15 Apps For Writers That Every Aspiring Author Needs On Her Phone

I don't consider myself a techie by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have a smartphone, and, to my surprise, I've found that it's a pretty useful little tool for the aspiring author. You know that annoying catchphrase, "There's an app for that?" Well, it applies to the writing process, too. There are several writing apps that are not only helpful, but downright indispensable. Good news if you're a perpetually procrastinating, chronically disorganized creative type. (Hey, when you've got your sights set on writing the next great American novel, sometimes organization seems overrated.)

That's why I've compiled this list of apps for writers that are actually useful. The last thing you need is one more app that you never use clogging up your home screen. (I'm looking at you, Game Center.) It may seem counterintuitive to put your writing aids on your phone when chances are it's your biggest distraction, but actually, the writing apps will act as social media deterrents. You're going to feel pretty guilty tapping on that Facebook app when Pomodoro is right next to it. 

Read on for a list of writing apps that will help with everything from the dreaded writer's block to synonym searches. 

MindNode

Available for: iOS 

What it'll cost you: $9.99

What it does: This brilliant little app literally lets you map out your thoughts. Obviously this isn't just limited to the thoughts you have about your novel, but it is uniquely suited for those. The map starts out with your central thought (or plot premise) and then branches out from there, with different characters, plot points, or settings having different branches. You can also color code, highlight, and customize the branches.

Why writers need it: It's amazing how much more sense your ideas make when you can actually see them in front of you. I can't tell you how many times I've lost the perfect phrase in the jumble of other thoughts careening around in my head. This app will let you organize all those brilliant ideas in an easy-to-follow, intuitively laid out format. This is a must-have app for the visual thinker.

Story Tracker

Available for: iOS

What it'll cost you: $8.99

What it does: Keeps track of your submitted stories, novels, poems, scripts, articles, blog posts... you get the idea. Not only does the app record when you submitted a piece, it can also be tagged with sent/response due/response dates, income earned, and other important details.

Why writers need it: Especially if you're a freelancer, keeping track of what pieces you submitted when, to whom, and for how much, can get overwhelming fast. And if you're submitting a manuscript to several different agents or publishers, it's pretty embarrassing to query the same person twice. 

The Brainstormer

Available for: iOS

What it'll cost you: $1.99

What it does: Cures writers block. OK, maybe it won't cure it, but these exercises will definitely help get your creative juices flowing again. Plus it's fun to use, you just spin the wheel to randomly combine a plot, a subject, and a setting or style. Either use the included wheels, or edit the wheels to build entirely new scenarios (like with your own characters and settings). 

Why writers need it: Writer's block can be crippling. A really bad case can throw you off your game for weeks, and this app can help. Even if you don't use the exact scenario the wheel chooses, it may get your brain going on a whole new brilliant story line. The mind is a mysterious thing, and sometimes we need all the help we can get because...

Pomodoro Timer

Available for: iOS and Android

What it'll cost you: $1.99

What it does: I don't know about you, but I am seriously lacking in time management skills, so whatever might help me with that, I try. Pomodoro is the most effective "focus-booster" I've found. Basically, you allot 25 minutes for a certain task — let's use writing as an example. You set the Pomodoro timer to 25 minutes, write 'til the timer goes off, take a short 3-5 minute break, and then get back to work. Every four "Pomodori" you get a longer, 15-30 minute breather.

Why writers need it: I'm not sure if there's something scientific behind it, maybe it all goes back to Pavlov, but for some reason this works. If you use it correctly and faithfully, it will boost your writing productivity.

Agent Obvious

Available for: iOS

What it'll cost you: Nothing!

What it does: Gives you a little tough love and insight into the publishing world via literary agent Laurie Abkemeier, who spent six years as an editor at a major publishing house before turning agent. She dishes on everything from contract negotiations to crafting an effective query. And she's funny. For example: "Editors and agents check email after hours and on weekends, but we don’t want to find anything there."

Why writers need it: The publishing industry is a complicated, competitive beast, and any insight is helpful. The app is based off of Abkemeier's popular Twitter feed. She gives good advice on a wide variety of topics, and if the end goal here is to get published, any and all inside scoops are welcome.

WordBook

Available for: iOS and Android

What it'll cost you: $2.99

What it does: This may seem obvious, but a really excellent dictionary and thesaurus is a must-have app for every aspiring writer. Word book has etymological information, a built-in spell checker with pop-up suggestions, a thesaurus and word links connecting words semantically, bookmark and history management, and — get this — a professionally recorded pronunciation for every single entry.

Why writers need it: Misspelled words are the mark of the lazy. If you have any doubt, go to the authority. Plus, the thesaurus is nothing short of magical.

Goodreader

Available for: iOS

What it'll cost you: $4.99

What it does: This is the best app I've tried for on-the-go editing. All you have to do is save your manuscript as a PDF. Then you can go nuts marking up your draft using sticky notes, highlighting text, inserting edits, or all of the above. It's also super easy to import, sync, and manage your files.

