For the writer of today, hours of leisurely creative time are a luxury rarer than off-season caviar. Thanks to chaotic schedules that involve juggling a million priorities and doing justice to each, even half an hour of uninterrupted writing time each day seems like a blessing. And when we do get moments of spare time between all the things that need to be done, we tend to crave quick and easy entertainment. Enter the smartphone, our one-stop solution to every kind of boredom!
We often bemoan the advent of the smartphone for having ruined our ability to concentrate. And indeed, we run the risk of falling down a rabbit-hole of distractions every time we pick up our phones. Out of the multitude of apps calling out to be downloaded, however, there are several designed specifically to enhance our writing productivity. And while I firmly believe that there’s no substitute for old-fashioned pen and paper, I’ve found some apps to be pretty helpful given that I often have to write on the go. So here are my five top picks for apps every modern-day writer should have. Give them a try — they’re all free!
Use Trello to keep track of your projects and unfinished topics.
Trello allows you to create different boards, each with different cards and different entries under each card. It’s an easy way to categorise your projects and ideas and also update each of them as you progress. For instance, I like to maintain one card for my writing topics with different entries each representing one category of topics — business trends, productivity and so on. Under each entry, I have a checklist with the topics I have in mind, and I check them off one by one as they are done. I also maintain a separate card for the projects I am working on, and archive each one as they are done. You can move entries between cards, add as many entries as you like to each card and colour code them as well. It’s a wonderful digital version of a traditional pin board.
Use Wordpress to work on drafts.
Even if you don’t want to maintain an official Wordpress blog, open an account simply to use the writing interface for your posts. I’ve used several writing tools over the years, and Wordpress is undoubtedly the best. It allows for super easy typing and formatting on the go, and the font size is big enough that you can work without straining your eyes. I always write my drafts on the Wordpress app, adding points and tweaking the language as I get ideas on the go — once I’m done, I open the desktop version and copy and paste the finished text to whichever platform I want to share my post on, like Medium, YourStory or LinkedIn. It always comes out exactly the way I want it, and all I need to do is to add any little finishing touches and hit Publish.
Use Brain Focus to time yourself.
This handy app is designed around the Pomodoro technique, which advocates short bursts of deep work followed by breaks. You can set the time periods for each — the default setting is thirty minutes of work followed by a five-minute break. Tap the face-shaped button to start a work session, the coffee-shaped button to start a break. You can also pause or stop any session midway. It’s a super fun way to motivate yourself to concentrate!
Use Dictionary.com to find the right word.
Confused about whether to use ‘confused’ or ‘unsure’? Head over to the Dictionary app. Far more than a mere dictionary, this app will help you find the right word for every context. It includes other nifty features as well, such as Word Of The Day, slideshows and articles on word usage around the world, origins of different words and plenty of fun facts about the English language.
Use Medium to stay inspired.
Medium is one of the best universal writing platforms out there. You’ll find articles on every conceivable topic, from travel and political opinion to culinary exploits and matters of the heart. While a free account doesn’t allow you access to much of the content (the articles marked with a ‘star’ are members-only, though you are allowed to read a couple of them every month for free), even browsing the headlines can be inspiring. And should you wish to write on Medium, there are plenty of topic-oriented publications on the lookout for new writers!
So the next time you wish you could get more writing done, clear out some of those old games you know you’ll never play anymore and install these aids to productivity. You’ll end up progressing with your writing than you ever thought possible — and you don’t even need to cut down on phone time.