9 must-have tools for online writers

Seeking to root out clichés or overcome writer’s block? There’s an app—or some program—for that. Take a look.

When it comes to writing for the Web, competition is steadily growing fierce. We’ve had it drilled into our heads that “content is king,” but great content is what gets results.

The thing nobody ever tells you, though, is how you are supposed to create all this great content.

If you dread staring at a blank screen and fret about coming up with something groundbreaking, don’t worry. You’re not alone.

It’s worth noting that the resources you’re about to read about aren’t the same, old lists of sites and apps that everyone already knows about. (Google Docs and Evernote, anyone?) They also aren’t well suited to fiction writers, screenwriters, or individuals looking for guided help to create meaningful characters, plots, and other story devices.

However, if you want to produce better Web content faster, these apps, websites, and software programs can turn a blank screen into a creative bonfire:

Wordcounter

More than just a simple word counter, this online service will help you spot overused words in your writing, even down to the smallest “ifs,” “ands,” and “buts,” if you want it to be that detailed. As a bonus, if you’re writing with a slant toward SEO, you can also use the Wordcounter to track the number of keywords in a document.

Cliché Finder

If you’re at your wit’s end with clichés, you don’t need to go back to the drawing board. You just need to check it with Cliché Finder. This neat tool will find and uncover clichés in your writing-phrases that have been used so much by so many people that they’ve lost their original punch.

Creativity Portal’s Imagination Prompt

If you hate blogger’s block, the Imagination Prompt can help by giving you a simple writing prompt to get you started. Prompts can be as simple as “What is truth?” to as complex as “Tomorrow, I will do it differently…here’s how.”

You can also add onto these prompts by giving them your own twist, such as “What is truth in advertising?” or, “What sets your product apart from the crowd?”

Unstuck App

Unstuck promotes itself as an app to get “on-demand coaching whenever you need it.” It offers mind maps, to-do lists, and other tools that help you break things down into manageable chunks.

Stuck moments can be anything from, “I want to repair my relationship with my dad,” to, “Should I go back to work?” to, “How do I get my 12-year-old to eat healthier?” Unstuck is built on the principle that all you need to reach a solution is to let everything out, clear your head, and create a workable plan with workable goals.

For writing, Unstuck can help you clarify the goal of your article or post and find your writing groove by creating milestones that organize what you want to say while helping you avoid going off on a tangent.

Zen Writer

Zen Writer is a software program (under $10) that minimizes distractions such as checking your email or Facebook by encompassing your entire screen and making you devote it solely to writing.

Therapeutic music and natural scenery show in the background (which explains the program’s 60+ MB size) and all the extra stuff you might expect to find in a writing program—such as formatting, headings, and tables-are stripped away so that it’s just you and your words.

Byword

Byword is a neat app available on both Windows and Mac App stores that enables you to write something (a new chapter, a blog post, or any type of written content) on one device and share it with others.

You can export your writing to HTML, PDF, and rich text, and the device syncs to iCloud and Dropbox as well. This is a great way to jot down thoughts, new topic ideas, or creative inspirations as they happen, and then follow up with them later.

Readability

Readability is not so much a writing app as it is a reading one. It removes all the clutter from Web pages, giving you an easy-to-read document that you can save on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. With a clean, uncluttered view, you can finally read all those articles and posts you set aside for later. Readability is also available as an extension for Firefox.

StayFocusd (Google Chrome app)

True to its name, Stayfocusd is a Google Chrome app that enables you to limit the time you spend on time-sapping websites.

It’s incredibly customizable in that you can temporarily block entire websites, subdomains, and even in-page content such as videos and games. You can also choose how long to block them out, so if you absolutely have to water your plants on Farmville, you can do it in an hour.

Synchroedit

Ever wish that you and your colleagues could work on the same file without passing around different versions or accidentally overwriting the other’s work? With Synchroedit, you can. This editing program lets multiple users edit the same document at the same time online. Because Synchroedit is fully WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), you can employ common formatting styles like bold, italics, indents, and list styles.

What are your favorites?

Got a writing tool you can’t live without? Whether it’s an online service, a program, or an app, share it in the comments and tell us how it helps you!

Sherice Jacob helps website owners improve conversion rates through landing page design, consulting, and copywriting. Learn more and download your free conversion checklist and Web copy tune-up from iElectrify.com. A version of this article first appeared on The Daily Egg. (Image via)

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