100 Free Web Tools That Will Make You a Better Writer

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Image representing Jott as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Whether you love writing as a hobby or aspire to a career as a professional writer, there is always room for improvement when it comes to practicing your craft. The following online tools offer everything from writing prompts to get you started, mind maps to help plan your writing project, tools to help with creativity and the quality of your work, tools to improve your research skills, and even tools to help you with a career as a writer. Spend some time browsing through the following list to find plenty of ways to help boost your writing skills.

 

Story Builders and Writing Prompts

The first line can be the most challenging one to write. Try these writing prompts to stimulate your thoughts and get you ready for a productive writing session.

  1. Portrait of Words: Writing Challenge Photo Prompts. Check in each month to see a group of photos with directions on how to incorporate them into a story you create.
  2. Creative Writing Prompts. Get over 300 writing prompts with a wide range of topics to help your writing start flowing.
  3. Writing Prompt Generator. Use these writing prompts that are generated at the click of a button.
  4. Big Huge Thesaurus. Find blog post ideas and story plot ideas with this tool that is also a thesaurus.
  5. Imagination Prompt Generator. Spend about 10 minutes writing with each of these prompts before going on to the next one.
  6. McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Thirteen Writing Prompts. Use these thirteen preset writing prompts when you need a little nudge.
  7. WritingFix: The Daily Prompt Generator. With almost 550 questions available, this interactive writing prompt generator will certainly give you great ideas for your writing.
  8. Writer’s Digest – Writing Prompts. You won’t run out of great ways to start writing with the pages of prompts available here.
  9. About.com Creative Writing Prompts. Find many links to writing prompt generators and ideas to help you start writing.
  10. Writing Prompts. Get a random selection of writing prompts with this tool.

Mind Mapping and Brainstorming   

A hand-drawn mind map
Image via Wikipedia
  1. yWriter5. Designed specifically for novel writers, but useful for any writer, easily organize large sections of your writing with this tool unique tool.
  2. Mindomo. This free mind mapping tool will help you organize your thoughts and ideas.
  3. bubble.us. Brainstorming got a lot easier with this simple tool that creates bubbles connecting your ideas.
  4. Mapul. Create mind maps that are easy to use and easy to understand with this tool.
  5. WiseMapping. This tool offers free mind maps that you can also share with others.
  6. Cmap Tools. You can create concept maps with this free mind mapping tool.
  7. Kayuda. Get your thoughts organized if you are working alone or organize the thoughts of a group with Kayuda.
  8. View Your Mind. See your thoughts with this tool that helps illustrate your thoughts through easy-to-use mind maps.
  9. Gliffy. This tool helps you create flowcharts for your writing projects, or you can use it to map out plots and other ideas.
  10. VUE. If you are working on a research-oriented project, this mind mapping tool, created at Tufts University, is especially helpful for such tasks.
  11. FreeMind. Use this tool to help keep track of projects, organize research, brainstorm, and more.
  12. Idea Lottery. Scroll down and plug in type in keywords that pertain to your topic to generate related ideas off of which you can brainstorm.
  13. Jump Start. By the Idea Lottery folks, enter a “How can I?” question to receive a list of related adjectives.
  14. Google Sets. Enter up to five words that relate to your topic and select a short or long list full of related words.

Writing and Note-Taking

These tools all help with taking notes and keeping your writing organized and readily available.

  1. Jott. This tool is great for keeping notes via voice mail. Send yourself a voice message and Jott will record notes, appointments, to-do lists, and more.
  2. Notezz!. This super-simple note-taking tool will keep all your notes in one place without any complicated features.
  3. UberNote. Email or IM your notes with this tool that you can use from your desktop or your mobile phone.
  4. Google Notebook. Use Google’s web-based document tool for a full-featured solution to keeping all your writing in one place and easily accessible.
  5. Zoho Notebook. Another full-featured writing tool, Zoho allows you to integrate audio, video, html, URLs, files, and more and includes tons of tools.
  6. Evernote. This popular note-taking tool is an excellent way to keep track of your ideas. Type in text, take photos, or link from the Internet to save any important notes.
  7. WebAsyst Notes. After you create notes with this tool, then organize them in folders for easy access and share with collaborators or clients.
  8. Wridea. Write down what you need to remember with this tool that allow you to edit, organize, and share your notes.
  9. FruitNotes. This online notebook offers lots of useful features including leaving voice notes from your phone and uploading photos and videos.
  10. Notefish. If you do Internet research for your writing, use Notefish to save information from websites, then organize and share your notes.

