori Klinzing. I really like BehindtheName.com for character naming. They even have a randomizer. But I always use Rainymood, and Duotrope when I’m ready to publish.


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