Become a Better Writer: 11 Tools for Improving Your Skills
We’ve all had this thought: “School would be so much easier if only I were a better writer.” Well, you can become a better writer. There are more tools than ever—right at your fingertips—that can help you improve. Here are 11 tools designed to help you become the best writer you can be.
Grammarly works wherever you write online, and will instantly fix over 250 types of errors that are often missed by spelling and grammar checkers in popular word-processing programs.
Pros: Grammarly is a free extension to your browser. It also offers quick explanations of your errors so you can learn from your mistakes and improve as you go.
Cons: This is not a tool for brainstorming or exercising writing skills, but more of an editorial tool.
Build Your Own Blog provides great advice and tools for starting your own blog. If you’re not really wanting to start an entire blog, however, the Blog Post Ideas Generator creates a randomized list of writing prompts. Choose one, and write about it for five minutes.
Pros: You can exercise your writing muscle daily with the Blog Post Ideas Generator’s thousands of writing prompts.
Cons: The site focuses on blog creation, so it’s not a top-to-bottom writing tool with lots of app-like features.
The Hemingway App is a fantastic tool that provides a wealth of information in a clean format. Different colors of highlights appear to alert you to issues with your prose. The color key lets you know what the specific issue is.
Pros: The Hemingway App offers a free, web-based version. You can pay for a more advanced desktop app that has expanded features.
Cons: While it points out things that aren’t working in your writing, it doesn’t offer suggestions or explanations.
This tool is based on the concept of writing first thing in the morning to exercise your writing muscles and stimulate your free-flow of thought.
Pros: It is completely online and private. It tracks your word count, rewards points, and shows statistics about your writing habits.
Cons: Requires a $5 monthly subscription.
Co: Writer Universal does an elegant job of deciphering spelling that you may have mangled. It also allows you to compose via speech-to-text—you talk, it types. If you’re writing on a particular subject, topic dictionaries offer specialized vocabulary.
Pros: It’s built into your Chrome browser and has lots of features.
Cons: Requires a $4.99 monthly subscription.
Can’t quite think of the right word or phrase? This versatile, easy-to-use tool will help you describe a concept by generating a list of words related to the concept. You can type in a single word, a few words, or an entire sentence.
Pros: It’s free, easy to use and powerful.
Cons: Probably too specific to help your overall writing skills improve.
Practicing your writing skill is key. This site motivates you to write every day by emailing you daily prompts. It also provides access to structured writing courses and stats and gives you a personal writing score.
Pros: It’s like having a personal trainer for writing exercises.
Cons: It is not a free tool (various pricing plans).
A word count tracker, Twords tracks your writing and notifies you when you haven’t written in awhile. While this is marketed as a tool to aid those who blog, it’s also a great way to set and keep goals for the writing you do for classes. Writing a research paper in small chunks every day is much better than writing it all on the night before it’s due.
Pros: It can help keep you accountable for writing goals.
Cons: Although it has a free trial, it does require a monthly subscription.
Some courses may require you to base your writing on interviews of people. If you record interviews on your smartphone, this tool helps you efficiently transcribe the interviews. You can pause, rewind, and fast-forward without having to take your hands off the keyboard.
Pros: The tool is free and the files are exportable.
Cons: Not as fast as voice-to-text.
Many of these sites focus on the mechanics or theories of writing. Is there something out there that can boost your creativity? Studies have shown that a moderate amount of ambient noise actually helps people be more creative. This website specializes in a café background at various levels.
Pros: There is a free version. It’s easy to put on while you’re typing.
Cons: Since it’s not an actual café, you’ll have to BYOC (bring your own coffee).
Many college papers require a thesis statement. This tool will help you create thesis statements based on your topic so you can use them as model examples in drafting your own.
Pros: It’s free, easy to use and instructive on the basics of forming a thesis statement.
Cons: Doesn’t focus on other essay elements that come after the thesis.
As your writing improves, not only will it enhance how well you do in college, but it will also play a positive role in your career. Ask any professional from any field if writing is part of their professional lives—most, if not all, will say yes. The more polished, clear, and articulate your words are, the greater boost your writing can give you as you climb the ladder of success.