When you write that much, you learn a few tricks to get it done faster—and better.
One strategy is to use templates, structures, and formulas. Beyond that—however—I’ve come to rely on four pieces of software to help me write.
If you’re a professional writer—or you aspire to be one—these are tools you should consider using:
Tool #1: Google Docs
I used to be a Microsoft Word power user.
Then I tried Google Docs.
It does everything I need as a writer. It’s free. And there are two features that set it apart from Word and have become essential to my workflow:
1. Revision History
I write multiple drafts of everything. When I wrote in Word, each draft meant a new document. It left me with multiple documents and a complicated file naming system:
In Docs I create one document—and that’s it.
Docs keeps track of all my changes automatically. And it’s easy to “roll back” the version history if needed.
Yes, I’ve used Word’s “track changes” feature. Using Google Docs is kind of like that—except a million times easier.
Plus since it’s web-based, I can make changes from my computer, my phone, my iPad, my wife’s computer, etc.
Sending Word document drafts back and forth gets confusing.
Which document had the edits? What happened to the draft I sent yesterday? Is this really the latest version?
With Docs, I just send a link. The person on the other end opens the document and makes comments or changes.
Because of revision history, those changes are super-easy to see and track.
Again, this is SO much easier than messing with Word’s track changes tool.
Tool #2: Hemingway Editor
I write all my first drafts in Hemingway Editor:
As I write, it shows me where I’m writing well.
When I start writing incomprehensible babble, it yells at me by marking it in yellow, then red.
It also tells me my Readability score, which I try to keep below 6, or as low as possible.
(If you don’t know why lower readability scores matter to marketing writing, I HIGHLY recommend you read this post by Pete OC over at my friend Danavir’s CopyMonk blog.)
Hemingway is free to use on the web. I splurged for the $10 desktop version so I could use it offline.
One note: The desktop version is a little buggy on my MacBook Air. But not so much it keeps me from using it. The web version doesn’t seem to have the same issues.
I’m hoping they come out with an updated version soon.
Tool #3: Grammarly Premium
Mistake-free writing is not optional—not for the kind of writing I do.
Clients want clean copy, and I give it to them—with the help of Grammarly:
My most common writing mistake is dropping words in the middle of sentences.
If I try to proofread my work (without Grammarly), it’s usually impossible to catch these dropped words. If you’re a writer, you know this effect. You’re just too close to see it.
I also really have a habit of using the word “really”—a word that should be deleted—most of the time.
And for you English teachers in the crowd: Grammarly often yells at me for “squinting modifiers.” Super double bonus points if you know what those are.
Grammarly finds 90% of my mistakes for me, allowing me to deliver a much higher quality product to my clients—without much extra work at all.
Yes, you need the premium plan. It costs $29/month. It’s worth every penny.
Tool #4: Apple Notes “Speech” Feature
Grammarly catches 90% of my errors.
Apple Notes “Speech” helps me catch the remaining 10%.
When I’m done running my work through Grammarly, I copy and paste my work into a new note in Apple Notes.
From there, my MacBook Air will read the article back to me in my headphones using the built-in speech tool (It’s under Edit -> Speech -> Start Speaking).
If there are any remaining problems—dropped words, awkward sentences, etc.—I hear them. And I can fix them.
Many writing teachers will tell you to read your writing out loud to catch any mistakes.
But I find that having it read back to me by someone else—even by my computer—is far more effective.
If you’re not on a Mac, you can accomplish the same thing using Google Translate on the web.
Just copy your text into the “translate” box on the left, ignore the translation function, and click the little speaker button in the bottom corner.
This can be done from any web browser, no matter what computer you’re using.
Bonus Tool: Scrivener
Here’s one more tool worth checking out.
I don’t personally use Scrivener, but many writers swear by it.
I gave Scrivener a trial run a month ago—and it just didn’t do it for me.
It’s a great tool—with more features than any of the tools I listed above.
It makes it super-easy to organize your work for different projects, including research and any notes you have.
It’s primarily a desktop tool. As far as I can tell, it’s designed for people who are creating writing for themselves—not for clients. Many novelists—for example—do all their work in Scrivener.
If you work mostly on one machine, or you’re writing a book or content for your projects, I can see how Scrivener would be a powerful tool for you.
For me, Google Docs works better as a hub for my content—mostly because I rely heavily on Google’s collaboration tools: revision history, sharing, commenting, etc.
Yes, there are ways to share and collaborate in Scrivener. But I just find it easier to do in Google Docs.
If you’re still using Microsoft Word to write your content, it’s time to test drive some new equipment.
Try a few of these tools and see what works for you.
And if I missed any you think I should try, let me know!
P.S. If you’re not a member of the Content Marketing Lounge on Facebook, you can join here. It’s free and I keep it spam-free zone. There are 700 or so smart people there as of this writing. Plus I share a lot more of this kind of stuff in there.
P.P.S. Need a good writer, editor, or ghostwriter for your latest project (Especially if you’re working in B2B)?
Get in touch. It’s what I do.