There are apps for just about everything now, and writing is no exception. I’ve started looking into the writing apps available to see if any of them are worth the memory and icon space on my phone. Below are my first three writing app reviews. The apps in this first set of reviews are all useful for the writer who’s serious about meeting their goals.
What it is: A rather elegant word processing tool for mobile. According to the makers, Writer Plus “is a handy writer app allowing creative writers to jot down quick points.” I typically use the generic “memo” app that came with my phone when I need to write on the go, which is extremely limited in both formatting and organization, and is overall just unpleasant to use. My hope was that WriterP would be an improvement.
Pros: The app actually has some Microsoft Word capabilities, such as undo/redo, italics and bold, and word count. It also has the ability to organize your files into folders; I really appreciate this feature, as I always have more than one file going and need to stay organized. Finally, it’s easy to save your work as a simple text file and then share it however you want. For example, you can save your work, email it to yourself, and then paste it into a Word file on your desktop later.
Cons: The italic/bold formatting capability is done through the use of the star icon—one star on either side of the word for italics, two stars for bold. If you email yourself the file, you lose the italic and bold formatting and are stuck with the stars, leaving you to delete the stars and reformat your text. While a step above the generic memo app I usually use, this one is still (unsurprisingly) limited as far as word processors go. Perhaps I ask too much, but it would be nice to have a writing app that makes me forget I’m writing on my phone.
What it is: At its most basic, this is a tool to encourage writing productivity and to help you meet whatever goals you set. The makers describe this app as “the perfect pocket companion to help you stay on track to finishing and maintain a daily writing habit.”
Pros: This app has a bunch of features, so I’ve broken them out a bit more than the other apps below:
-Offers alerts that you can set to remind you to write once per day on the days and time of your choosing.
-Gives you incentives to write. You earn “guavas” for time you spend writing or the total words you write during a session, which you can then spend on a reward. You can also customize these rewards. For example, one guava could get you a fifteen minute coffee break, where three guavas could get you coffee out with friends.
-Allows you to have multiple projects going with separate goals for each. For example, you can set a word goal and a date you want to complete your project, and the app will tell you how many words you need to write each day to meet your goals.
-Has a twenty-five minute timer you can activate during which you’re supposed to only write. You can get out of the timer on your phone, but it will first encourage you to continue and offer an inspirational quote in the hopes of motivating you to continue.
-Finally, it has a toolbox with a dictionary, thesaurus, and “word salad” function (a collage of unique words meant to inspire you).
Cons: The incentives function, while a cool idea, isn’t super useful for me. Part of why is because I don’t consider minutes of time writing/word count as the best currency for rewarding myself. I sometimes write for only half an hour and end up with solid work, while at other times I write for three hours and do little more than stare at my screen, occasionally tapping a key or two. However, this feature may work great for some people. Additionally, you can’t customize the length of time of your writing sessions—you’re stuck with the twenty-five minutes. I’d like the freedom to set it for ten minutes or an hour, depending on my schedule on a given day.
What it is: An app aimed at getting you unstuck when writing. The makers say “Stumped by writer’s block? Writer Unblocked can help! Ranging from serious to hilarious, these randomly generated exercises will get your creative juices flowing!”
Pros: Its design is extremely simple and user-friendly. All you have to do is tap an inkwell and a random writing prompt pops up. For the writer that wants their mind to be tugged out of a rut and can use any means to accomplish that, it’s a great tool.
Cons: Some of the prompts are reminiscent of the obnoxious prompts professors give you in writing classes in college. For example: “In 100 words or less, write a story that includes the following: a stand-up comedian, a clown car, a cuckoo clock.” Or even worse: “In 1000-2500 words, write a story about the following scenario: an Egyptian mummy goes into business with a suited up astronaut.” Shoot me. But again, the non-picky writer may not mind the silliness of these prompts.
I’ll be reviewing more writing-related apps in the future. Are there any that you use? Let me know—I’d love to take a look at them.
By Madeleine Mozley