Creative Free Web Apps for Rebellious Writers

OneLook: This is a beautiful, multi-functional thesaurus, and reverse dictionary. Look up the description of that word you can’t think of, and the site makes at least 100 suggestions. You can also look up single words, and the site suggests synonyms that can be sorted by the letter they start with, rhymes with…, primary vowel, and more.

WorkFlowy: Another favourite of mine: summarise the main points of your story or article, and then easily move them around to order them in a way that makes sense. You can have sub-points and order those, and then hide them to work on the main points.

Hemingway App: I like this app because it helps you see your writing in a different way. Often once I’ve finished a draft, I struggle to imagine it being written in any other way, or to see beyond the more obvious writing flaws. Hemingway goes through your text and highlights any adverbs, use of passive tense, phrases that have a simpler alternative, sentences that are too hard to read, and sentences that are “very hard” to read. In many cases, you may disagree with the program, but it’s great to get this sort of feedback and be forced to look at one’s writing in a more critical way.

Trello: You can use Trello to map out your ideas, and it’s especially useful for larger projects rather than shorter stories. I’m using Trello to map out my next novel, with lists for structure, plot, themes, symbols, and the two main characters. Under themes, for example, each theme has its own card, and in the card I have the message and plot for each theme. When you’re writing a novel, juggling all this stuff, and keeping all your ongoing metaphors and character development in mind can be tough, but with Trello you can see all these things at a glance.

Oneword: Sometimes you’re distracted or not feeling creative, and a quick creative writing exercise can get your brain into gear and even prompt you to think of those first few ideas you need to start on your writing. I’ve created a lot of creative exercises especially designed for critical thinkers and rebellious writers, but Oneword is a really quick and easy exercise. It gives you one word, and you have one minute to write about that word. You have to write non stop for that full minute, letting any old random crap flow out of you. It’s great :)

750words: It’s important that writers don’t get bogged down in word counts, because writing is more than just verbal diarrhoea  – it’s research, brainstorming, and editing as well. But if a certain amount of daily writing output is important to you, this app can be pretty amazing: You have a clean slate to write in and you get awards and points for writing something, for writing a full 750 words, for writing three days in a row, and so on. You also get a tonne of stats, including an analysis of your common words, themes, and feelings.

Cliche Finder: Cliches are boring, unoriginal, and tend to reinforce stereotypes or the status quo. I designed a writing exercise specifically on this topic, but the cliche finder is a great and simple tool where you can paste text, and it will highlight any cliches. Get rid of them all!

Realtimeboard: I’d love it if there were better brainstorming tools out there that are aimed at writers and creatives rather than businesses. There are a lot of mindmapping tools, but often you want to brainstorm something without the complexities of shapes and arrows. Good old text programs will do for now, but something like an online whiteboard that isn’t as linear as text programs would be nice – if you know of an app, let me know. Meanwhile, there’s Real Time Board, which lets you choose from a range of templates, including mindmaps, strategising boards and a whole heap of stuff for businesses. But in the blank template you can add, arrange and change the colours of various sticky notes: giving you a non lineal way to brainstorm ideas and connect them together.