The Best Tools for Writers

Written communication drives our society. It is woven into the fabric of our lives. Even as videos grow in popularity, good writing fuels their success. Thus, writing well is a valuable tool.

What does it take to write well? Professional writers have a purpose in mind when they sit down to write an article. They have ideas to express. Writers will hone their craft, learning and employing solid methods to create a piece they are proud to publish.

Clear goals and practice alone won’t elevate your writing. You need practical methods and writing tools to compose quality pieces. This article matches these tools with methods to enhance your writing. They work whether you’re a freelancer starting your career, an editor working from home, a writer in an office, or anything in between.


Why research is important for writers: Readers want to know they can trust the material you’ve published. When you’ve done the work and investigated your topic, your writing becomes trustworthy. Putting in extra effort proves that you’re serious and knowledgeable about your chosen topic. 

Research helps crystalize your topic and narrow down your audience. How should you search for accurate material? What tools can help you investigate topics for your article?

How to research: If you have a general idea for your piece, start by establishing what you already know about it. Ask yourself what assumptions you may have made, and question those assumptions. Begin writing questions. Search for answers to your questions through high-quality sources. Consider your audience and their needs. What questions might your readers have?

Always double-check your sources for accuracy. Don’t use facts and figures without verifiable evidence. Keep records and links to the research you use for later reference.

Research tools for writers

  1. A personal library and records. Don’t discount the value of books you already have at home. They could easily contain experiences, statistics, or quotes that can bolster your writing project. As you write different articles, build your library by keeping notes about your tasks. These will provide reference material for later works.

  2. The right browser. The Opera browser is perfect for your next writing project. It’s fast, offers clean browsing, and is a breeze to set up. It can automatically block distracting ads and includes a VPN in its services. Opera’s best feature for research is its Pinboards. Instead of opening many tabs for each subject, you can create pins and save several webpages, images, or texts all in one place. Grouping your information is far easier than surfing nearly endless tabs. Make sure your browser can do the heavy lifting for your next writing project.

  3. Academic library databases. What if you need to reference academic research for your topic? There are search sites specifically for finding abstracts and other scholarly works. Make use of Wiley Online Library, Semantic Scholar, or Google Scholar to find authoritative academic works.

  4. Keyword research tools. Most current writers are freelancers and are likely writing articles for online publications. If search engines don’t pick these pieces up, they’ll be invisible to the public. Keyword research will help determine for what people are searching. Then, you’ll have terms to guide your writing. Try out, Moz, or AnswerThePublic to find relevant keywords for greater online visibility.


Why you need an outline: An outline organizes your research and establishes the main points you plan to cover. It serves as a prompt throughout the document, making it easier to record your thoughts and research points you don’t want to forget. Your work will progress faster, and you’ll get over mental blocks easier if you have an outline.

How to build your outline: Your outline doesn’t need to be intricate, but it should include your introduction, topics presented in order, and a conclusion. Here is an example of and outline for a fictional article comparing books to e-readers:

A. Introduction
        1. How long the comparison conundrum has been around
            a) When the first e-reader was introduced
        2. Projected changes in purchases of physical books and e-readers
B. Advantages of each format
        1. Pros of physical books
        2. Pros of e-readers
C. Disadvantages of each format
        1. Cons of physical books
        2. Cons of e-readers
D. The science behind the options
        1. Research on the psychological benefits of each format
E. Conclusion - Why the choice matters

Writing tools for building an outline:

    1. Dynalist. This is a straightforward outline builder. The interface is simple. It’s easy to learn and operate. You can put your outline together in no time at all.

    2. Jasper. This AI writing tool has a bit of a learning curve, but once you get a grip on its use, you’ll build out and fill in your outlines in no time. As an added plus, it can provide SEO-friendly content you can use as a foundation for your work.


Why writers need a draft: Resist the urge to write up a perfect piece the first time you sit down. Writing a draft is how raw ideas are developed. It builds on your outline, expands on your thoughts, and clears the direction for your article. 

With your draft, you can write without pressure or judgement. Not expecting perfection, you can get your ideas out of your head and onto the page. Writing everything out can reveal structural or even factual flaws that you would have otherwise missed.

How to write a draft: There are no rules here. Don’t try to make your draft perfect. Write down your ideas however they come to you. They could be questions, bullet points, sentences, or idea fragments. As you write things down, remember you can always change your mind. This is not the final product.

Use these free tools for your draft:

  1. A plain notebook. Some people need to write out their ideas. They may express themselves easily by writing on physical paper. It is inexpensive, has no learning curve, and keeps you from getting distracted in an online environment.

  2. OpenOffice. Of course, you’re expected to do most of your writing electronically. OpenOffice is an open-source alternative to Microsoft Office®.  

  3. Google Docs: Free and easy to use, this tool supports plugins that can enhance your writing. The next section will discuss some of these plugins.


Why you want to polish your article: Diamonds from a mine aren’t ready to fit on a ring right away. They need to be cut and polished. Even the most brilliant first draft needs revisions to make it ready for others. 

How to polish your work: Now is the time to remove errors, clarify ideas, and increase the overall professionalism of your piece. It may be helpful to edit a printed copy of your draft. Double-check any statements of fact. Make sure the tone, audience, and subject are all consistent. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Give your work time to breathe. Take breaks between each rewrite, so you can return to your work with a fresh set of eyes.

Tools to polish your draft:

  1. ProWritingAid is a grammar and style checker that guides you toward better word choices and helps eliminate common writing pitfalls. You can either use their browser extension or write directly on their site.

  2. Power Thesaurus operates as a standalone app, a website, or a browser extension. It provides effective alternative word choices for your article.

  3. Hemingway Editor is an app that evaluates your work for its simplicity and readability. It makes suggestions to improve the overall style and accessibility of your writing project.

Offline tools

Why study writing offline: On-the-job experience isn’t the only way to improve your craft. Read up on best writing practices so they become second nature. Take the time to understand what goes into writing well. It’s helpful to have the following resources nearby for quick questions.

Books to guide your practice:

  1. “The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation” by Jane Straus

  2. “The Elements of Style” by William E. Strunk and E. B. White 

  3. “How to Write a Thesis” by Umberto Eco


Why your environment matters: Without the right environment, writing is difficult. An environment free from distractions is one of the best tools in a writer’s toolbox.

Tools to clean up your writing environment:

  1. Ad blockers prevent advertisements from downloading as you browse a webpage. Blocking intrusive ads keeps your attention on the material you need to view.

  2. Disconnect is an extension that blocks third-party trackers. It protects your privacy and speeds up your browsing.

Some writers may neglect their social circles. They can become habituated to solitary working environments and forget to reach out. Freelance writers and editors benefit from joining a writing group where they can communicate with fellow remote workers and exchange ideas and tips. You can find these groups online or at your local library or college.

Remember, there isn’t one right way to write. Still, if you have the right tools, methods, and environment, you will set yourself up to succeed as a writer.

Written by Shanita Andrews

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