Staff Picks: Our Favorite Writing Resources in 2023
Written by Camryn Flowers
In 2020, we made a blog post highlighting the team’s favorite writing tools. This time, we wanted to highlight not only tools, but resources as well! While some resources previously mentioned are listed here (they’re just that good), there are some new ones that deserve a mention.
Here at CamCat, we love Grammarly. It has tons of amazing features that everyone can benefit from. Aside from the standard spelling, grammar, style, and tone checks, Grammarly also scans your documents for plagiarism. There are some features that are locked behind a premium subscription, but even the basic version can improve your document. Another cool feature, offered to both free and premium users, is the weekly insights email Grammarly sends out. It tracks your writing streak, shows you how many words it analyzed for you, your accuracy, how many unique words you used, and even your most repeated mistakes! And it can do all this (aside from the email of course) in your browser. If you use Chrome, it’s available as an extension.
If your writing is full of clichés, and you’re sick of banging your head against a brick wall to try and avoid them, try Cliché Finder. It’s free and easy to use. It just scans your text and identifies any clichés, easy as pie!
Writing is hard. Trying to make the words go the way you want them to is even harder. Sometimes, you overcomplicate a sentence or use too many adverbs. Hemingway is an app that scans your text/documents for readability. It also has the capability to export in numerous formats, publish directly to WordPress and Medium, and format into HTML for webpages.
We’ve all seen the MasterClass ads for Gordon Ramsey teaching us to cook, but did you know that there are 20 Writing MasterClasses available? You can learn from N. K. Jemisin, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and more! You simply pick how much learning you wish to do in a week and pick the writing course you want, and you’re ready to start learning!
The last time we talked about ProWritingAid, it was to highlight their in-depth reports on common writing mistakes like alliteration and clichés. Similar to the aforementioned tools, ProWritingAid has its own prose checker, MasterClasses, and is available in numerous applications. Sometimes, they even run sessions for writers, and next week (April 24th–27th) they will be running Crime Writers’ Week.
Crime Writers’ Week will host 20 free sessions about, you guessed it, crime writing. Signup is available now and if you can’t make it live there will be a free replay available afterwards!
No shade to the big boys like Scrivener and Ulysses, but sometimes the greatest tools are the simplest. Google Docs, and its umbrella, Google Drive, offer excellent file-sharing capabilities, ease of use, simplified tools, outlines, and more. The best part? It’s free!
If you struggle with finding time to write, allow us to introduce you to the Marinara Timer! It offers three “flavors” of timer. First is the Pomodoro Timer. You work for three 25-minute cycles, take a 5-minute break, then after the 4th Pomodoro cycle, you take a 15-minute break. However, if this is too rigid for you, or if life just simply doesn’t allow you to work on that schedule, they’ve come up with a custom timer. You can customize each period and break length to best suit your needs. It works great for writing or if you really need to motivate yourself to fold the laundry. Last but not least is the Kitchen Timer. You know the one. Set a time, and let it run out. Easy peasy.
Rocketbook is arguably one of the best notebooks on the market for writers. Using the erasable Pilot Frixion pens, you can take notes, write, and even sketch your characters. Then, with a mobile device, scan them to your computer. When you’ve filled all the pages or just want to start over, simply wipe the pages with a damp cloth, let them dry, and you’re good to go! The Rocketbook Fusion is small enough to fit inside small backpacks and purses, making it easy to carry around and take notes when you need to. It also helps cut down on the use of sticky notes, as all my notes are in one place and easily transferable to my computer.
Writing is hard. Art is hard. Creating a world by pulling ideas from your head is an extreme challenge. Tools only get us so far. They don’t teach you to write, but they sure do make it easier to do so. We at CamCat hope the tools we’ve used and continue to use are able to help you share your idea with the world.
* Note: we have some affiliate links in this post. They help us pay for lots of pet treats.