Looking for writing resources for a project? These are my current useful and free favorites. Give them a try. I heartily recommend them all. They make writing easier, and because it’s easier, you’re likely to do more of it.
1. The Guide to Grammar and Writing: improve your language skills.
Everyone needs a brush up on their language skills occasionally. The Guide to Grammar and Writing is easy to use, and organized well. Get help on words, sentences and paragraphs, plus everything from writer’s block to proofreading symbols.
I also like the Grammarly Handbook.
And if you don’t have a copy of the classic, The Elements of Style, you can download a PDF here.
2. Words, words, words: OneLook.
OneLook is more than a dictionary: it indexes dictionaries, over a thousand of them. So, if you haven’t found a word in your favorite online dictionary, chances are that you’ll find it with OneLook.
OneLook is a wonderful brainstorming tool as well. You’ll love it if you adore crosswords. Just enter any word, phrase or pattern.
3. Markdown: the writer’s friend.
I love Markdown. Passionately. You can turn plain text (more or less plain, anyway) into anything you choose. Turn your Markdown file into HTML, RTF, PDF, and more.
Once your text is in a Markdown document, it takes seconds to repurpose it. I often use it to: create Web pages for clients, then repurpose the text into a PDF for them to share, and create social media snippets for them as well. If you’re writing anything at all that you need to move from one format to another, you need Markdown.
My writing process for everything from books to social media posting involves Markdown. I want to keep this article to free resources, but here’s what I currently use: Byword (because I can go distraction-free, full screen at a key press) and Marked to Scrivener, or to HTML. Byword and Marked are both Mac apps, and they’re not free, but they’re worth every cent, many times over, as is Scrivener.
4. Evernote: your external brain.
If you’re not an Evernote user, get started. It’s completely free, and your Evernote “stuff” is available to you everywhere, on many different devices. Evernote has saved my sanity more often than I can count.
Many creative workers use Evernote. Author Tim Ferriss used Evernote to write his bestselling The 4-Hour Chef. Many writers keep draft manuscripts and backup files in Evernote, as well as all their working materials.
Read the Evernote Blog’s Tips and Stories category to be inspired by how others use Evernote. I’ve been using Evernote since 2009; it truly is my external brain.
5. Freemind: brainstorm and present.
Freemind is a mind mapping app. I use NovaMind as my day to day mind mapping tool, but if I’m sharing maps with others, or am collaborating on a project, I use Freemind because anyone can use it, no matter what kind of operating system their computer uses.
Freemind is not only useful for brainstorming, and to structure projects, it’s also useful as a presentation tool.
6. Diigo: keep your bookmarks organized, and use them.
Diigo is basically a bookmark manager, but it’s much more. I started using it to track content in my own blogs, and for clients’ blogs, but now I use it for many different projects. If you work with Web content, Diigo helps you to store relevant links, as well as notes for those links.
When I start working with a client, I create a list of bookmarks for their project. Then I delete the list when it’s done.
7. Quip: write, chat and collaborate, in place.
Quip is browser-based collaborative word processor. I use Quip with my book coaching students, and with many clients, because it’s easy. There’s nothing special to learn, and it tracks changes. You can even chat, no matter what document you’re working on.
8. Trello: track your blogging and your ebooks.
Trello’s especially useful for blogging. If you’re a professional blogger, and blog for others, you’ll bless Trello. You can create a Trello board for each blog, so that you can focus on one blog at a time. And if you blog on the go as I often do, you can check your boards anywhere, on any device – Android, iOS, or Windows 8 Tablet.
I also use it for plotting novels and short stories, and for much more. I often create a board for a client project, so that I can see where we are at a glance.
If you haven’t tried these free writing resources, give them a go. You may find the perfect tool which makes writing easier and less stressful.