Resource hub for writers: 14 tools and templates to improve your writing
Becoming a good freelance writer takes time and effort. While no one can put in the work for you, there are tools that can help. You can improve your writing tremendously by simply increasing your focus, becoming a stronger editor, and creating processes for yourself.
No matter what kind of writer you are, these 14 tools, templates, and resources will help you become a better, faster, and more effective writer.
Writing and editing
Grammarly is a digital writing assistant that finds and corrects common grammar and spelling mistakes. It also improves style and tone by suggesting alternative wording or phrasing. Grammarly works online everywhere you do, including social media and your email inbox. Its browser extensions are free and run automatically in the background.
Why use it: Catch common grammar, spelling, and editing errors everywhere you write online, from Twitter to Google Docs.
2. Hemingway App
Hemingway App is a free editor that makes sure your writing is clear and properly structured. It shows you which sentences are too long or hard to read. Hemingway App will show you hints, phrasing alternatives, and editing prompts. It also gives your writing a readability score.
Why use it: Make sure your writing is clear enough for anyone to understand, including a sixth-grader!
Unlike other editing apps, Wordtune uses AI to review your writing and offer you completely new phrasing. Wordtune helps you express yourself better. It helps you write clearly by focusing on tone, flow, and word choice. There are both free and premium versions.
Why use it: It’s like having a friend read your writing and make thoughtful suggestions.
Built for copywriting, CopyAI helps you generate marketing copy based on simple descriptions. You can use it to generate ideas for headlines, blog intros, product descriptions, and more. You get 10 results at a time and it’s a great brainstorming tool to help you find the right words when they matter most. CopyAI is a paid product that offers a free trial.
Why use it: Quickly get ideas for headlines and product descriptions that convert.
5. OneLook Thesaurus
Every writer needs a thesaurus. OneLook is an online thesaurus and dictionary search tool that’s quick, simple, and free. Keep this tool bookmarked for easy reference. It also has a Google Docs add-on.
Why use it: Quickly find definitions and related words to use in your writing.
Productivity and organization
Ulysses is a writing app that helps you stay focused and organized. It offers a minimalist writing experience that keeps you zeroed in on the project at hand. Because it syncs across all your devices, it’s easy to make additions and edits on the go. Ulysses is a paid app for macOS and iOS users.
Why use it: Distraction-free writing and intuitive file organization that syncs across all your devices. It’s like Evernote but for writers.
ZenPen is a free web app that gives you a minimalist writing zone. It’s the closest you’ll get to a blank page online. It lets you add hyperlinks and quotes, but that’s about it. You can write in the browser and then copy and paste your text into an editor once you’re done.
Why use it: Shut out distractions while writing on your computer.
8. Tomato Timer
If you write well under pressure, use a timer. Tomato Timer and other, similar tools act as a digital stopwatch to help you establish a writing rhythm. You write for a certain amount of time, take a break, and repeat. A looming countdown can help you overcome resistance and be more productive.
Why use it: Short periods of distraction-free writing followed by breaks can be optimal for productivity.
Coffitivity is a white noise generator that recreates the ambient sounds of working in a coffee shop. There’s a whole library of sounds to choose from, including Lunchtime Lounge and Paris Paradise. Coffitivity is a great, free tool for anyone who finds it easier to focus with a little background noise.
Why use it: Channel your productivity with ambient background noise that reminds you of your favorite coffee shop.
Using task management software like Todoist, Asana, or Trello will help you break up big projects into manageable tasks. This helps you stay organized and meet your deadlines. Todoist, like most task management apps, syncs across all your devices so that you can stay on top of things no matter where you are.
Why use it: Reduce overwhelming tasks and get a handle on your workload by seeing everything you have to do in one place.
Templates and resources
11. Create your own swipe file
A swipe file is a place to store all the ideas and inspiration you come across in your daily life. It’s where you collect quotes, advertisements, newsletter copy, and anything else that lights up your imagination. By storing these things in one place—like in a folder or note on your phone—you can reference it every time you need inspiration.
Why use it: By having a folder of inspiration you’ll never be stuck for ideas again.
12. Pitch templates
Knowing how to pitch yourself is a crucial skill for any writer. Whether you’re a freelancer pitching a client, a journalist pitching a magazine, or a fiction writer pitching an agent, you need to know how to sell yourself. Having a template gives you a structure to follow. Be sure to personalize every email and keep it focused on how you can help them, rather than how they can help you.
Why use it: Having a structure to follow saves you time and gives you confidence when you’re pitching.
13. Outline templates
If you do the same type of writing all the time, you need to make templates. Opening a blank page and starting from scratch every time can be a huge productivity drain. Develop a framework and create research templates, blog outline templates, and even social media templates to help yourself get started.
Why use it: Save time and energy by creating a repeatable process for the writing you do regularly.
14. Style guides
A style guide is a standard of writing rules and best practices in a given field. The most common ones are The Associated Press Stylebook, The Chicago Manual of Style, and The MLA Handbook. If you’re working for a client, they may have their own style and branding guidelines for you to follow. Being comfortable with the best practices in your field is the mark of a professional writer. The Elements of Style is also a great book for all writers to reference.
Why use it: Understanding the writing standards in your field is a mark of professionalism.