Whether it’s a calling, a passion, a way to make money – or some combination of all three, writing is a very rewarding way to spend my time, lest I’m biased.
But before you head out to your favorite cafe with a typewriter and a funky hat (neither of which are actual requirements of the profession), hear this out. There are actually many online tools that can help you build your career as a wordsmith – without spending a dime.
In this list, I’ve included 11 of my absolute favorite (and completely free) writing tools currently on the market. Whether you’re looking for a distraction-free writing platform, a way to save your ideas on the go, or a keen editing buddy – there’s something for every writer in these freebies. Keep scrolling to find your new favorite free writing tool.
1. Google Docs
It’s not glamorous, but it’s free, and it definitely gets the job done. With tons of free storage, and endless ways to organize your work into folders (and share it with other writers and editors), Google Docs is a must-have for any serious writer.
You can only access Google Docs by signing in to (or signing up) with a Gmail account. From there, you can create new documents and folders, spreadsheets (which can be super helpful for tracking your taxable income), and more.
Think of Drafts as an online, distraction-free word processor. With many of the same features as Google Docs, Drafts offers a cleaner, simpler interface. If you are someone who gets easily distracted while writing, you might want to give Draft a try.
One of the best things about this word processor is the automatic word-count tracker, which allows you to set and easily track your daily word count goals.
Another great free tool for easily distracted writers, FocusWriter answers the call with that perfect blank-page look, and no fussy settings or extra controls to get in the way.
Customize your background theme, set a timer or alarm, and then get to work. Since this application is available via download rather than a web browser, you will need one of its supported devices. Fortunately, FocusWriter is available on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.
It doesn’t get any easier than Sprinter, a windowed online writing platform that allows you to set a timer (or not) and just “free-write”. (Re-intended. The company is also behind Freewrite—a line of smart typewriters that will satisfy any writer’s aforementioned hipster-cafe fantasies).
Drafts can be saved and accessed through the company’s online platform, or copied and pasted into any word processor. In addition to the timer and old-school typeface (which is especially satisfying for some reason), this free platform also includes real-time word count and “read-time” to help you determine the length of your current draft.
If you’re a new writer just wanting to dip your big toe in and make a name for yourself, you might want to try using Medium. This blogging website offers a neat distraction-free writing experience and allows you to get your work out to more people than you would by starting your own blog.
You can write and publish your work for free, and even submit it to Medium’s publications (to get a closer look at your writing). Whenever I meet a new writer who wants to get out there, I always recommend submitting these publications. Not only do they create impressive samples to show to potential clients, but it also teaches you how to tailor your writing for certain audiences and platforms—an important skill if you’re looking to get paid to write.
If you’re a highly visual type of writer looking for an organizational tool more than a writing interface, you might want to give Milanote a try. It provides a great way to compile all your images, notes, and anything else into one easy-to-use visual board.
Once you give Milanote a try, it’s easy to see how it’ll be helpful for longer essays or larger projects like books, where you have tons of ideas and notes to track. This can also be a useful brainstorming tool if you like to create a mood board for your writing assignments.
Although the paid version of Milanote is $9.99 per month, there is also a free version that includes up to 100 notes, images or links, and unlimited shared boards with other users.
While it’s not strictly a tool for writers, Evernote is a great application to learn about. Similar to Milanote (but less mood-board-ish and more about note-taking), Evernote allows you to organize all your notes and ideas in one place. I especially like Evernote for the way it syncs seamlessly across devices.
Use it to make notes on the go, then open the app on your laptop and dive back in to where you left off. You can use the basic version of Evernote for free, or get some more benefits by paying $7.99 per month.
8. Hemingway Editor
If you’re looking for a free way to edit your work before submitting it to an editor, the Hemingway app is a great way to go. This free online tool allows you to paste your completed article or essay and get instant feedback on everything from grammar to formatting and even readability.
I especially like it for this last point, as the app emphasizes the use of simple language and short sentences, both of which will help improve your writing and make your editor’s life easier.
For writers who need some extra help with Grammarly, you may want to try Grammarly, which can be downloaded to your device or used as a browser extension. This free tool provides quick feedback on grammar as well as clarity, word variety and intonation.
Some editors even require their freelance writers to use grammar when starting out, so if you’re not feeling 100% in your ability to draft grammatically correct prose, this is the place to start. Is a wonderful place.
For long working bodies like novels and other books, this free downloadable word processor can prove invaluable. Combining a clean, distraction-free interface with tons of great organization tools—like the ability to split your work into scenes or chapters and revisit them later—makes yWriter one of the best free writing tools on the market. Is.
The best part about YWriter is that it was created by an author for writers. Offering some functionality similar to paid tools like Scrivener, YWriter is a great one to get your work done once it reaches thousands of words in length and organization becomes imperative.
11. Readsey Book Editor
For the author who already has a substantial piece of work and wants to edit it, consider trying out the ReadC Book Editor. This platform offers much more than just editing. It has a vast network of freelance editors, designers, and publicists available to help you get your manuscript up to speed, whether you’re sending it to a literary agent or self-publishing.
While you’ll have to pay for advanced services, you can use the free formatting tools on their website, which allow you to format your manuscript as an epub or pdf, something you need to do before publishing. Have to do it, no matter how you want to do it. In addition to these tools, the company also offers a variety of free online mini-courses for writers, including a self-publishing course, a marketing course for published authors, and a course to help jumpstart your novel. Is.
Writing isn’t easy, but when it comes to everything else—editing, formatting, and even publishing—there’s a free tool that can help. The best part about getting comfortable using these online tools is that you will actually get better at your craft by using them.
Platforms like Medium and ReadC can help you better understand what it takes to get published, while Drafts and FocusWriter can help increase your daily word count. Once you get into a groove, you may find that you need these tools less and less, which is an obvious way to gauge your growth as a new writer.
Contributor Larissa Runkle specializes in finance, real estate, and lifestyle topics. He is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
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