100 Useful Web Tools for Writers

All kinds of writers, including poets, biographers, journalists, biz tech writers, students, bloggers and technical writers, take a unique approach to their jobs, mixing creativity with sustainability. Whether you’re a freelance writer just scraping by or someone with a solid job and more regular hours, the Internet can provide you with unending support for your practical duties like billing, scheduling appointments, and of course getting paid; as well as for your more creative pursuits, like developing a plot, finding inspiration and playing around with words. Turn to this list for 100 useful Web tools that will help you with your career, your sanity and your creativity whenever your write.

Getting Organized

Thanks to the Internet, disorganized writers are no longer a cliche. Keep track of appointments, interviews and deadlines with these handy web-based tools.

  1. Writing.com: Join this community to get access to your own online portfolio, e-mail services, writing tips, writers workshops, contests and more.
  2. ubernote: Remember all of your workshops, meetings, social events and deadlines with this tool, which can manage task lists, contact information, bookmarks, and more.
  3. Google Calendar: Share events with your editor or partners with this online calendar that works with many other productivity and CRM tools.
  4. Evernote: Evernote is an attractive tool that lets you take notes and clip certain websites from your computer or your cell phone. It also comes with a search tool so you can easily find photos and notes from your desktop.
  5. Notesake: This tool is marketed towards college students, but its note organizer is also good for writers.
  6. Wridea: Keep track of your brainstorming ideas, places to send work and anything else you need to remember on this remote access site.
  7. EssentialPIM: Manage events, to-do lists, reviews, notes and writing ideas with this comprehensive tool which can sync up with your iPod, Google Calendar Outlook or Palm device.
  8. ajaxWrite: Firefox users can use this Web-based word processor that can also recognize Microsoft Word.
  9. TreePad Lite: This all-in-one organizer is free to use and can host notes, e-mails, links, and text.
  10. Tellico: This open source tool organizes collections, including poems, bibliographies, chapters, book series, blog posts and more.

Finding Inspiration

Beat down writer’s block by using these online idea prompts and inspirational tools.

  1. The Imagination Prompt Generator: Click through the prompts to generate different ideas in response to questions like "Is there a God?" and "If your tears could speak to you, what would they say?"
  2. Fire Under Your Butt — Inspiration for Writers: This page has inspiring quotes, tips and photos to get your brain going.
  3. Inspiration for Writers: Visit this website often for encouraging writing tips and even a writer’s prayer.
  4. Words of Wisdom: Children’s book author and illustrator Tammy Yee put together this page of humorous and encouraging quotes to inspire herself and others to keep writing.
  5. Geoffrey’s Automatic Story and Idea Generator: Fill in the blanks to construct an outline of three simple story ideas.
  6. Writing and Blogging Prompts: Click through the photos and prompt ideas to get inspired to write about holidays, the weather, geographical locations, food and more.
  7. 31 Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Writing: This list has lots of tips for generating new ideas, including online forums, eavesdropping, social media sites and people watching.
  8. 7 Can’t-Miss Ways to Kick-Start the Writing Habit: From writing headlines to writing crap, this list has realistic ways to get you out of your funk.
  9. Tipd: This is a prominent social media site where you can see a lot of "baity" (sometimes controversial) content–always good for getting the creative juices flowing. You can also submit your OWN news story or writing here. Similar sites with a lot of ‘news of the day’ inspiration are Digg and Mixx.
  10. Creative Writing Prompts: Hover over a number from 1-302 to get a different prompt. Examples include "write about a weird day in your workplace" and "write about someone you would love to see put in jail."
  11. The Story Starter: Click the button for the first sentence of a random story and then finish it yourself. There are over 345 million ideas!

Getting Gigs

For many writers, finding a gig is the hardest part of their career. Stalk the listings on these sites for improving your chances at connecting with employers.

  1. Guru: Guru is a freelancers’ job board and supposedly "the world’s largest online service marketplace."
  2. Ed2010: Check out Ed’s Whisper Jobs section, which posts internships and paid jobs for magazine gigs around the country.
  3. Places for Writers: Learn about contests, publishing awards, grants and jobs on this site.
  4. Elance: Connect with employers on this site, which currently posts nearly 500 writing and translation jobs.
  5. Freelance Switch Job Board: Visit this site for copywriting and writing jobs.
  6. Online Writing Jobs: Find full-time, freelance and internship writing opportunities here.
  7. Freelance Writing Jobs: Learn effective ways to design your portfolio, pitch story ideas and contact editors on this site.
  8. iFreelance: This job site lets you post a project or a profile while you search for freelancing jobs.
  9. Poe War: Search jobs by state or by categories like online/web, journalism, technical writing, copywriting, editing, general writing and others.

