Work Smarter, Not Harder with These 8 Free Apps for Writers

There’s nothing wrong with old-fashioned methods for organizing and editing your writing, but sometimes a free app can revolutionize your process. Whether you need help staying in the chair, editing your work, or keeping track of your ideas, here are eight free apps to assist you on your writing journey.


Turn your desktop into a peaceful writing center. FocusWriter helps minimizes distractions by concealing a cluttered computer screen with a simplified version of a word processor and calming background of your choice.

You can choose fonts and typing sounds, and easily turn off spell check and word count if those features distract you during your first draft. The program also allows you to set daily goals and timers to help you reach your target.  


Instead of juggling bookmarks and folders, store all documents related to your project in one visually appealing place. Milanote allows you to create a vision board that organizes text, photos, notes and to-do lists for everything from brainstorming and research to outlining and restructuring your novel.

You can easily pull items from your desktop to add to Milanote or upload from your phone using the mobile app when you’re out. It’s also great for collaboration if you’re writing with a partner or need an editor to take a look at where you are in the process.

Hemingway App

Scan your writing for readability with this free grammar editor, available online or to download to your desktop. Hemingway App can be used as a basic word processor, free of the distractions that come with a complicated toolbar and switched into color-coded editing mode to help you see where your writing can improve.


Created by programmer and author Simon Hayes, yWriter is a word processor designed with novel-writing in mind. Break up your text by chapter, scene, items and locations, and easily reorder or add in elements as your novel takes shape. This app is best suited to PC but there is a Mac version in beta testing.

A Soft Murmur

If you can’t find writing music that works for you, try A Soft Murmur. This app provides a collection of ambient sounds like coffee shop chatter or crackling fire that you can custom mix. Save your favorite combination of rain and crickets or listen to soothing waves on a timer set to the duration of your writing session.


A must for visual brainstormers, MindMeister allows you to build and share mind maps. Look for connections across ideas in the early stages of your story or use it to pinpoint remaining to-dos as you restructure your novel.


Banish anxiety around a difficult task by testing out the Pomodoro Technique using an app like Pomofocus. The app encourages you to breakdown your to-do list into manageable 25-minute segments, followed by five-minute breaks. Write your list, set the timer, and watch your task become less daunting.

One Look Thesaurus

When you’re stuck searching for that perfect word, One Look is your app. Use it as a reverse dictionary by typing in the rough definition of the word escaping your mind or explore a concept to find related words. Words are ranked by relevance and split up by part of speech, making it easy to narrow down your search.

No matter your writing approach, the right app can help you be more productive or at least provide some moral support along the way. There’s nothing to lose by experimenting with these writing tools – after all, they’re free!

  • Posted by Julia McAlpine
  • July 6, 2020 8:49 AM PDT
Whether you need help staying in the chair, editing your work, or keeping track of your ideas, here are eight free apps to assist you on your writing journey.




  • Why Does My Manuscript Ke...
    Here are five reasons why your manuscript may be rejected, and they have nothing to do with the quality of your writing!
  • Tips for Submitting Your ...
    There’s nothing magical about getting your work accepted. Here are some tips to give you a better chance of getting your work read and published.
  • How To Develop More Confi...
    Having fears, doubts and low confidence is all part of being a writer, whether you are new, experienced or even successful.
  • And Now for Book Two: How...
    There are a few ways a Book II is different from Books I, III and beyond. While no series is the same, many follow a set of suggestions that help Book II stand out.
  • 2021 Writers' Conferences
    We’ve compiled a list of 2021 writers’ conferences in the United States to help you find one that fits your needs.