The Study: Issue #26 - 5 Free Apps to Keep Your Writing On Track

The Study is changing...for the better.

This newsletter is going to change a bit going forward. When necessary, you’ll see commentary on recent news if it’s warranted. However, I wanted to shift this publication into something more beneficial to you, my brilliant readers.

There will be a post at the top with information on anything from useful apps, to tips and tricks, to honing your craft, while interesting news links will be organized at the bottom under a new “Headlines” section. If you have any questions on writing-related topics, or you have an idea for a new section, let me know!

As always, if you value the content of this newsletter, please let others know by clicking the ❤️ at the bottom and share on social media!

- Harry

5 Free Apps to Keep Your Writing On Track

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

The quarantine has made all of our lives harder. Maybe you’re juggling your kids’ home learning with your nine-to-five, all while trying to squeeze your own writing projects in wherever you can.

The following five apps can all be used for free to help you make the most of what little time (or energy) you have to write your book/blog/essay/what have you. If you desire more functionality, you can pay for a higher level tier that offers additional features.

Best of all, these apps all have a web-based component, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Mac or a Windows person, iOS or Android. As long as you can get on the Internet, you’re golden.

  1. Notion: I’ve been waxing poetic about Notion on both the Home Work podcast and on Twitter and for good reason: it’s incredible. Notion isn’t just a project management tool. It’s an organizational ecosystem. With Notion, you can create:

    • Spreadsheets

    • Relational databases

    • Task lists

    • Goal lists

    • And a TON more

If you wanted to, you could create a database of all your characters and what chapters they appear in, then build a timeline for your book, all while drafting the manuscript in Notion itself. When it comes time to query, keep track of your agents in a Notion spreadsheet. The program also offers the ability to invite others to collaborate with you simultaneously—perfect for working with co-authors.

I’ve been using Notion for several weeks now to manage some of my projects and I can’t recommend it enough.

Here are some YouTube video tutorials to help you get started:

Your First Day with Notion | A Beginner’s Guide

Top 15 Notion Tips for Beginners

The Most Powerful Productivity App I Use - Notion

Notion Tour - How we use Notion at Oki Doki

  1. WorkFlowy: WorkFlowy is like one, giant piece of paper. Jot notes, keep to-do lists, or outline your novel all in WorkFlowy. What sets this service apart from other text editors is how its bullet system works. Each bullet in a list acts as its own document. Click on a bullet and you’re taken to a new page where you can elaborate on it further. It’s a unique approach to a common problem: how do I write a long, detailed list of items and sub-items without cluttering up my document? WorkFlowy is the answer.

  2. TomatoTimer: TomatoTimer is a simple Pomodoro timer that allows you to work for periods of 25 minutes, followed by a break of five or 10 minutes. Close Twitter, flip off Facebook, and focus on just one task for the whole 25 minutes. When the alarm goes off, take a few to check in on your social media before diving back in. Ideal for word sprints.

  3. Draft: Draft is a no-nonsense web-based text editor and a great alternative to Google Docs (pencil and paper are also a better alternative to Google Docs). It has almost all the features you’ll need to finish your first…ahem, draft, including:

    • Team collaboration

    • Comments

    • Analytics, like total word counts and times of day when you’re most productive

Draft can also publish to popular sites like Wordpress, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, and LinkedIn. And you can’t beat Hemingway Mode, which eliminates your ability to delete your previous writing, forcing you to keep moving forward. Combined with TomatoTimer and Coffitivity (below), you’ll be able to hunker down and tackle even the most daunting writing project.

  1. Coffitivity: Coffitivity is always on in my AirPods. It pumps out generic white noise reminiscent of a coffee shop during the morning hours. You know…back when we could still go to coffee shops. If you’ve been missing your daily trips to Starbucks to Get work done, let Coffitivity take you back to a simpler time…when you didn’t have to brew your own water and grind your own beans.

I hope these tools help you in your writing journey, especially as all of our daily routines have been upended by recent events. Of course, nothing beats the good old fashioned “butt in chair” method of getting things done, so get to it!


A list of writing and publishing links from around the web to keep you in the know:

Letter to the Editor: Why These Agents Argue Books Aren't Essential” by Erik Hane and Laura Zats | Publishers Weekly

The @PublishrsWeakly Twitter Account Is Calling Publishing to Task” | Electric Literature

Amazon Workers Say Warehouse Health Precautions Are Insufficient” by Alex Press | Jewish Currents

Penguin Classics Crash Course: Sense and Sensibility with Devoney Looser” | Instagram

5 Handwriting Resources” | Goulet Pens

Tom Hanks Gifts Corona Brand Typewriter to Bullied Boy Named Corona: 'You Got a Friend in Me'” by Ale Russian |


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