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You’ve spent years talking about how you wanted to write a novel. It’s time to finally make that happen, with the help of a few apps that show you how to get started, keep going, and break the book into achievable goals.
These apps and sites attack different aspects of writing. Some focus on forming a habit of writing regularly, which is what most beginners find difficult. Others are strong writing tools that break down your novel by characters, scenes, chapters, and so on, and let you add ideas accordingly.
No matter which of these works best for you, it’s a good idea to also check these sites to learn how to write and publish a book.
Prolifiko (Web): Guide to Writing Sprints and Daily Goals
Prolifiko recognizes that the biggest obstacle to writing a book is writing itself. Authors get caught up in thinking about their big idea, and re-thinking, and over-thinking. The act of writing takes a back seat.
The app’s purpose is to make writing a regular habit, and it uses multiple productivity methods to do this. It makes you set short-term goals, and provides motivational messages as well as tips on how to achieve them. It doesn’t include a word processor, so you’ll have to rely on Microsoft Word or the best alternative word processors.
In the free version of Prolifiko, you can try out what they call a “writing sprint”, which is a 7-day course to write as much as you can. It incorporates everything you’ll get in the final product, including the daily boosts and tips. If you like it, Prolifiko costs £5.99/month or £59.99/year, and works on desktop and mobile.
200 Words A Day (Web): Form a Daily Habit With a Community
Given how difficult it is to form the daily habit of writing, you might feel like a failure whenever you don’t do it. But there are thousands of people like you. And just talking with them at 200 Words A Day (2WAD) can help you get back in the groove.
This isn’t the first app of its type, as we have seen others like 750 Words with a similar concept among apps to break writer’s block. But 750 words might be a bit much for a daily writing exercise. Plus, 200 Words seems about the right amount if you want to write about something that’s not about your novel. Pen your thoughts, talk in the community, or go on a random rant. As long as you are typing a minimum of 200 words on the screen, it counts as progress.
Your posts can be private or public. 2WAD also has an active Slack channel where its members help each other with motivation, relaxation, or general distraction.
YWriter (Android, iOS, Windows): Jot Notes on Different Parts of Novel
Writing a novel isn’t easy. You won’t always write it linearly, from the first chapter to the last. You’ll need to make notes about characters, places, plots, scenes, and so on. Ywriter makes all of that easy on your mobile.
You can break the entire novel into different chapters. Each chapter has multiple scenes as well. And characters get their own pages with character details. Any time you get a new idea, jump into that section with a few taps and start writing whatever you think of.
I find YWriter to be best as a mobile app, but there is a robust Windows version too with all of these features. But remember that YWriter isn’t a word processing software, it’s more to keep all your ideas in one place.
Download: YWriter for iOS ($4.99)
True Novelist (Web): Free Online Novel Writing App With Statistics
True Novelist is a free web app that addresses most of the needs of any novel writer. This includes a full-fledged word processor, along with plenty of organizational features.
The novel is, by default, broken up into categories (like story and research) and sub-categories (chapters, characters, places, scenes, etc.) You can rename any of the sub-categories, and you are free to add as much or as little as you want.
True Novelist also makes you accountable. It keeps a track of how many words you have written on any day, as well as how long you took for it. Over time, this provides a good snapshot of your productivity and writing streaks. The app also includes the option to set a daily goal for how many words you will finish each day.
Don’t worry about privacy or copyrights. True Novelist encrypts your entire novel before storing it online, and only you can access it with your password. And yes, you own 100% of your work.
Edward (Web): Robust Online Book Writer and Organizer
True Novelist is great because it is simple. For some people with an epic tale in their head, that might not be enough. Edward is a more robust online tool for authors to organize their thoughts and write the novel.
Edward divides the writing process into four steps: plan, outline, write, and analyze. Each tab has its own tools to help you organize your thoughts into something more coherent than the mish-mash of ideas in your head. One of the best ways to do this is by creating tags in Edward, which can then be applied in any of the four categories so you can cross-reference them.
The free version of Edward is a good place to start your novel and trial the software at the same time since it has most of the features of the paid version. If you find it useful, you can pay to get online storage and backup of all your ideas. If you don’t find it useful, just download everything you’ve written and move to a different app.
Brainstorm With Mind Mapping
For any beginner writer, these apps will guide you to take the first few steps into writing your magnum opus. You won’t magically become a good writer with them, but they will help you do what needs doing most: the act of writing.
But there will be days when you feel like thinking and ideating, instead of writing. Even on those days, you might want to turn to a few apps. For instance, try WriteMapper, one of the best mind-mapping apps to brainstorm ideas, especially for writers and authors.
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