Journalists and content marketing experts don’t typically spend long hours tied to their desks anymore. They’re on the move, covering events, chatting with thought leaders, and gathering information from the world around them. Then they just go back to their desks or laptops and pound out a stellar story that sets the world on fire (or at least one corner of the world). Right?
Not only do the best journalists, content creators, and pro bloggers have mad talent, but most of them also have a well-rounded digital toolbox full of apps and other tools at their disposal. While they’re incredibly helpful and I couldn’t get along without them, applications like DropBox, Evernote, and Google Drive & Docs are old news. I want share a few great tools with you that you might not have heard about.
Find Your Writer’s Sweet Spot With Killer Writing Tools
I’ve put together a list of my essential “secret weapons” along with some others that I’ve only recently started to use.
iTalk – The iTalk Recorder iPhone app allows users to record conversations and source interviews easily. The streamlined, intuitive interface allows you to choose from three levels of quality (11.025, 22.05, and 44.10 kHz sample rates). Manage all the recordings with just a fingertip then send the recorded interviews to the web (i.e. Soundcloud) or email them to yourself. If you spring for the pro version, which will set you back $1.99, you can save files to your DropBox. I recently replaced my shabby old digital recorder with this app and have loved it so far. I’ve used the better, but not the best, recording quality level in a variety of settings for my source interviews and the voices sound true and clear.
Cliché Finder – This free online tool will reveal hidden clichés in your writing. I don’t want to beat a dead horse about avoiding clichés, but I’ll leave no stone unturned when looking for them in my writing and so should you. Use this tool, and your clichés will be few and far between. See how I did that? Used clichés while I warned you about avoiding them? Heh heh.
Passive Voice Detectors – Any one who knows me as a writer, knows that I hate passive voice. Just say no to passive voice. Your readers will thank you…and may even feel inspired to return time and again to read more. I regularly use the To Be Verbs Analyzer to check for passive verbs, but I recently discovered and installed The Passivator, which also checks for adverbs. Use these to check your own writing, or, as the developer of The Passivator says, “…when you suspect a page of lacking the proper active outlook, click The Passivator, and witness weak writing – yours, that of your favorite or least favorite blogger, or that of the New York Times – in its yellow-and-blue glory.”
Scrible – I love Scrible and you will too. And best of all, it’s free. Just install the Scrible toolbar and transform the way you research on the Web. Use this powerful little tool to annotate web pages in multiple colors and styles, save online research and access it from anywhere, tag and organize your research by topic, and share annotated research with others. It works well with iPads too, so you can research from the local Starbucks and pick up your research on a desktop or laptop later on.
Scrivener – Ever wish you could have all your little sticky notes, research, fragmented ideas, index cards, and draft versions all in one, easily accessible place? Scrivener gives you just that. Whether you write novels, academic papers, print stories, or digital content, Scrivener allows you to have everything associated with your project at your fingertips in one application. It’s affordable and will transform the way you handle longer writing projects. You can even continue editing and taking notes on your iPad or iPhone, then sync them back to your project when you return to your computer.
iMindMap – My good friend, Rob O’Dell, introduced me to the concept of mind mapping back in August 2012 and I’ve been using it ever since. When looking for mind mapping software, you’ve got quite a few good ones to choose from. I chose iMindMap because it includes such vibrant, beautiful graphics. You can use mind maps to organize and enhance productivity and creativity in your writing, for sure. But don’t stop there. I use them to plan my kids’ activities, organize my daughter’s homeschooling lessons, and to help me visualize and achieve my fitness goals.
FreshBooks – If you write, you probably want to get paid. I know I do. FreshBooks provides freelancers with an all-in-one accounting solution that includes invoicing, time tracking, expenses, quotes, and all manner of accounting reports. And they’re on the cloud now, too. Download the mobile app and track time, send and receive invoices, and record expenses on the fly. Whether it’s just you, or you have a whole team, you can keep track of it all with this powerful tool.
What’s in your writing toolbox? Open it up and share your favorites with us.