Best Writing Apps for Productivity? Top Expert Picks

Laptop on a brown table beside a black coffee a white cup and notepad

As a writer, having the right tools can be the difference between endlessly staring at a blank page and cranking out words with the efficiency of a literary drill sergeant. When you’re surrounded by digital distractions, writing apps for productivity can keep you focused on the creative bit – the writing. But with so many options, it’s hard to know which ones are worth the time and effort (and expense). So with that in mind, I reached out to a handful of top experts to get their opinions on the best writing apps for maximum productivity.

From a writer’s perspective on using text shortcodes in ‘Magical’ to a CEO & Founder’s endorsement of ‘Evernote’, they’ve shared how their personal favourites have transformed their writing process. And as I love a good writing app, I’ll be chiming in with what works for me. So put aside your procrastination (you can do it later) and let’s dive into these hand-picked recommendations, shall we?

  • Magical: Streamline with Text Shortcodes
  • FocusWriter: Minimalist Distraction-Free Interface
  • Notion: Versatile All-in-One Workspace
  • Grammarly: Real-Time Writing Enhancement
  • Scrivener: Organizational Tool for Writers
  • Evernote: Cross-Device Idea Management
  • Momentum and Todoist: Focus and Simplicity

Magical: Streamline with Text Shortcodes

Adrian-Tan-Featured

“Outside of ChatGPT and its equivalents, I think my favourite app to boost productivity would be Magical (getmagical.com). It is a text-expander app, so I can just assign a shortcode for a huge chunk of text (that I tend to reuse). Instead of copying and pasting, I would just trigger it with the shortcode. It saves me tons of time and mistakes otherwise made during copying and pasting.”

Adrian Tan, Writer, Adrian Tan

For those unfamiliar, Magical is a nifty text expander that allows you to create custom keyboard shortcuts to quickly insert longer snippets of text. So instead of wasting time laboriously typing out that company boilerplate paragraph or character description over and over, you just set up a shortcode (like “cmpny” to expand to the full company description) and let Magical do the heavy lifting. Brilliant for cutting down on tedious retyping.

FocusWriter: Minimalist Distraction-Free Interface

Yara Abboud - Featured

“FocusWriter is ideal for a distraction-free environment with features to enhance focus and organization. It boasts a minimalist interface, hides away toolbars, and lets you work in full-screen mode. Its customizable themes further allow you to personalize your writing space. Additionally, it hosts built-in timers and word-count tracking, while keeping your projects organized with multi-document support. Though it may not be for everyone, it’s certainly worth exploring if you’re looking to streamline your writing process and boost your productivity.”

Yara Abboud, B2B Content Writer (HR, MarTech & Fintech)

As someone who is constantly tempted by the siren calls of social media, YouTube and endless cups of tea, I absolutely understand where Yara is coming from. Focuswriter is like the word processors of old – blessedly simple. That minimalist, distraction-blocking writing space, stripped of anything nonessential is a valuable tool in itself. I love the sound of something you can customize to create an atmosphere ideally suited to your creative flow. FocusWriter sounds like a great place to dive into some deep work. It can’t stop you from getting another cup of tea first though…

Notion: Versatile All-in-One Workspace

Rebecca Curtins - Featured

“My favourite writing app to boost productivity is Notion. Its versatility and all-in-one workspace design make it an exceptional tool for organizing thoughts, research, and drafts in a highly structured yet flexible manner. Notion excels in enabling users to create custom templates, which streamlines the writing process for various projects, from articles to novels. Its ability to integrate databases, Kanban boards, and to-do lists within the same ecosystem also facilitates seamless tracking of writing progress, research materials, and deadlines. The collaborative features further enhance its appeal, allowing for easy sharing and feedback gathering from peers or editors. This comprehensive set of features, combined with a clean, user-friendly interface, makes Notion an invaluable asset for writers looking to enhance their productivity and keep their projects organized efficiently.”

Rebecca Curtins, Content Writer, Author Ghost Writer

Notion really does live up to the hype. As Rebecca says, you can pretty much house everything from story ideas, outlines and research to to-do lists and drafts all in one customizable space. It’s a great way to get organised. Especially if you’re a big-picture kind of writer (you’ve heard about my desk) and have no idea where all the post-its went. 

Grammarly: Real-Time Writing Enhancement

Diana Royanto - Featured

“Grammarly offers several features that enhance the writing process and improve overall productivity. Firstly, Grammarly provides real time grammar and spelling checks, ensuring that my writing is error-free as I compose it. This feature helps me maintain focus on the content without worrying about basic grammatical mistakes or typos. Secondly, Grammarly offers suggestions for enhancing clarity, conciseness, and tone. It helps me refine my writing style and communicate ideas more effectively, whether I’m drafting professional emails, academic papers, or creative projects. Moreover, Grammarly’s integration with various platforms, such as web browsers, Microsoft Word, and Google Docs, allows me to access its functionalities seamlessly across different writing environments. This ensures consistency in the quality of my writing and streamlines my workflow.”

