First there was the hammer and chisel, then came the pen, followed by the typewriter, until finally came the advent of the word processor. This all-powerful writer’s tool’s best known incarnation is as the ubiquitous Microsoft Word — recognizable by its corporate blue hue and decidedly capitalist approach to software.
Whether you’re a free-spirited indie rallying against big corpo, or someone just looking for ways to upgrade on the word processing experience, we’ve rounded up a list of five free software and applications that can help boost your writing productivity.
IF YOU JUST NEED TO THROW WORDS DOWN ON ePAPER: Focuswriter
Most word processors are great for making text with a wide variety of layouts, but sometimes all of those menus and sidebars can get distracting. Focuswriter is a 100% frills-free writing software that gives you words — and nothing but words. You can customize your own backdrop, but be warned there is no built in spellcheck. Fortunately, that’s where our next software comes in…
IF YOUR GRAMMAR ISN’T TOO HOT: Grammarly
Fortunately for the digital natives out there, there’s Grammarly. Its sleek Google Chrome plugin (and Mac desktop app) can check your grammar and spelling anywhere you type. It’s not just helpful for creative work, but for emails and freelance assignments too — and of course, for our younger readers out there: your essays.
Grammarly also offers a paid version with more in depth-features, such as a weekly progress report (presumably to help you write good-er*) and a plagiarism checker.
*We know, we know. “Better.”
IF YOU HAVE THE ATTENTION SPAN OF A FIVE-YEAR OLD MILLENNIAL: StayFocusd
“There’s should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or video games for you to fool around with.”
Unfortunately for us in the new millenium, distractions seem all the more present as we hurtle further into the 21st Century. The Internet is an all-pervasive force in our lives, with plenty articles about the timesuck sinkhole it has become abound on… the Internet itself (hold on, we just got a little self-referential). But have no fear! Plugins like StayFocusd can help block website access during your ‘writing time’ so you can keep on writing, and keep off Facebook.
PS: Think you can cheat the blocker? Try extending your time with this plugin…
IF YOU THINK A HEALTHY BODY BEGETS A HEALTHY MIND: Seconds Interval Timer
Seconds can actually have a wide variety of applications — most relevant to the authorly breed of people, it can be used to time breaks so you can form better habits in your writing sessions. We personally recommend setting a 2 hour timer with 30 minutes of writing with 15 minute breaks in between. And hey! Maybe you can get a quick walk in during that time. Efficient!
IF YOU’RE TIRED OF THE SAME OLD TUNES… YouTube Radio Channels
When you are getting ready for a marathon writing session, making a dream playlist of your favorite tunes to work to can become time consuming. Believe it or not, there are hundreds of livestreamed channels on YouTube that serve as ambient music radio stations that play freshly mixed music 24/7. If you are looking for music that’s groovy enough to keep you focused but not intense enough to distract you, check out these stations: