10 Essential Non-Writing Tools to Help Writers Write

    by Sarah Juckes
    December 3, 2013
    Photo by 3ric15 on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

    The last decade has seen an increase in programs to help writers plot, write and read their books — but there are also plenty of non-writing tools that writers can use to help them create their masterpieces. At the company where I work, CompletelyNovel, we use digital tools every day to streamline their tasks. Here are our top 10 tools to help writers write.

    1. Dropbox

    If you’re working on a Microsoft Word file or similar, regularly save your file to Dropbox. That will keep an archive of all previous saves (just in case the worst happens and you accidentally delete the whole thing! It sounds silly, but it’s guaranteed to happen to every writer at some point in their careers). It’s free to download and easy to use.

    "The last decade has seen an increase in programs to help writers plot, write and read their books -- but there are also plenty of non-writing tools that writers can use to help them create their masterpieces."

    2. Google Docs

    Working via a Google Document is particularly great if you’re collaborating on a project with another writer, or are enlisting the services of an editor. It allows two people to log in to the same document and work on it at the same time. It also automatically saves your work for you, so you’re less likely to lose it, should your computer suddenly fail, or you accidentally close the window. To make use of it, create a Gmail account and click on “Drive.” You can create all kinds of things!


    3. LastPass

    Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 11.33.03 AMLastPass is a neat app that securely saves all your passwords – meaning that you can spend less time searching back through emails to find your Twitter password, and more time writing!

    4. Sticky notes

    Most computers come with sticky notes in some form or another. They look and work a lot like Post-it notes that you can stick to your desktop to remind you to do something. They’re also great if you need to quickly jot something down in a rush, like a new scene or story idea.

    5. Ctrl-Z

    Most people will recognize this as the “undo” key. It works on most programs and browsers — just hold down Ctrl and press “Z”, and watch that paragraph you just accidentally lost, reappear! (If you use a Mac it’s Cmd + Z.)


    6. F11

    Pressing F11 in any window will allow you to go into “Full Screen” mode. This eradicates any distractions, such as your email blinking in your start bar, or your Twitter tab — and allows you to concentrate on writing. (On a Mac it’s Ctrl + Cmd + F)

    7. Pinterest


    If you’re trying to create something — whether that’s a story, a book cover or even book-themed gifts — Pinterest is a great tool that allows you to take useful advice articles and images from across the Internet and pin them on your own board. It works in the same way as a corkboard, and is great for creating moodboards to help you describe a character or location, or to keep track of your favorite websites.

    8. Gliffy

    plotting2This nifty program is free to use and works in your Internet browser — allowing you to easily create flowcharts and diagrams. If you’re stuck in your plot or are planning your novel, this is a great tool to help you visualize your thoughts and help you analyze how you might get from “a” to “b.”

    9. Gmail Streak

    This app uses your Gmail account and was originally designed for those working in sales. The app works with your emails and lets you create a “box” for each contact and track their responses. This app is perfect for any authors who are sending out to agents, competitions or press, as it’ll allow you to schedule chase-up emails and ensure you aren’t accidentally submitting to the same person twice.

    10. HungryHouse

    After a day writing indoors, it’s always a good idea to make sure you get outside and stretch your legs/eyes. But for those days that you just can’t bear to change out of your pajamas to go to the shops and get some food — there is HungryHouse. Enter your postcode and search a range of takeaway restaurants that will deliver to your door.

    Sarah Juckes is Communications Manager for CompletelyNovel, where this post first appeared. CompletelyNovel is an online publishing platform and author community that aims to make book publishing simple through use of online tools. 

    Tagged: authors CompletelyNovel digital tools inside tips technology the art of writing tools for writers writing
    • Christopher Stevenson

      Very useful. Thanks.

    • sponsoredbythewind

      I miss Diigo very useful to file web-info and your comments (private or in public). Sorry to make it 11 essentials ;)

      • Sarah Ann Juckes

        I hadn’t heard of that! Thanks for the tip :)

    • Jason Lee

      I prefer 1Password over Lastpass. The UI is much nicer and has great features for the value.

    • So many options to choose from. I’m not sure witch to go with but I do know that I need to do something. It’s getting to the point where I’m e-mailing the forgotten password routine with every account I access. Thanks for the share!

    • Amanda McKee

      I love dropbox. If you have a smartphone/tablet that you wrote down notes/ideas on, you can upload them to your dropbox account, which you can then access from any computer.

    • 2muchcoffeeman

      F11 = “save”, not “full screen”

    • This is are all good tips.I will definitely try Gliffy, I haven`t heard of that. I Love drop box because you can share information with a friend in her own computer as long as both of you are sharing the drop box. It is also good at storing pictures. Evernote is also good, you can store dates on it, and set a reminder for any upcoming events.

    • That’s a great list! I’d also add Evernote. I have become a convert since trying it late last year. Now, everything is there, synced with all my devices. (Including my brain. Yay!)

    • JD

      There’s been an explosion of collaborative writing tools as of late. Most let you collaborate in the cloud and are built for content creation. Check out DraftIn, Editorially, Beegit, Typewrite.

    • selkiesidhe

      I could not LIVE without OneNote. It basically holds all the information for the world I have created- from character bios to town maps- and as a fantasy writer I have found it a must have. Find appropriate tab, jot down a new note and BAM! it’s saved. Super easy

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