Reference Material

Make sure you know the words you are using, find synonyms, learn the history of words, and use the correct style with these helpful online reference tools.

  1. Dictionary.com. Not only can you look up meanings with this tool, but you can also get other tools that help with grammar and style, word FAQs, and other types of dictionaries.
  2. Webster’s Online Dictionary. Look up a word, use the medical dictionary or thesaurus, and get a Quote-of-the-Day.
  3. Bartleby. Find a huge number of reference tools at this site that includes access to thousands of books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, quotes, style and usage, and much more.
  4. Library Spot Grammar/Style. Get links to several sites that provide you with tutorials, how-tos, and style guides so that you are always using proper grammar and style.
  5. Word of the Day. A great way to expand your vocabulary is by learning a new word every day.
  6. Online Etymology Dictionary. Discover the origins and history of many words and phrases with this fun online tool.
  7. Urban Dictionary. Don’t get left behind–stay up on the most recent slang words or phrases with this useful, and sometimes irreverent, dictionary.
  8. Visual Thesaurus. Look up a word and get synonyms mapped out for you with this tool that is great for exploring connotations.

Triggering Creativity

One of the keys to being a great writer is staying creative. If you feel like you could use a boost in the creativity department, then check out these fun tools to start the creative energy flowing again.

  1. Creative Aerobics. Find tons of online activities here that will help you find your creativity through exploration, breaking out of ruts, and using new problem-solving techniques.
  2. Mindstreaming. Learn how a community can work together and share creative ideas on how to bring about world peace.
  3. Creativity Portal. You can find ideas for arts and crafts, creative living, writing, and prompts with this handy tool.
  4. Creativity Pool. See what types of fun inventions others have suggested or add a few of your own ideas.
  5. EyeWire Creativity Cards. Print these inspiring cards and save them to use any time your writing is slowing down. They will spark your creativity.
  6. Favorite Website Awards. A great way to find your creativity is by appreciating that of others. Check out these websites that show some of the best creativity on the Internet.
  7. CREAX. This tool provides links to 841 websites thought to be the best in creativity and innovation.
  8. Good Things Should Never End. Jump on this interactive website to explore the creativity hidden throughout this never-ending website. Careful, it’s addictive.
  9. An Exercise. From The Creative Brain, this exercise will help spark your creativity.
  10. Learn to be MORE Creative NOW!. Find lessons and exercises designed to start your creative process here.
  11. Instructables. This website is full of fun projects that will certainly spark your creativity ranging from manly crafts to eco-friendly projects to offbeat guides.
  12. Sloganizer. If you need help coming up with a slogan, use this tool to create slogans based on keywords you supply.
  13. Web Lab. The project happening here are all working into bring fresh perspectives to important social issues.
  14. Sketchcast. This tool allows you to sketch and publish your work in a blog-type setting, with or without words. If you aren’t feeling inspired yet, check out other’s sketches.

Researching

Whether you are writing a novel or an informative essay, your writing will be stronger if you understand your topic better. Check out these Internet research tools that help you find the best, most reliable information.

  1. Academic Index. This search tool is created by the former chair of Texas Association of School Librarians and only pulls from databases and resources that are approved by librarians and educators.
  2. Clusty. Use this search tool that looks through top search engines, then clusters the results so that information that may have been hidden far down in the search results easily accessible.
  3. Dogpile. Dogpile uses several top search engines then removes duplicates from the results.
  4. Fazzle.com. This meta-search engine accesses a large number of databases and claims to have more access to information than Google.
  5. Multiple Search. This tool searches among major search engines, social networks, Flickr, Wikipedia, and many more sites to find what you need.
  6. Hakia. If you want guaranteed quality on your searches, use this popular semantic search engine that only provides results from websites that are recommended by librarians.
  7. OAIster. When you are searching for digital items, use this tool that draws upon 12 million resources from over 800 repositories.
  8. DeepDyve. Specifically targeted at exploring the deep web, you can find plenty of expert information with this search tool.
  9. Intute. The resources you find with this research tool are all hand-selected and specifically for education and research purposes.
  10. Virtual Learning Resource Center. Get links to thousands of academic research sites to help anyone at any level find the best information for their research projects.
  11. Gateway to 21st Century Skills. This resource is sponsored by the US Department of Education and provides information from a variety of quality places on the Internet.

Finding Writing Jobs

One of the best ways to become a writer is to do plenty of writing. No matter if you have a full-time job or want to support yourself by writing alone, take a look at these tools that will help you find writing jobs.

