Since I write for a living, I’m always trying to find new and more efficient ways to write. Simple, distraction-free writing that allows me to organize my writing in various ways is key but so is being able to access my writing from a variety of sources – because you never know when inspiration will strike! The obvious answer, then, is to use cloud-based writing programs that will automatically save my work and let me access it from wherever. Luckily there’s a number of options for us writers with a variety of features depending on what type of writing you do.
Google Drive and OneDrive
If you’re totally happy with the basic word processing available from Google Docs and Microsoft Word, then Google Drive and OneDrive are probably the simplest option for you. These cloud-based storage and word processing platforms are also incredibly useful if you already have a backlog of writing and notes that you want quick and easy access to while writing. Switching over all your writing to a new platform can be tedious so for the path of least resistance, these free options are available.
I’ve written about Evernote before as a productivity tool however I’m starting to cool on it’s use as a writing tool. As I write more and more, I find the notebook and tag system inadequate for organizing all my various notes, reference snippets, and article drafts. I’ve heard some people suggesting to make a separate Evernote account for each project or writing type that you do as a way to add another layer of organization to the system. If you really love writing in Evernote enough to go around making emails for each project to set up separate Evernote accounts, then you can certainly go for it. But the writing environment and tools available aren’t compelling enough to make me do that.
Novlr is a minimalistic writing editor designed with novel writers in mind. You get a nice plain greyish page with basic tool bar at the bottom so you can just… write. My favorite thing about this tool though is that you can keep detailed track of what you’ve accomplished. Novlr keeps a tally of total words written, how long you’ve spent writing, average words per day, and you can even see how many words you’ve written within a specific span of time. I can definitely see this being a useful tool for people participating in novel or short story writing events like NaNoWriMo. You can even export your writing as a PDF or .doc file if you want to work on it in another processor. The program is still technically in beta, but they have some intriguing ideas planned, like being able to set and track specific goals within the word processor.
Writebox takes minimalism to the extreme. Once you start typing, all the tools, options, and settings buttons melt away and all you see is the blank page and your words. Some people need as few distractions as possible when writing, so Writebox is just the trick. It can hook into your Dropbox or Google Drive to access files you already have there or save your current work in progress. There’s not much more to say about Writebox since its core premise is how minimalistic it is.
LitLift is pretty much the opposite of Writebox. It is incredibly feature-rich with the ability to track notes on characters, scenes, plotlines, settings, and even items in your stories. You can even use the program to try out different sequences of events. The writing editor itself is nice and plain though, offering a basic toolbar and buttons that access your various notes and ideas. The best part is the service is free and automatically backs up to the cloud, which gives it an edge over the much-loved Scrivener program that is paid-for and offline by default. While probably not a great program for article writers and bloggers, LitLift is certainly a sound choice for longer form writers.
Yarny manages to combine minimalist writing space with a lot of features to help you get that writing done. While typing, everything else fades away, but click the screen again and your full host of notes and tools comes up. On the right hand side you have notes you can sort into People, Places, and Things. On the left you have snippets that you can color code, rename and sort into groups. You can also add tags to the snippets to make searching through them easy. There’s a word count goal you can set for yourself if you choose, and when you do you get a helpful little progress bar that alerts you to how close you are to your goal. That’s definitely a great motivator if you’re into the ‘gamification’ of your productivity, like I am.