Here are 12 of the best tools for writers. The first four items on this list are high-tech splurges we think are worth it. The rest are completely free so you can treat yourself. Enjoy!
1. The Iogear Mobile Digital Scribe wireless pen
Sometimes staring at a blank computer screen can empty your head of all good ideas. That’s when it’s time to break out the old-fashioned legal pad.
Now, with the Iogear Mobile Digital Scribe wireless pen, you won’t have to spend time typing your notes later. Just attach the receiver that comes with the pen to the top of your paper. Write like normal. The receiver collects and stores your notes as you write.
When you’re done, plug the receiver into your computer’s USB port. You can then import your notes as an image file or have the program turn them into digital, editable text.
This pen is the perfect gift for Barefoot Writers. It’s portable, gets the good ideas flowing, and it turns longhand notes into typed text in minutes.
2. AquaNotes, the waterproof notepad
It’s true; writers get the best ideas in the most inconvenient places. I think we’d all agree the shower gets credit as the best place to generate ideas.
But, what do you do when you have your next Big Idea and shampoo on your head? That’s no longer an issue with AquaNotes, the waterproof notepad for your shower.
AquaNotes hangs in your shower by a suction cup and includes a pencil. Water rolls right off the paper but your message stays clear. No more jumping out of the shower before you’re done to capture an idea.
3. Digital Voice Recorder
Every writer needs to be ready to capture a great idea as soon as it hits him or her. That’s why, if you don’t have a digital voice recorder, it should be at the top of your wish list.
A digital voice recorder is like the ultimate freedom for a barefoot writer. You can capture great ideas whether you’re driving, at your kid’s soccer game, or taking a walk. Just hit “record” and start talking. Then, replay when you get back to your office.
A digital model is ideal as they store hours of talk time, but you don’t need to get anything fancy. Just look for one with good battery life and a decent number of recording hours.
Of course, you can buy a digital recording app for many smartphones as well. If you have an iPhone, try “iProRecorder.”
4. Dragon Dictation
If you type slowly, hate to type, or prefer to speak your ideas aloud, Dragon Dictation is a lifesaver. It’s a handy program available for laptops, desktop computers and some smartphones.
All you have to do is talk. Dragon instantly converts your spoken words into type on your device. Because it learns to recognize your voice, it gets better the more you use it.
If you get the app for your smart phone – or use Siri on the iPhone – it’s a great way to record ideas away from your desk without having to type them later. You’ll save time and keystrokes.
5. Write or Die, or An End to Writer’s Block
Write or Die, a popular web application for writers, claims to put the “prod” in productivity.
This app, which is available for your desktop or iPad, was created by “Dr. Wicked.” He says writers need rewards when they succeed and penalties when they don’t.
That’s why Write or Die let’s you set your own options, like a word count goal and a time limit. You can also disable the backspace and the save command until you reach your word count goal.
You also choose your own consequence level, which ranges from “Gentle” or “Kamikaze.” The “Gentle” consequence is a pop-up box. “Kamikaze” mode starts deleting your words if you stop writing for too long.
Write or Die is a fun app. If your word count is your main goal, it’s quite useful. If you’re writing for satisfaction, not punishment, you might want to stay away from “Kamikaze” mode.
As a Barefoot Writer, it’s ideal if you can take your files anywhere. Portable files mean you can work on the beach, on the road, or anywhere else with a computer and Internet access. That’s where Dropbox comes in.
Dropbox works with nearly every computer, browser, and smart phone. Any file you save to Dropbox is instantly available on your other devices and your account on the Dropbox website. This makes it perfect for the Barefoot Writer who needs to travel unexpectedly from time to time … or wants to take an impromptu vacation!
Dropbox also has other neat features, like the ability to share files and folders with others and stellar security.
Best of all? Dropbox is free if you need less than 2GBs of space. After that, reasonably priced plans are available. You can even earn extra space.
Wunderlist is a free, easy-to-use task manager. It’s available for Mac, Windows, and many smart phones. Plus, because you can access it from a web browser, you can see your to-do lists anywhere.
Some of its features are the option to collaborate with others, get notifications, and share your lists by email.
Successful copywriter Pam Foster says Wunderlist “Keeps me on top of my daily tasks and goals (and replaces the many Post-It notes I used to have all over my desk).”
8. 43 Things
If your holiday festivities involve setting New Year’s resolutions, you’ll love the free website called 43Things.com.
43Things runs on the philosophy that if you make your goals public, you’re more likely to achieve them. 43Things is a great way to share your goals with friends and family, get the support you need to follow through, and meet people with similar goals.
You can even link your goals to your Facebook page and link your account to your blog so you can journal about your progress along the way.
Give the gift of goal achievement to yourself this holiday season at 43Things.com.
Evernote has been called, “The Barefoot Writer’s Secret Weapon for Organizing Your Writing Projects.”
That’s because Evernote allows you to keep track of everything – notes, photos, checklists, web pages, and more – in one place.
Evernote also allows you to enjoy one of the biggest benefits of being a Barefoot Writer, which is that you can write from anywhere. Evernote can be accessed all over the world via a laptop, desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone. You can even record voice notes in Evernote while driving or taking a walk.
Evernote has a great free account, which makes it an easy gift to give yourself this year. But, if you need more space, a paid option is available.
Wridea.com is a free web service that helps you remember and organize ideas. It’s simple to navigate and is searchable. Plus, because you can share your ideas, it’s easy to get feedback on them.
You can also choose to collaborate on ideas with a few select colleagues, or open a topic up for brainstorming with the entire Wridea community.
Other features of Wridea are categories and pages for different ideas and commenting on ideas. It even has a feature called, “Idea Rain,” which lets you “sit back, focus on your screen, and watch your ideas raining.”
Wridea is a fun, useful, free gift to give yourself this season.
Collaborating is something many Barefoot Writers do often. If you usually email copy back and forth, you’ll love the simplicity of MixedInk.
MixedInk is a free online collaborative writing tool. It’s available 24/7 and it’s easy to set up. It allows you to invite people to work on writing projects together and vote on the best version of text. Plus, it has “Authorship tracking” so you can see who wrote each word.
Computers are designed to look like the sun. During the day, this isn’t a problem.
But, if you enjoy working late at night or checking your email right before bed, staring at the glow of the screen tells your brain it’s daytime. This can make it hard to fall asleep.
F.lux solves this problem by fixing the color of your computer’s display to match the time of day. At night, it automatically adjusts to look like your indoor lights. During the day, it looks like sunlight again.
The great thing about f.lux is that it works automatically. You set it and forget it. Also, it’s free and available for Mac and Windows.
So, there you have it — our 12 recommended tools for Barefoot Writers!