Diana Royanto, Writer, Milkwhale

Where would we be without Grammarly? As Diana says, there’s a lot to recommend it. Easily one of the best writing tools out there, even the free version of Grammarly is incredibly useful for quickly catching missed typos, fixing sentence structure and tweaking word choices to get the right tone. While it certainly doesn’t replace humans, it can boost your writing productivity by speeding up the editing process. Also, because of that handy browser extension, It’s such an integrated part of my writing that I forget it’s there. Grammarly will also send a nice email telling me of the many many thousands of words I’ve written, and like an unwanted (but useful) performance review, my greatest mistakes.

Scrivener: Organizational Tool for Writers

Gabrielle Yap - Featured-modified

“As a Senior Editor, I’ve tried quite a few writing apps to boost productivity, but my absolute favourite has to be Scrivener. It’s like a Swiss Army knife for writers! One of the main reasons I love it is its organizational features. You can keep all your research, outlines, drafts, and notes in one place, making it super easy to navigate through your project. Plus, it has a distraction-free mode, which is a lifesaver when you’re on a tight deadline and need to focus. Another thing I appreciate is its ability to handle large documents without slowing down. Trust me, when you’re dealing with lengthy articles or manuscripts, this is a game-changer. Overall, Scrivener just streamlines the writing process for me, allowing me to be more efficient and produce high-quality content for Carnivore Style.”

Gabrielle Yap, Senior Editor, Carnivore Style

Gabrielle Yap’s enthusiasm for Scrivener really resonates and I must admit I’m tempted to try it. Having all your draft pieces, character notes, setting descriptions, etc. compiled into one master project file seems infinitely superior to my current method of a bunch of docs scattered across Google Drive, random handwritten notes and that one notebook with the fox on the cover.

Wherever it is.

I’ve also heard good things about Scrivener from freelance writer friends. As writing apps go, it’s worth looking into, especially for anyone trying to keep up productivity on a larger project. I may need to take the plunge.

Evernote: Cross-Device Idea Management

Alex Stasiak - Featured

“My favourite writing app to boost productivity is Evernote. It allows me to jot down ideas, create to-do lists, and organize my thoughts all in one place. Plus, the ability to access my notes from any device keeps me on track no matter where I am. It’s like having a virtual assistant that never forgets a thing!”

Alex Stasiak, CEO & Founder, Startup House

Evernote is indeed one of the best note-taking apps. I’ve got quite a lot out of the free version over the years, using it to create a master list of work for this blog. The free version also includes the invaluable Web Clipper, one of the best tools out there for quick idea capture. Different price tiers include advanced features like integration with Slack, extra widgets and syncing with the Google Calendar app. It really does depend on your specific needs, but looking at how helpful it’s been for Alex, I’m tempted to go up a level for access to more notebooks.

Momentum and Todoist: Focus and Simplicity

Nicole Roberts Ryder typing on laptop, with a close up of a floral coffee mug in the foreground
Concentration Face…

Finding the best writing apps for productivity is all about finding what works best for you. As for my own workflow, I’m the kind of person who writes to-do lists the night before and then never looks at them again. Not great. To make my scattered brain focus, I need to have a reminder in front of me as soon as I sit down (Once I’ve made that tea, tidied the desk and ignored my emails). Momentum and Todoist, while not writing apps per se, really help boost my productivity.

Momentum is a Chrome extension. It gives you a dashboard in place of a new tab with daily inspiration, focus and a to-do list. Momentum Plus now includes AI integration, a customizable Pomodoro technique timer, and Tab Stash, which allows you to save dozens of tabs for later. Genius.  

It also integrates with my other favourite task manager app: Todoist.

white notebook with a to do list and black pen lying on it

I’ve been using Todoist for years. It’s an easy to-do list app that allows you to sync across devices. The free version is simple but effective, you can sort everything into projects and check things off when you’re done. As someone constantly juggling multiple writing projects and deadlines, having a clean, straightforward to-do list app makes all the difference. I’ve found the Chrome extension enormously helpful in keeping track of writing goals.

Finally

These expert opinions offer a unique perspective on how different types of writing apps and productivity tools can create a huge boost for the writing process. Whether it’s streamlining repetitive tasks, creating a distraction-free environment, or refining your writing skills, there’s something here for everyone. Ultimately, any writing assistant app that lets you focus on getting words on the page is a good thing. So go ahead and try out some of the recommendations above and see what works for you. Let me know which one you go for! 

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