Just over 100 years ago, reading and writing weren’t common activities. Today, developed nations have literacy rates in the 90s and thousands of people have built careers off of the written word. It’s no wonder writing apps are popular.
There are many things to consider when choosing the best writing app for your situation. Of course, you want a nice word processor but it should go beyond that and include things like tightening your writing flow, grammar, and collaboration.
Here are the best writing tools for 2021 that’ll make writing enjoyable again.
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The best writing apps for 2021
If you’ve looked at any list of the best writing apps, Scrivener was probably there. Founded in 2007, it has grown to be loved by long-form writers who need more than a canvas to type on.
It comes with a ton of features for editing, organizing, taking notes, researching, etc. If you’re pressed, it can even be used as a task management application. Some people say it has too many features and takes away from the actual writing. You can decide for yourself.
- Comes with standard text editing similar to popular word processors
- Preset formatting
- Document import
- Virtual corkboard (basically a place to put your thoughts down and tie them to specific sections of your manuscript)
- Outline tools with multiple views, folders, and subfolders
- It supports footnotes
- Prebuilt templates
- Full screen writing (distraction-free mode)
- Writing targets (such as word count)
- Document collections
- Export in multiple formats
- So many features that it can be difficult to learn
- The PC version lags behind the Mac version
Scrivener cost $49 for Windows and Mac versions and $19.99 for iOS.
Grammarly is a word processor but that’s the least of its features. The main focus is on helping you enhance your writing through proper spelling, word usage, and tone of voice. It takes advantage of AI and constant feedback to make this possible.
It’s free to get started but things get interesting when you take advantage of the pro version. We use it for all articles on GrowthBoost before doing a deeper editing dive and it saves us countless hours.
- Chrome extension
- Microsoft word extension
- Plagiarism checker
- Grammar checker
- Tone detection
- Sentiment analysis
- Doesn’t integrate with many other writing tools
- Only a basic word processor
- It’s expensive if you don’t choose annual billing
Grammarly has multiple pricing plans which start with a free version then moves to premium which is $29.95/m. It also has a business plan which charges $25/m/user with a three user minimum.
ProWritingAid is more of a writing software enhancer as opposed to a standalone word processor like Scrivener. With that being said, it brings a lot to the table. It integrates with many word processors like Microsoft Word, Scrivener, Chrome, Google Docs, etc.
The end result of using ProWritingAid is that you’re able to put your best foot forward no matter where you’re writing.
- Grammar checker
- Multiple integrations with popular writing tools
- Detailed writing reports (quite useful)
- Writing style
- Grammar report
- Overused words
- Multiple writing style suggestions
- Tone checker
- Synonym suggestions for common words
- It can be difficult to learn because of the many features
- Not compatible with every website through the Chrome extension
It costs $20/m or $399 for a lifetime account (if you can land a guest post on the ProWritingAid website then you get a free year).
AutoCrit is focused on providing tools for book writers – both fiction and nonfiction. If you’ve ever written a book, you know it can be a pain to edit it. It’s easy to miss things and come off as an amateur. AutoCrit gives you multiple suggestions based on what it knows readers want to see in books.
The outcome is a book with better writing, a tighter story, and more sales. Though it’s made for books, it can be applied to any type of long form writing.
- Multiple editing recommendations
- Tone enhancement
- Pacing help
- Genre specific tips/insights
- Dialogue enhancement
- Repeated word filter
- Progress tracking
- Comparison to other works
- Doesn’t integrate with other software programs
- Grammar checker is basic
It has a limited free plan then it costs $30/m or $297/year.
iA Writer is a tool with an interesting history. It started as an iOS app, moved to Android, and made its debut on Windows through a Kickstarter campaign. It’s used by more than half a million people because of its emphasis on simplicity.
Don’t let the simple interface fool you though. It has multiple features that make writing enjoyable.
- Syntax highlighting
- Focus mode (to concentrate only on the sentence or paragraph you’re writing)
- Content blocks
- Custom typefaces designed to enhance your workflow
- Preview as PDF while editing
- Night mode (because why not)
- Header outline in the sidebar
- Markdown by default
- Since it’s based on markdown, many users may need to learn how to use it
- It doesn’t have built-in templates
It costs $29.99 no matter which OS you’re using and has a 14-day free trial.
Similar to iA Writer, Write! App is a writing tool that gets out of your way and lets you focus on the creative side of writing. If that’s what you’re after then this may be the perfect tool for you but if you need more features to help you organize your writing, other tools on the list may be more effective.
That doesn’t mean it’s feature-poor. It’s just not built to be a heavy application. The target market it’s going after appreciates what it offers.
- Dark mode
- Right to left writing (Arabic, Hebrew, etc.)
- Undo changes even after closing a document
- Autosave to the cloud so you can access it on all connected devices
- Use on multiple devices and access all files
- Open multiple docs with a tabbed interface
- Document sharing
- Limited export options
- Surprisingly, it has no revision history (though you can undo)
It costs $24.95 one off.
yWriter is the last tool on our list and it’s geared towards people who want to write entire novels. It’s clearly stated that the software was developed by authors, not a faceless corporation. While that may be the case, the author didn’t spend much time focused on the design of his website.
It’s not pretty, to put it lightly and that may make many people bounce but go against your gut instinct and give it a try. It allows you to focus on the novel in chapters or scenes and drag those around as you see fit.
It’s a useful writing app for people who need more power. Did I mention that it was free?
There’s a lot of writing software in the world. Some of them live in the cloud, some are free, and some are desktop-only applications. This guide has shown you seven of the best. I’d recommend going with either Scrivener or Grammarly (or a combination of both) depending on your needs.
If you’re a web content writer then Grammarly is a great choice. If you’re a book writer then Scrivener will soon become your best friend.
In the end, it’s your choice so select the writing app you spend your time with wisely J.