Columns > Published on January 9th, 2017

7 Tools for Keeping Your Writing Resolutions

The new year is off to a rocking start, and you’ve no doubt had a chance to sit down and hammer out some writing resolutions that are sure to make 2017 your most prolific writing year yet. You’ve got the drive and the lofty goals, and we’ve got some tools to help you reach them. If you’re looking to make the most of your writing time, try a tool or two listed below to amp up the momentum and guarantee that you keep every resolution you make.

1. Ulysses 

If your New Year’s resolution centers on getting your writing life in better order and making the most out of your writing time, you’ll be interested in trying out the new writing app Ulysses. Early adopters are touting the pleasant and focused writing experience it offers, and unlike its more unwieldy counterpart in Scrivener, exporting finished products is not an exercise in frustration. In the clean interface of Ulysses, there is a single library for everything you ever write or save, with the option to add images, notes, and keywords to your projects. In addition to an awesome auto-save and automatic backup feature, Ulysses also allows you to set word or character goals where you can track your progress and brag about your most prolific days on social media.

Ulysses is an amazing new option for writers with larger projects like novels, where you have all of your content online in one easy to navigate place. It’s worth a look for getting your next book organized.

Visit Ulysses here.

2. Pacemaker

If amping up your daily word count is a goal, Pacemaker is your new best friend. This valuable program allows you to set up writing projects with clearly defined goals, and work out a strategy and plan of action for achieving them. You simply input your project goals and Pacemaker calculates a schedule that will help you to finish on time. It takes away all the pain of maintaining a spreadsheet and doing those manual calculations as it adjusts to your progress as you go. It’s really quite simple to set up, and the program does offer advanced features for multiple projects and the ability to run challenges. Set up your first project and get moving towards greater accountability!

Visit Pacemaker here.

3. FocusWriter

As much as we all love to write, sometimes the siren song of Twitter is just too tempting to ignore, and for every writer that has ever been distracted and pulled away from the job at hand, there is FocusWriter. FocusWriter offers a very simple, distraction-free writing environment with a hide-away interface that allows you to immerse yourself in the work and eliminates a messy screen. Some features include timers and alarms, the ability to set daily goals, fully customizable screens, and some cool sound effects if you like the classic click-clack of a typewriter. Currently available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X, so every writer can enjoy distraction-free quality writing time.

Visit FocusWriter here.

4. Freedom

We’ll take this one step further, and if simply having a clean screen in front of you isn’t quite enough to keep you off of social media, welcome Freedom into your writing life. With Freedom, you have the ability to not only block apps and websites that keep you away from productive writing time, but also cover all of your devices. Freedom allows a great amount of customization to block exactly those websites and apps that you know you cannot resist, and even has the option to schedule sessions ahead of time, taking the need for great willpower right off the table. If you’re really hard core, you can enter Locked Mode, which prevents you from modifying a Freedom session while it's running. No matter if you need a little help or a full on intervention, Freedom will help you block distractions and get the job done.

Visit Freedom here.

5. Write Or Die

If you’re a writer who is looking to dip your toes into the world of fast drafting, or maybe you need to shut down a nagging internal editor that has you writing too slowly, you might check out Write Or Die. This somewhat scary web application encourages relentless forward progress by punishing our tendencies to avoid writing. It’s simple, really. You just start typing in the provided box, and as long as you keep going, all is well. But the second you stop, a grace period begins ticking away before the consequences kick in. You can set your own consequences varying from a gentle nudge to complete erasure of the wonderful words you just wrote. It’s easy to set a time or word count goal and stick to it as you’re gently (or not-so-gently) nudged into keeping up the good work.

Visit Write Or Die here.

6. Grammarly

If you are looking to increase clarity in your writing in 2017, there is a wonderful grammar checker in Grammarly. This free application instantly fixes over 250 types of common grammatical errors, many of which are not detected by Microsoft Word. Besides grammar help, Grammarly also catches contextual spelling errors and poor vocabulary usage in nearly anything you write on the web. Whether you’re writing a short story or novel, or drafting a social media or blog post, Grammarly can help you make sure your writing is clear and concise, every time.

Visit Grammaly here.

7. The Star Sticker Calendar

This tool is one that you can actually make yourself, and although it appears to be too simple to believe, it is the sworn tried and true method for some of the most successful authors (we are looking at you, Victoria Schwab) out there for boosting motivation and tracking progress. Robin Schneider, author of the Young Adult novel, The Beginning of Everything, explains the project and process in this post, but it is really quite simple. You basically grab a calendar and some fancy stickers, and set out with a goal. Every day you do the thing, you get a sticker. Break it down as much as you like. Maybe 500 words is your incremental goal. You wrote 1,500 words today? Yay! Three stickers! Seriously—sounds super simple, but it’s also super motivating to see those stickers grouped on your daily calendar. It also makes the days when you have none look mighty bleak, thus prompting you to do a least a little something! Don’t dis it till you try it!

These seven tools will get you started in reaching your writing goals in the new year, but we’d also love to hear which other writing tools you’re using to guarantee success.

About the author

Riki has a long-standing love affair with all things books and writing. She indulged her love for all things literary with a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University and is currently studying at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Although she is well past her own teen years, Riki’s reading passion lies with Young Adult literature where she devours books that handle the “firsts” in life. When not reading and writing she can be found yelling at the television while watching sports.

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