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Aside from not posting on this blog, last week was one of my most productive weeks in a long time. I sent in my application to one writing fellowship, interviewed for another, applied to jobs, and finally got started on figuring out what in the world affiliate marketing is. The more I write, the more committed I become to writing as a professional venture. And the more committed I become, the more projects I’m willing to take on. All of this necessitates good process, time management, and organization.
A few weeks ago I shared some general advice for getting to know yourself as a writer and beginning to cultivate a writing habit. Today’s post is going to hone in on the actual process of writing itself. With that said, here are three apps/programs to help you streamline your writing process and accomplish your goals.
As someone who hates proofreading (and often skips that step), Grammarly has been a lifesaver. It’s an automated proofreader that catches typos, grammar mistakes, wordiness/passive voice, and plagiarism, among other things. Once you import your document, the program marks it up with recommendations along with the grammatical explanations behind them.
Some of my favorite things about Grammarly:
- It’s like having a second pair of eyes look over your work
- The user-friendly layout: your text is on the left and the edits are on the right column
- The import/export function allows you to retain the original formatting of your work
- Documents exported to Word record the edits as tracked changes
- In Premium, you can customize what type of document you’re editing (creative, technical, academic, etc.) and the app will reconfigure what edits to focus on
Who it’s best for: Students, writers, bloggers, and any professional whose job requires them to write. If you write a lot of essays, memos, emails—anything that needs fine-tuning—Grammarly can save you a lot of time and hassle.
Who it’s not so great for: Creative or advanced writers who break conventional rules for stylistic purposes. If this is you, you’ll likely ignore many of Grammarly’s recommendations on sentence fragments and repetition. That said, it’s still helpful for tracking typos, missing punctuation, and other things you may not catch on your own.
Price point: Grammarly has a free version with basic spelling and grammar checks. Its premium* version includes more in-depth editing related to style, vocabulary, and plagiarism checks. Grammarly Premium costs $29.95/month for monthly payments, with lower overall costs for quarterly or annual payments.
In addition to the app, Grammarly has a free browser extension that’s great for catching mistakes on your web activities like personal email and Facebook comments.
Check out Grammarly here*!
2. Ulysses (Mac/iOS only)
Ulysses is the app I use to write pretty much everything. You can find the full breakdown of its features here, but my favorite things about it are:
- Clean, minimalist user interface (basically, it’s a beautiful app)
- It runs on Markdown formatting which is easy and web-friendly
- I can access all my content from the sidebar (no digging through folders), complete with multi-level folders
- The app auto saves everything for me
- It has convenient publishing options for WordPress and Medium
- It also comes with sleek preset designs for exporting to PDF and Word
Who it’s best for: Anyone who does a significant amount of writing that requires formatting and organization. Anyone who needs multi-level folders for their writing projects and could benefit from the easy-access sidebar. Also, anyone who prefers a minimalist alternative to traditional word processing software’s clunky interface.
Who it’s not so great for: If you prefer traditional word processing software options or if you don’t have many writing projects to keep track of, Ulysses may not be for you.
Price point: Ulysses recently switched to a subscription model at $4.99/month or $39.99/year. This subscription model allows users to synchronize work across Mac/iOS platforms and receive continued development and updates on the app. Personally, I bought Ulysses when it was a standalone app, so I only have it on my Mac. I may switch to the subscription later on for the updates, but I’m happy with the program as-is.
You can try Ulysses for free with its 14-day trial here.
(Note: Ulysses is currently only available for Mac/iOS devices. There is a copycat Ulysses for Windows app that is not affiliated with the original Ulysses app.)
Habitica is my absolute favorite productivity app because it turns your to-do list into a role-playing game. Think experience points, health stats, leveling up. There’s even a social element to the game—tavern chats, guilds, and inviting your friends to join your party. Whoever envisioned this app is a genius.
Here’s what I love about Habitica:
- It gives you three categories of activities to track: habits, dailies, and to-dos
- There’s something oddly rewarding about getting XP and coins for checking something off your to-do list
- The Habitica community is a fun way of meeting others with similar goals and holding yourself accountable
- It invokes Runescape-era gaming nostalgia
It’s been a great tool in helping me stick to my writing habits and deadlines. I use the habits tracker for things like “Write in my journal” or “Listen to a podcast,” and I use the to-do tracker to make sure I send in job applications or pitches by the deadline.
Who it’s best for: Anyone looking for a new (and fun!) way to motivate themselves, get things done, and cultivate better habits. Also, anyone who likes games and has a need for a to-do list.
Who it’s not so great for: People who already have their way of making sure they get things done, or people who don’t enjoy games.
Price point: It’s free, with options to upgrade to a paid group plan, enterprise plan, and the developers are working on a family plan, too. So basically, if you’re just using this on your own, it won’t cost you a penny.
You can access Habitica as a website and as an app on your phone (iOS and Android). Check it out here!
Together, these three apps make up the majority of my writing process.
I wrote this post on Ulysses and proofread it using Grammarly, and Habitica allows me to reward myself (with XP and coins, because why not?) afterward.
I hope someone somewhere found this helpful! And if anyone has any essential tools they want to share from their writing process, I’m all ears!