If you’re like most academics, you have many demands on your time. Wouldn’t it be nice if some of those demands could be made a bit easier?
Here are 6 useful software tools that can help make the writing process faster or help you better organize your notes and literature:
1. Dragon Naturally Speaking. This speech recognition software (available only in paid versions) allows you to dictate documents, search the web, dictate and send emails and more using only your voice.
2. Docear-The Academic Literature Suite. This free open source tool helps you organize, create and discover academic literature.
3. Evernote. This tool, which comes in a free version as well as an upgraded paid version, allows you to create text, photo and audio notes, clip web pages and synchronize your notes across your devices.
4. Research Writer by ActiveScholar. This research writing software (the company offers a free 30-day trial) is developed specifically for academic writers. It allows you to capture, maintain, and organize research information for journal articles, dissertations, theses, course papers, essays and books.
5. Citavi. This reference management software, available in free and paid versions, allows you to search resources worldwide, analyze and organize content, save quotations and thoughts, and more.
6. Mendeley. This free software tool allows you to search and sort your references, documents and notes in one place.
What software tools do you use? Please share them in the comments section.
Power Thesaurus. An easy-to-follow, crowdsourced online thesaurus. (shared by Nina).
The American journalist Gene Fowler once remarked,
“Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
Make no mistake, though – Fowler was totally lying, and writing is really hard. So let’s enlist the help of our robot overlords in order to make it a little easier.
Today I’ll share 15 apps and websites that might help you become a better writer. Some are huge, multi-faceted programs, while others are more single-purpose and can help with organizing research, planning, gaining motivation, or editing.
If you’d like even more resources to help with other aspects of your education, you’ll find even more websites, apps, and tools over at the Resources page.
If you’re unable to see the video above, you can view it on YouTube.
- Coggle – a free mind-mapping tool that can help you organize ideas.
- Storyline Creator – a mapping tool that’s built around individual characters and the flow of events in a story.
- Evernote – my second brain. Pretty much everything I write starts out as a note here. Here’s another article I wrote with additional Evernote tips.
- Scrivener – a full-fledged application for writing a novel. This is what I finished writing 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Gradeswith.
- Novlr – a new alternative to Scrivener. It seems like it has a nicer design, but fewer features. I found some recommendations for it on the NaNoWriMo forums.
- Byword – a minimalist Markdown editor for OS X. You don’t need to know Markdown to use it… but Markdown is really easy to learn.
- Twinword Writer – a tool with a built-in thesaurus that suggests alternative words when you pause in your writing.
- Write or Die – an app that will punish you if you don’t keep writing. Punishments can range from annoying noises to “Kamikaze Mode”, which starts erasing your writing!
- Written? Kitten! – a more positive take on the Write or Die concept; instead of punishing you, it rewards you with pictures of kittens every 100 words.
- 750words – the name describes it pretty well; this is a site that can help you build a daily writing habit. It’s got pretty cool stat-tracking as well.
- DailyPage – a site that gives you a different writing prompt (e.g. Write about your favorite leader) every day.
- Mendeley – I’m not a grad student, but I’d use this if I was. It’s a free tool that can help you manage research documents and PDFs.
- editMinion – a tool that can analyze your writing and pick out weak and over-used words. It can also tell you if your sentences are too short or long.
- Coffitivity – plays coffee shop noises to give you a nice working atmosphere – a good alternative to white noise generators.
- Brain.fm – a web app that uses AI to generate music that’s supposed to help you increase your focus and attention. The site even has research to back up their claims. I’ve tested it a few times, and while I’m not sure if the music is truly working or just providing a placebo effect yet, I will way that it’s pretty darn good music for working.
By the way, if Brain.fm’s style of music isn’t for you, then you might enjoy my Ultimate Study Music Playlist on YouTube. I add new songs to it often.
Lastly, if you haven’t heard it, you might enjoy the CIG podcast episode where I break down how I wrote my 27,000 word book.
Got other recommendations that I didn’t include here? Share them in the comments!
If you liked this video, subscribe on YouTubeto stay updated and get notified when new ones are out!