The great marketing and writing expert Ann Handley said in a recent session at the Content Marketing World conference, “Writing makes you vulnerable. There is no magic feather in writing. It’s more ephemeral than words but it seems elusive and difficult. Writing is a muscle that you need to exercise every day.”
Boy, isn’t that the truth. Not only do you have to come up with ideas to write about, there are a thousand things to think about when you write–your punctuation, your grammar, your spelling, staying conversational, writing in your brand voice, and really just trying to make any sense whatsoever. Getting past your nerves and cranking out that ugly first draft can seem like a monumental undertaking. There’s nothing more intimating than a blank screen.
I have something to give to you this week. Here are nine writing tools that you had no idea existed. Don’t worry, I didn’t either! I learned about these from Handley and they’ve really changed the way I write in the past few months. I hope they rock your world too.
Pocket: A place to store ideas.
Google Scholar: A special Google search engine with access to research studies on any subject.
Boardreader: Another search engine designed to comb through bulletin boards, press releases, and other obscure pieces of content to find facts and information.
Buzzsumo: Find out what your competitors are writing about and how it performs or find keywords that are performing high to uncover the topic you should write about next.
Blog About by Impact: Having a hard time coming up with a title for your blog post or article or coming up with an idea in general? This site has thousands of fill-in-the-blank prompts that can help you to brainstorm your next topic. It’s a great place to visit when you’re suffering from writer’s block.
Ilys.com: This tool is weirdly hypnotic. You tell it how many words you want to write and then it forces you to keep writing. It helps you to muzzle your inner critic and crank out that ugly first draft. It’s hard to explain. Just try it.
The Up-Goer Five Text Editor: This is a fascinating tool. You copy and paste a bit of text, or type directly into the tool, and then hit enter. It will point out the words that are not commonly used. For fun, I pasted in the following paragraph from earlier in this post: Writing makes you vulnerable. There is no magic feather in writing. It’s more ephemeral than words but it seems elusive and difficult. Writing is a muscle that you need to exercise every day. Plus there are a thousand things to think about when you write–your punctuation, your grammar, your spelling, staying conversation, writing in your brand voice, and really just trying to make any sense whatsoever. Getting past your nerves and cranking out that ugly first draft can seem like a monumental undertaking. There’s nothing more intimating than a blank screen. And Up-Goer told me the following words were not among the most commonly used: VULNERABLE, MAGIC, FEATHER, EPHEMERAL, ELUSIVE, DIFFICULT, MUSCLE, EXERCISE, PLUS, THOUSAND, PUNCTUATION, GRAMMAR, SPELLING, BRAND, WHATSOEVER, NERVES, CRANKING, UGLY, DRAFT, MONUMENTAL, UNDERTAKING, INTIMATING, BLANK, SCREEN.
Why does this matter? It helps you to write more conversationally. You don’t have to change your text based on every suggestion. But at least it will help you to review the language you are using so you can really make sure your writing is going to make sense to the average reader.
HemingwayApp: A really fascinating text editor that gives you suggestions on words to change or cut to make your writing clearer and bolder. This is great if you don’t have a person serving as your editor. It’s not free but it is worth it.
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