  1. Mediabistro. Writers looking for media-related jobs should check out this popular site.
  2. Writer Gazette. You can look for freelance jobs here as well as read articles, get tips, and more to help your writing career.
  3. FreelanceWriting. Find jobs, enter writing contests, and learn how to improve your writing skills from other writers at this site.
  4. JournalismJobs. Search for jobs in the field of journalism from categories such as freelance or internships, and even enter writing contests.
  5. NewsJobs.net. Get links to sites where you can search for news jobs or read others’ essays offering advice about how they found their jobs in journalism.
  6. Guru. Freelancers can post their resume and qualifications and employers can search for prospective employees where contract jobs are negotiated by bidding.
  7. Freelance Writing Jobs for Web and Print. Get job-hunting tips, network, and find freelance jobs here.
  8. WritersWeekly. This site posts weekly job opportunities as well as freelance gigs, articles to help writers, and more.
  9. Media Kitty. Search for writing jobs or find story ideas and media requests at this site.
  10. Writerfind. Employers can post information and writers can post profiles on this site that helps make it easy for writers seeking freelance and telecommuting jobs.

Collaborating

While writing is typically a solitary job, sometimes writers must work with others to collaborate on projects or when being hired by a client for freelance work. If you find yourself in need of tools to help make this happen, then see what’s available in this list.

  1. writewith. Great for collaborative writing projects, this tool keeps everyone together with features such as shared documents, shared tasks, and discussions.
  2. Thinkature. With this too, you and your partners can collaborate, organize your research and ideas, and prepare your project together.
  3. Diigo. Use this tool to highlight passages on web pages, add sticky notes, and share with your colleagues or you client.
  4. Backpack. Backpack allows for easy collaboration with both clients and colleagues and includes features such as announcements; shared to-do lists, calendars, files; and centralized discussions.
  5. Writeboard. Create shareable online text documents to keep track of ideas and progress notes for yourself and your collaborators.
  6. Springnote. This collaboration tool allows you to take notes for yourself or work with others to create a group project.
  7. Thinkfree. This tool is loaded with free services, including document creation and sharing, file access and sharing, collaboration, blogging, and iPhone access.
  8. WebNotes. A great way to share notes with those whom you are working, this tool allows you to attach notes to web pages, create notes in folders, and share your notes with others.
  9. 30 Boxes. This online calendar keeps you organized, is easy to use, and its sharing feature is a great way to communicate timelines with clients.
  10. LooseStitch. Create outlines, share with your colleagues and clients, and keep your changes organized and easy to follow with this tool.

Freelancing

If you find yourself freelancing to make your writing career happen, then you will want to take advantage of these free tools that will make your life easier and free up plenty of time to focus on writing.

  1. Emurse. Keep your resume updated and available with this tool that allows you to create, store, share, and print your resume in a variety of formats.
  2. SlimTimer. If you need a tool to help you track hours, give this one a try. It also runs reports and manages tasks.
  3. Toggl. This time management tool tracks your time on projects, creates invoices, offers desktop widgets, an iGoogle gadget, and more.
  4. FreshBooks. FreshBooks offers free, professional invoices online when you are only invoicing a few clients.
  5. Zoho Invoice. If you would rather be in control of your invoices and you don’t want to track how many clients you’ve got, try Zoho Invoice for sending quotes, receiving customer payments online, and managing invoices with ease.
  6. LinkedIn. This popular social site for professionals will help you network, find contacts, and grow your freelancing business.
  7. Plaxo. Stay in touch with your clients and contacts with this tool that also helps you keep them all organized.
  8. Tabber. If you have several online accounts, manage your contacts with Tabber, which combines them all for you.
  9. Tasks Jr.. This task manager allows you to organize and prioritize your professional projects as well as your personal ones.
  10. Agrata. Manage your passwords with this encrypted tool that securely stores all your passwords so that you don’t have to remember them.
  11. mint. Freelancers must be especially careful when managing money, so use this free tool that connects your bank, credit cards, and mutual funds so you can stay in control of your finances.
  12. BillMonk. Keep track of your money as well as other items you have loaned or borrowed with this tool.
  13. wesabe. This free tool is great for freelancers and helps you track spending as well as create goals towards saving money.

 

 

 

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About Renee Prejean-Motanky

RPM Marketing views the flip side of today's market challenges and sees an opportunity for businesses to realize a return on communications... an opportunity to articulate a brand position... an opportunity to increase sales and/or readership... Or an opportunity to build awareness and capture market share. We help businesses captialize on these opportunities by developing and delivering exceptional communications initiatives.

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