Writing can be the lowest tech endeavor you ever pursue, but who wants that? Let’s look at some software, strategies, and products that can improve your writing process and overall experience. Work smarter, not harder!
Best Software For Writers
Here are my top software recommendations for writers, whether you struggle to hit word count goals, stay focused, plan your novel, or actually sell books.
1. Hit Word Count With Cold Turkey Writer
Cold Turkey Writer is great for writers who have trouble focusing, writers who like to work in sprints, and writers who are easily distracted by the internet.
Cold Turkey Writer is a drafting program that locks you out of your entire computer until you have completed either a word-count or time-based writing goal. You cannot get out of it once you lock in until you have reached the goal. It’s a great, minimalist way to structure writing sprints.
Cold Turkey isn’t really for full drafting, like I wouldn’t write my whole book in there, but I’ll do writing sprints to get my words down, then copy it into my regular writing program to look it over and edit it. Cold Turkey is for getting that first immediate draft out, because that’s often the hardest part of writing!
Cold Turkey Writer – $9
Lightweight, distraction-free drafting tool. You cannot close or end the writing sprint until you have achieved the goal, time-based or word count.
2. Write with NovelPad
NovelPad is fantastic for most, if not all, steps of the writing process. It’s got a straightforward, distraction-free drafting page. It has a robust note-taking feature that lets you link any note to any other element of your manuscript. The notes are a great place for brainstorming, worldbuilding, character development, editing and revision notes.
I love how organized the whole thing is. You get this great overview shot of your whole book with scene and chapter cards you can click and shuffle around.
It comes with a ProWritingAid integration, so you can start your editing process right in the drafting software.
My favorite feature is the side-by-side scene revisions.
You can save infinite revisions of any scene and see them side by side. You click to swap which version is in your live manuscript, so you can change your mind at any point, and all of those revisions will stay safe and attached to that scene.
NovelPad also has writing workshops included with the subscription, where they match you up with other writers in your genre for regular meetings and feedback.
There’s a commitment-free, no credit card required two-week trial, and you can download everything you’ve written if you decide not to stick with NovelPad afterward. No reason not to try it out!
NovelPad – $15/month or discounted for $120/month
Novel writing software designed to help you organize, write, and edit novels — online or offline, anywhere, on any device.
3. Sell Books with Koji
The next tool is called Koji, which is a link-in-bio system where you can organize everything you want to link your audience to. You can sell ebooks, link your socials, sell downloads, create video courses, grow your mailing list, and interact with your audience through AMA apps, games, anonymous messaging, and exclusive content.
4. Focus with Virtual Cottage
This next one is so unnecessary but so cute—Virtual Cottage is a productivity app, free to use on Steam. I like set it up during writing sessions.
It’s just a little cartoon cottage with a character working at a desk. You can set timers, a focus for your day, and a to-do list. You can toggle between a cat or a dog to sit on the floor next to you, which is very important.
For my ambient sound writers, it has audio options like rain, snow, wind, fire crackling, and lofi, and you can control the volumes individually.
5. Brainstorm with chatGPT
You can use chat Ais to help with writing in all kinds of ways.
I’ve given chatGPT an overview of a plot, and it gave me a beat sheet.
I’ve described my book and asked for a list of title suggestions.
You can ask it for suggestions on plot holes or character development.
Before they restricted what it was allowed to say, I would give it the plot of a book for my erotica pen name, and it would give me a progressive list of escalating sex scenes for that subgenre. It doesn’t let you do that anymore. 🙁
But there are so many ways it can help you. You can even use it for blog or video content! Try giving it a category and asking for a list of topics related to it. They won’t all be perfect, but keep asking in different ways until you find what you want.
And it is free to use!
Best Strategies For Writers
Okay, let’s move onto writer strategies to improve your process.
1. Social media alternatives
Social media is not reliable. You can lose your account on any platform without any hope of getting it back. Shadow banning, copyright strikes, account takedowns, false spam reports, anything can happen, and it does, all the time.
Make sure you have at least one (but preferably more) connections to your readers that you control. This could be an author site, a Substack, a general mailing list—I use Flodesk to manage my mailing list and newsletters. Check the link below or 50% off your first year, if you’d like to check it out.
Make sure you cross-promote your different platforms, so if you are still relying on social media, you at least have a comparable following on multiple sites in case one of them tanks.
There are lots of options, so give some thought to building reliable connections to your readers.
Email marketing manager that lets you create pretty, effective email campaigns without coding.
2. Ebook backlinks
I’ve been experimenting with this, and it makes a HUGE difference in sales between books where I’ve done this and books where I haven’t: Include links to your other books in the back of your ebooks.
Self-pubs can control pretty much everything, so if you’re self-published, don’t skip this. Go through your old ebooks to link your recent publications at the end. This way, anyone who makes it through that book, probably really liked it, so if you give them an opportunity to read more from you, there’s a good chance they will.
If you have 1 book and 20 readers, you’ve sold 20 books. If you have 5 books in that subgenre, niche, or series, and you link them all together, those same 20 readers can become 100 book sales.
If you have a huge library of publications, be a little strategic in what you link—try to keep your genres and subgenres grouped together so there’s a higher chance of a reader who moves through that buy link to enjoy that one, then it can just chain react them buying up that series or possibly all you’ve published in that genre. For example, if you wrote a self-help book and a sci-fi adventure, linking between those won’t get you many extra sales. If you have a romance series, linking to the next book will convert most of your readers who make it to the end.
The attention of a reader who reads to the end of your ebook is very valuable. So don’t just toss that attention back into the void. Pass it somewhere else.
Mindmapping is a very basic tool, but it’s great for brainstorming. You just write your word or problem in the middle of a piece of paper, then write down all of your ideas attached to that first one, then move out from there.
This is great for nonfiction, in particular, because you can start with your book’s main focus, then branch off from there. Each of those branches could be a section in your book, then each branch from those could be chapters, et cetera.
Here’s an amazing example of a mindmap in my very legible penmanship:
Best Products for Writers
Okay, our last category of writer tool is product recommendations.
1. Ergonomic products
Everyone has different needs, workstyles, and budgets, so the products you choose here will vary.
But as examples, I use a split keyboard, an ergonomic mouse, and a standing desk (all linked below).
You could also use eyecare products like blue light glasses, or color settings for your screen, like flux.
Investing in things that can save your body in the long run is a great idea, especially if you’re spending most of your day at your desk. You just get the one body, after all.
2. Lemome notebook
This is my favorite notebook! The cover is so soft, the pages are thick, it has a bookmark, close strap, pen holder and interior pocket. It has been the only style of notebook I buy for at least five years now, and I have tried a lot of notebooks.
3. Sharpie S-Gel pens
My favorite pen is the Sharpie S-Gel. It’s the best thing I’ve ever written with. It is so smooth and never smears.
Let me know if you try any of these out!