Why writers need it: You can edit anytime and anywhere, on any iOS device. Now rather than sitting on your train, or subway, or bus agonizing about all the editing you need to do, you can get down to business wherever you are.

Index Card

Available for: iOS

What it'll cost you: $2.99

What it does: Well, the name kind of says it all, but the best part of this nifty app is the user interface. It's literally a little corkboard, specifically designed for touch screens so that you can touch and drag each one of your color-coordinated note cards. You simply tap on a card to write or edit.

Why writers need it: This app is perfect for recording you ideas on-the-go. When inspiration hits while you're jogging or standing in line at the grocery store, all you have to do is pull up a notecard. Whether you're tweaking a plot point or adding a completely new one, this app makes it easy and keeps everything organized.

Spotify

Available for: iOS and Android

What it'll cost you: Free with ads. Subscription is $9.99/month with no ads, music available on any device at anytime, and no Internet connection needed.

What it does: Gives you access to millions of songs. You can make your own playlists, or browse ready-made playlists by mood, genre, artist, you name it. Plus, you get introduced to all kinds of great new artists and music based on the stuff you already love.

Why writers need it: Duh, music is our muse. I've created playlists by character, scene, setting, genre, and the list goes on. I find that it gets me in the mind of a particular character and helps me get to know them better. Plus, you can use your playlists for other things as well, like rocking out on the treadmill per your New Year's resolution.

Coffitivity

Available for: iOS and Android

What it'll cost you: Nothing!

What it does: Research suggests that it may be more difficult to be productive in a totally noise-free space. This is why some people are in their creative element in the middle of a bustling, chatter-filled Starbucks. Coffitivity offers the soothing background noise of a coffee shop in the comfort of your own home. Plus, the coffee is free at your place. 

Why writers need it: Maybe music's not your thing, or maybe you just need to switch it up. Hey, if you're staring hypnotized at your blank computer screen, you're probably willing to give just about anything a try. Who knows, maybe all you needed was the familiar hustle and bustle-sounds of your neighborhood coffee shop to get you in the zone.

Writers App

Available for: iOS 

What it'll cost you: $.99

What it does: Writers App is great for getting started on a story. Basically it helps you build a blueprint, from establishing a premise to organizing all the major plot points, while also aiding in developing setting and performing in-depth character analyses.

Why writers need it: Sometimes it's hard to get the ball rolling. Having a great idea is one thing, but actually building an entire story around it is another. This will help you get the basics down and keep them organized. Plus you can export the contents as a .txt file. Did I mention that it's pretty cheap?

Lists for Writers

Available for: iOS and Android

What it'll cost you:  $2.99

What it does: Provides inspiration in a quick, user-friendly format. Can't think of the perfect name for you protagonist? Don't know what kind of occupation your knight in shining armor should have? Stuck on the spelling of some obscure South American city? Lists for Writers can help.

Why writers need it: Mainly because it will allow you to research without opening Google. Otherwise known as the world's No. 1 time-suck.

Beautiful Tarot

Available for: iOS

What it'll cost you: $1.99

What it does: Gives you an alternative inspiration source for character development and plot scenarios. Basically, you give your characters a tarot reading. There are nine spreads available to discover your MC's "path to understanding." You simply touch the cards to slide, flip, and arrange them as you wish, and you can also customize the card interpretations by replacing the text with your own. Added bonus: You can email the reading to yourself when you're done.

Why writers need it: Because it's fun — it's a different and unexpected way to get a little deeper into your character and discover her path to enlightenment.

Dragon Dictation/Dragon Remote Microphone

Available for: iOS and Android

What it'll cost you: Nothing!

What it does: Essentially, let's you take hands-free notes. Use Dragon Dictation when inspiration hits while driving, walking down the street, or any other activity where you should have your hands free and your eyes off the screen. This handy little app lets you dictate everything from character development to emails. And, yes, you can update your Twitter Feed, you procrastinator.

Why writers need it: If you have to choose between getting down the idea for the above mentioned great American novel, or keeping your eyes on the road, odds are you're going to sacrifice your driving record before you give up your shot at literary fame. This app eliminates that scenario, and it's free.

iA Writer Pro

Available for: iOS

What it'll cost you: $9.99

What it does: The "sentence syntax control" feature sets Writer Pro apart from the rest of the content creation and organization apps. This amazing little miracle-worker highlights your adjectives, nouns, adverbs, verbs, prepositions, or conjunctions, allowing you to control and streamline your writing style. Different views (and colors) for the Write, Edit, and Read functions also help you focus on different aspects of your work during different phases of the writing process.

Why writers need it: Self-editing is a difficult, arduous process, but this app promises to make it easier. Being able to clearly identify and simplify your writing style is a crucial part of being a successful editor.

Images: Fotolia; Erin Enders; Giphy(7)

Must Reads