8 Tools You Need to Make the Writing Process Vastly Easier
It’s been 20 years since Bill Gates declared “Content is king,” but his statement has never been more true. And content is especially important for startups—unlike established companies with huge marketing budgets, earlier companies have to maximize every dollar they spend on getting the word out. Banner ads often don’t work, and other types of advertising are expensive.
So whether you’re a founder, marketer, or growth hacker, you’re probably doing a lot of writing. Check out the tools that’ll help you get from idea to finished piece.
Great content doesn’t exist in a vacuum—to write that thought-provoking blog post or insightful Medium piece, you’re going to need some inspiration. Fortunately, you can get a never-ending supply from content aggregators like Feedly. Add your favorite publications, writers, and even YouTube channels; then, boost your efficiency by curating your feeds into collections.
Feedly also lets you monitor keywords. This feature makes it much easier to write timely, relevant pieces, since you’ll immediately know when something happens in your industry or to your competitors.
But fantastic ideas don’t always come at convenient times. Rather than hoping you’ll remember your topic when you have the chance to write, or hastily typing it into Evernote or Apple Notes, send it to your inbox via Captio.
“I use this as a personal tool, and it’s one of my favorites,” says Derek Flanzraich, CEO and founder of Greatist. “It allows you to send yourself an email with one click. It sounds silly, but it’s so effective if you send yourself a lot of emails.”
Captio also gets two thumbs up from Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow.
The Writing Stage
It’s pretty crowded in the arena of composition tools. However, since every platform has its own unique benefits, you can choose based on your specific purpose or needs.
Quip, for example, is a solid contender for collaborative writing. Owen Thomas, editor-in-chief of ReadWrite, appreciates its approach to file ownership—instead of belonging to a single person, files belong to teams. Plus, he points out, “Quip’s interface, especially on mobile, is so much better than Google Drive.”
If you like to take your time with a piece, Draft might be ideal. This platform treats every version of your file like a software update: each time you add to or change your file, Draft creates a brand-new clone of your document. Flipping between versions is effortless, so you can watch your work evolve and even go “back in time,” so to speak, if you decided you liked an earlier version better.
Working on something long or complex? Take Scrivener for a spin. According to Pamela Owens, founder and CEO of Writing It Right For You, “If you do a lot of writing, Scrivener is the absolute best app. It has a big learning curve because there’s so much to it, but once you get the hang of it, it’s hard to imagine working without it.”
The app lets you break down your work into small, manageable pieces—think chapters, sections, or even sub-sections. Once you’ve finished those, Scrivener makes it easy to combine them into one large piece.
The Editing Stage
Editing may not be fun, but it’s essential. In Louis D. Brandeis’s words: “There is no great writing, only great rewriting.”
Luckily, you’ve got help. The Hemingway app is one of my favorite editing tools—it analyzes your writing for wordiness, passive voice, and common errors, then shows you where to tighten up your sentences.
If you need a quick check, it’s simple to copy and paste your text into Hemingway. However, the latest version lets you import .docx files, meaning you could write a multi-page document in Word, then easily pull it into the app for editing.
Grammarly is even more convenient to use. Like Hemingway, this grammar-checker offers an online text editor—but unlike Hemingway, it also provides extensions for Chrome and Safari. Virtually any time you write something, Grammarly will scan it for grammar and spelling errors.
The premium version comes with context-dependent vocabulary suggestions. As you can imagine, it’s nice to have five to 20 alternatives when you don’t want to use or repeat a word.
If you download Yoast’s Wordpress plug-in, it’ll tell you how readable your copy is. Yoast checks sentences and paragraph length, whether you use transition words or sub headings, and how often you lapse into the passive voice. (And of course, even Hemingway-quality prose won’t matter if no one reads it, so Yoast also offers SEO directions that’ll help your posts rank higher in search.)
The vast majority of people find writing pretty challenging—so if you normally approach creating a blog post or article like climbing a mountain, you’re not alone. But just like mountaineering, writing becomes far easier with the right gear. Good luck on the path.