Out of a blank surface, a writer can create magic without entering Hogwarts to find tools for writing. Honestly, writing is no magic, and a pencil is not a wand. A pencil? Yes, pencil or pen, a traditional instrument for writing. In the words of American novelist Nelson DeMille, he utters, “I like the process of pencil and paper as opposed to a machine. I think the writing is better when it’s done in handwriting.”
With the fast-paced change of communication, a machine is already a powerful instrument in writing, not just a pointed wood with a graphite eye. Please, don’t get me wrong, I still use pen/pencil and paper before I hand my piece to a mechanical artifice to get across my readers, similar to what you are reading now. I know, some conventional writers are still adamant to using modernize tools for writing, like smartphone apps. They think Shakespeare didn’t use any of those kinds of stuff but still became an all-time authority in writing. Well, not in the 21st century where writers have even created new titles, such as blogger, content writer, copywriter, and millennial writer (ring a bell?).
Enough talking about the traditional way of writing, those old school writers are already used to their routine. We should respect them. If you want to add spice to your writing for modern readers, here are the tools that you can use. They can easily transform your output into an almost magical piece of craft.
1. Ask the Public
The so-called writer’s block is one of the villains a writer can face before drafting a single word. Brainstorming becomes the vehicle to overcome such an enemy. Despite its effectivity, the fast-moving job market will not give you the luxury of time to get everything off your mind. Luckily, Ask the Public can save a lot of your time in jotting down all your ideas. It is a quick tool where you can have all the possible words, phrases, or questions connected to your subject. Try it yourself, key in the word “blogging” and you’ll have the result similar to a gigantic mind map as you can see below.
I apologize for those who can’t relate here. You can ask Google or Bing if you need help with unfamiliar terms. Ready? Okay. If you are working on a project that requires an SEO-specific content but you’re on a budget, you don’t need to register with Google AdWords (since July 2018, it’s already called Google Ads). KWFinder will give you the same keywords sought out by search engines. Just go to kwfinder.com and put the word or phrase you want to write about and choose the suggested ones which can give organic traffic to your site.
You can breathe now if you feel choked with the previous item. We are back to writing again. One of the struggles of every writer is choosing the right words to give a better rendition of the idea he or she wants to convey. Needless to say, a thesaurus can provide you with a lot of options to choose from. What’s good with Alliteration.me is the wide array of word choices alphabetically arranged. In addition, it also has other specialties not available in a thesaurus, such as Synonym Seeker, Part of Speech, and Sentence Supplier. You don’t need to guess: all are in alliterated form.
4. The Idioms
Aside from choosing the right words, picking a more colorful idiomatic expression can produce a better taste to your writing than a bland, simple word. For example, instead of using “ugly,” you can say, “stormy relationship” or “can’t stand the sight of.” The tool defines the idiom with examples for you to have a better understanding of its use in a particular context.
It is not boastful to say that writers (the tenured fellows) can be officially called grammarians. However, there are times when we become too familiar with our own voice that we can’t recognize our own errors. Grammarly is a widely used Grammar Checker and you don’t need to guess, it’s FREE! If you want to enjoy more features, however, like its plagiarism checker, you can pay for a premium upgrade at a low cost. The free highlights can correct your spelling, punctuation, basic subject-verb agreement, pronoun precedence, and prepositions. By the way, do you hate the Oxford comma? If you do, don’t be surprised because Grammarly will gladly underline your writing with bothersome red marks.
A word of caution: similar to other grammar checkers, Grammarly can’t give you a smooth, human quality of editing, so it is still better to regularly review your grammar lessons. But, of course, if you are good at it, you can easily identify the errors of the tool.
One last, go to Grammarly (if you already have an account), type a sentence and highlight a single word. It’ll give you other word choices similar to a thesaurus but of course, with a limited selection. (See the photo below for an example of devouring a donut.)
6. Google Drive
Lost or unsaved files are the most devastating experience of a writer. If you are a traditional writer, you know well how hard it is to keep your papers safe after you have laboriously handwritten or typewritten your piece. With modern writing tools, you can already go paperless. You don’t even need a USB drive or yes, a floppy disc (LOL) to save your articles. Have you heard about the cloud? Not the one you see up the blue sky. A cloud is a software where you can save files. What you only need is an internet connection and account. If you have a Google account, you can use Google Drive which offers documents, spreadsheets, and slides similar to what Microsoft Office has. Once you saved your file, it’s already there forever. You can always access it every time you log in to your account. You can always open the file with the same words and format the last time you left. Well, yes, Grammarly also has this feature.
Now, we come to non-writing skills that you need to adopt if you don’t want to be left behind. Whether you like it or not, people nowadays love visuals rather than a plain text. Visit your Facebook feeds or Twitter tweets. Go, look at them. What can you observe? As you can see, content with visuals, such as video, photo, animated GIF, and infographic, has more reactions and shares than a long, unadorned, sentence-structured post. To address the likes of our audience, we have to add flavoring to our craft.
You can register with Canva for free either by directly creating an account or through your Google or Facebook account. The tool has plenty of free templated graphic designs that you can manipulate to suit it to your liking. So, if you want a high-grade content but you’re not a talented or skillful designer like me, why not try Canva or other templated apps like PicMonkey. After all, professional graphic designers do not use free apps. The word explains why, because they are professionals.
If you think writer’s block, word choice, and design are the only challenge for a writer, you are not only wrong, but you have also overlooked the most precious commodity: TIME. The phrase “I can’t find a time to write” is as false as the claim “the earth is flat.” Why find time when it has always been existing before you and I come to being? Also, whether you are a businessperson, an employee, a jobless person, a self-employed, or whatever you call yourself, we all have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Where can you find time to add to the existing ones? “What do you mean?” You might ask. What I mean is that we need to be more skillful in managing our time for it to work for us instead of looking for a non-existing extension. You can’t find one more hour a day or one more day a week to sit down and write. You should choose an hour within 24 hours for you to write. It’s not about finding time. It’s about making writing a habit or a part of your daily life cycle.
Alright, alright. We’re done with the sermon about time. Here comes our last tool for today: Buffer. It is an app where you can organize your schedule. The best thing with this tool is that you can sync it with your social media platforms and let the app post for you according to your arranged or scheduled day and hour of posting. Similar to Google brands, you can also connect Buffer to your smartphone. With this, you can save more time than before, especially if you partner it with Evernote (another app organizer). You will also feel more productive unless being procrastinator is already running in your veins.
Go on now, try any of these tools for writing or add the ones you don’t have yet in your list. If you already have them, better. Actually, there are a plethora of devices out there that you can use. If you have other writing or non-writing tools, we will be glad to see them if you want to share any of your apps in the comment box. Thanks for your time. I’ll be waiting for your shares or feedback. Have a nice day!