In the times before the advent of computers and the internet, writers had to rely purely on instinct and education to create their writing. The barrier for entry was huge, and the competition tiny. Nowadays, anyone who knows how to put together a sentence can be a writer. That’s not the only requirement, obviously, but you can’t discount the fact that anyone with a WordPress and the time to put “writer” in their Twitter bio is your competition.
So how do you stand out from the sea of non-skilled amateurs (especially if you yourself are an amateur)? We’ve already discussed how the only way to become good at writing is to write habitually. But there are a few tricks you can do to get better at your craft. Namely, using tools that provide shortcuts for editing and boost productivity. Check them out!
The creator of these tools parsed 100 GB of text to create a way of searching for popular word pairings and words related to them. Describing Words searches for ways to describe any noun you input in the box — for instance, you’ll find out that the most popular ways of describing a woman are “beautiful”, “poor”, and “older”, and for a man they are “white”, “dead”, and “poor”. It’s a clever way of checking if your descriptions are cliché, and you can use Related Words to find substitutions for those clichés.
Don’t abuse it, though. Sometimes the route of familiarity is the best way to go, and using too many uncommon phrases or words can be jarring to readers.
You already know how the Pomodoro technique can boost your productivity and make you a high-output writer. This little web tool is one of the better Pomodoro timers. You can adjust the length of focus times and break times to whatever you like, and it includes the option for long and short breaks. Also includes an audio alert so you know you can get up from your computer guilt-free when you hear the sound.
The Story Starter boasts the capability to generate 271,891,534,492 story ideas. Let’s take them at their word.
Writing something that came from a story generator is a fun little exercise you can do as an aperitif to your actual writing. Think of it like stretching before going for a run — it’s entirely optional, but you’ll have an easier time if you do it. And if you’re the type of writer who gets blocked frequently, writing something silly just for fun with no pressure for it to be a masterpiece or please your editor can be the cure you need.
“The soft-spoken stock broker planted seeds at the supermarket at sunset to complete the coverup.”
Is your mind coming up with ideas already? Start writing!
If you’ve got troubles with outlining your thoughts before you commence writing, this tool can be the solution to your problem. It’s made specifically for outlining essays, but can also be used for creating a blog post. Here’s how it works: input the topic for your essay, the introduction, three main theses you have for the piece, the argumentation/expansion of those points, and the conclusion. The website will then give you a handy-dandy .pdf you can print out and keep in front of you to keep your writing on track.
AutoCrit is a nifty little tool that analyzes your writing, and gives you suggestions on areas that need improvement. It’s geared towards highlighting stylistic errors, like passive voice, clichés, repetitions, and other stuff copy editors will tell you to correct.
It also analyzes your writing for pacing issues, and will show you a graph on with an analysis of the length in your sentences and paragraphs so you can keep it consistent.
It’s a paid tool, but you can get away with using their free analysis to get all the features described above.
Expresso is a tool that analyzes your text for errors — and this one is all free!
It highlights all the things they told you to avoid in English class: weak verbs, filler words, negations, noun clusters, passive voice, among others. It also show you all kinds of metrics on your text, from common ones like wordcount to what percentage what parts of speech take up in your text. It’s in beta, though, so expect some of the typical early adopter issues.
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