Writers long ago had a few basic tools: a typewriter, a notepad, a pencil, and a good collection of dictionaries. Now we have computers, specialized programs, desktop applications and others in the cloud. Simply put, we have an infinite variety of free tools for writers. In the end, it is about choosing the one that is most comfortable for you or, simply, the one that you like the most.
If you are not used to these applications or if you are new to writing, you probably will not know most of them. For this reason, I have dedicated myself to searching and testing some of them to present them to you here, in a single article.
Writing tools (word processors)
- Google Docs
I know all writers love Scrivener and such… But Google Docs is much more suited to me. I write from several computers and on some, I can’t (or don’t want to) install Scrivener. Google Docs allows me to access my documents from any computer with an internet connection.
Google Docs is great if you work as a team. I have used it to manage content with a group of editors and the comment options and the built-in chat are wonderful.
If you are writing a four-handed novel, you will surely do it with Docs.
In addition, Google Docs saves changes automatically every few seconds and allows you to review all versions of a document to see the changes made. As if that were not enough, it allows you to convert your file to PDF and even format an eBook, since it has several templates.
Typora has become my favourite word processor. I don’t use it to write novels, although I could, as it has an option to cascade through the different chapters (as long as you separate them with an H). Typora is simple, it is a minimalist processor and without distractions. I use it for blog articles since it works with markdown and HTML, which allows me to layout the articles from the application and paste them as HTML code in Guttenberg, which avoids layout errors.
Typora is a minimalist markdown word processor. Very comfortable and with many options.
Although it has options for writing code, where it really stands out is the distraction-free processor functionality. It has an option for typewriter mode, which allows you to focus only on the phrases you are writing at that moment.
Draft is another minimalist word processor. In this case, it is a browser processor, that is: you will not have to download any executable. It is a good alternative to Google Docs. I have not tried it much, but it offers great options: writing without distraction, version control, synchronization in the cloud, word count … And as in Google Docs, everything is saved in the cloud.
The good thing about Draft is that it counts the words you write per day and you can set alerts to send you an email when you haven’t written.
If you’re looking for a more sophisticated alternative, Reedsy is the closest thing to Scrivener you’ll find. Being free it does not have as many options as Scrivener, but it allows you to work with your manuscript or import what you have written. You can also format and export it in EPUB or create a PDF file for printing.
Another luxury processor, very Scrivener style. Here we can write our manuscripts and keep them organized by chapters and folders. It has a minimalist design and is very comfortable for the user (if you have worked with Scrivener). In this case you have a free and paid option, although the free version is more than enough.
- Spanish Checker
Among the free tools for writers that you will find on the internet, there are some that will help you improve the quality of your texts. Spanish Checker is a kind of auto-corrector in Spanish that takes special care in verb conjugations. You just have to copy your text into the box and the application will scan it for grammar, syntactic and spelling errors.
It’s not as powerful as Grammarly or Hemingway, but it’s not bad either.
- Official App of the RAE
If you want a tool to correct your texts, it is best to go to those who know the most. It has a library of more than 23 editions of the Dictionary of the Spanish language. The biggest drawback we can find is that it works only on mobile phones (Android and iOS).
Another application that will help you professionally correct your texts. It has contextual and semantic technology to accurately check the spelling, grammar and style of your texts. Offer a service directly through your website or you can integrate them into Word and WordPress.
It’s one of the most powerful writing tools you’ll find, as it will help you finish polishing those texts.
The free writing tools on my list couldn’t be without task managers. I am an absolute disaster in organizational matters, I need to have someone behind me telling me what to do or I get lost and I spend all my time procrastinating.
Todoist allows you to create recurring task lists, I have one to read and one to write. Every day it will notify you at a specific time. It is one of the few applications that works wonderfully on both desktop and mobile.
Todoist is a to-do list. It is an application with many options and very easy to configure.
It has an infinite number of options such as adding priorities, organizing by tags and a fun karma system (if you are into gamification).
Trello was one of my favorite tools. It is an application (browser and desktop) to organize and plan projects. It’s great for organizing a ghost writing agency, as it has a kanban board-like interface, with cards that you can move from one column to another.
If you have never worked with the kanban system, give it a try and you will see how you like it. You can make cards for whatever you want. I use Trello as my editorial calendar, since I can organize content and accumulate ideas in different columns.
Zenkit is like Trello, only it is developed in a Github environment, so it is totally free (Trello has premium paid options). It is much simpler and minimalist than Trello, but it has a number of integrations with other tools that you are going to love.
It is very simple to use and feasible, with functionalities to migrate data, automate certain workflows and integrate with other tools.
I already told you about Evernote in an article I dedicated to the application . For me, it is one of the best note apps. The problem was that the changes introduced a long time ago did not suit him very well. However, it is still an excellent option, especially for its Web Clipper extension that allows you to save articles from the browser.
Its greatest power, however, is in the notes. You can take voice notes, insert photos and it syncs from your browser, desktop, or mobile phone.
- Google Keep
My new favorite note app. If you work with Docs, you can integrate Keep to act as a notepad. I use it for novels, as it allows me to “hook” notes to the pages as I write. Joining Docs and Keep you have almost the same functions as in Scrivener.
Google Keep, like all Google products, is very simple, comfortable and visually very pleasant.
- Writing calculator
This free writers tool will be a delight for Nanowrimo lovers. It is a calculator that will estimate the words you must write each day to finish a project. For example, to finish a 70,000 word novel in one month, you would have to write 2,333 words a day.
The application also allows you to monitor the project. With it you will be able to do a detailed follow-up, knowing how many words per minute you should write and seeing your progress reflected.
You may be thinking that design tools are not tools for writers. Well why not? Many self-published writers do everything themselves, even the covers. Canva is a free and very simple graphic design tool . You can choose from hundreds of templates and you just have to grab and drag the elements you want to incorporate.
- Amazing eBook 3D Cover Creator
This tool allows you to create your own mockups. It is a good option for promotional creatives and graphic material for your blog or your newsletter. It is very easy to use, you just have to drag and drop.
- Kindle Create
Amazon’s free tool to layout eBooks for Kindle. As I always say, it is always best to go to the source. Although professional layout designers use InDesign, you can create an eBook in just a few steps and without spending too much with this tool.
- Google Drive
You cannot miss in this article on free tools for writers some cloud applications. Google Drive offers you 15 GB of storage space in the cloud. You can create and organize folders and, in addition, it offers you the entire suite of tools (very similar to Microsoft’s).
If you need more space, Drive offers you very cheap options and with a lot of substance. You also have an option to sync your desktop and access your files offline.
Another good cloud storage option. Dropbox offers paid versions and a free one with 15 GB of space. More than enough to keep your texts protected and have access to them from any device.
Although it started as a storage space, the tool has evolved and now offers great options for organizing projects and working remotely.
- One drive
One drive is Microsoft’s cloud storage option. The best thing about this tool is that it synchronizes with your computer (if you work with Windows), so you can protect all your folders and your projects.
It allows you to collaborate with other people and is integrated into Word as standard, making it a great option if you work with the Microsoft processor.
So far my list of free tools for writers. I have left many on the way, surely you have seen it. Some processors like OpenOffice or LibreOffice deserve a place on this list, but I haven’t put them because I don’t usually work with them. Also, I would like you to be the one to recommend new tools to me, what applications do you use and would you like to recommend to others?