Communicating with Vendors, Editors and Partners

These project management and collaboration tools will help you stay in touch with classmates or coworkers

  1. Highrise: Manage all of your employers, vendors, designers and partners with this CRM tool.
  2. eFax: If you work at home, you probably don’t have a lot of extra room for bulky fax machines. Use this web tool for easy faxing all over the world.
  3. PDF Online: If one of your employers or editors needs your writing in a PDF format, you can convert it to this online version for free.
  4. Backpack: This 37 Signals tool organizes group calendars, announcements, files, task lists and more, perfect for writers who frequently work with or manage others.
  5. WriteWith: Manage your pieces online with your editors and agents using this tool.
  6. Campfire: Another 37 Signals tool, this collaboration solution lets you set up secure chat groups where you can send and share files.
  7. Loose Stitch: Share outlines for your pieces with writing partners and editors with this totally free collaboration tool.
  8. Teamspinner: This beta tool is especially useful for those working on longer pieces like novels or biographies. You get to design the structure for each project you work on, making it easy to stay true to your theme based on your outlines, design and work process.
  9. WhosOff: If you work at home, it’s probably difficult for you to remember which of your colleagues are in town and which can’t be reached. Use this tool to straighten it all out.
  10. Central Desktop: Utilize the web conferencing feature as well as the group workspaces and screen sharing capabilities on this project collaboration tool.

Networking and Marketing

Meet new agents, publishers, editors and readers by taking advantage of these web tools.

  1. Book Marketing Network: Book authors can join this network to find publishers, agents and marketers, check out the network blog, join groups and view photos or videos.
  2. The Web-Savvy Writer: Visit this blog often to learn how to market your writing online and attract new readers and publishers.
  3. 1000 Keyboards: Short story writers can connect on this website, which lets them browse stories and comment or critique them.
  4. Facebook: The marketing possibilities through Facebook are endless. Get a profile and start posting about your favorite books, your new stories and more.
  5. LibraryThing: Talk about all types of books and collections on this social networking site, where you’re sure to meet other writers with similar interests.
  6. Business Paper: Use this application to "manage and order business cards, cutting the administrative overhead and making quality control easier than ever before."
  7. Professional on the Web: Freelancers can get their portfolios listed on the Internet and manage a profile through this tool.

Just for Writing

Practice your writing and get language tips here.

  1. Writeboard: This collaborative writing tool also works with Backpack to keep all of your notes and pieces organized.
  2. English Forums: Get answers to your grammar questions here.
  3. yWriter4: A novelist and programmer designed this word processor solution that helps writers move around scenes and chapters while generating reports of your plot and themes.

Staying Grounded

A writer’s life can be fulfilling, but it’s also often lonely. Stay grounded by reaching out to other writers and contacts through these websites and social platforms to share your work, make new friends and maybe even earn a little extra cash.

  1. WriteWords: This online writer’s community has job listings, an events calendar, interviews with writers, inspirational tips, a writer’s forum and more.
  2. HupPages: HubPages gives writers the chance to get published online by writing about whatever they want. It’s a great tool for brainstorming, getting practice and keeping busy between gigs.
  3. Xomba: This online community of writers also offers some paid gigs.
  4. Booksie: This site lets you share your poems, short stories and other writing pieces with other writers and visitors to the site. You can also browse other stories and help promote your favorite authors.
  5. Writers’ Dock: This forum just for writers features a comedy department, poetry department, and radio "station."
  6. Poetry Soup: Poetry Soup is "the FREE international poetry community," and offers lots of writing guides, inspirational resources, blogs, contests, publishing news and the opportunity to publish your work.
  7. Editred: Editred is another writing community that has a forum, contest links and support for publishing your writing.
  8. Coffeehouse for Writers: This online coffeehouse offers writers a safe space for finding encouragement, taking online workshops, talking about books, and learning about the writing and publishing industries.
  9. Critique Circle: Visit this online writing center for writing tips that will improve your projects. It’s free to get an account, and you’ll receive between 7-10 critiques for each piece you submit.
  10. Today’s Woman: Women writers can turn to this writing community for a forum, plenty of writing resources, a place to submit stories or poems, and other support services.

Productivity Tools

Up your productivity with these tools, which manage your task lists, force you to practice and keep you connected to your clients and craft.

  1. Toodledo: Become more productive with this task master tool which offers mobile access and collaboration features.
  2. FreeMind: Stay on point with this open source mind mapping tool.
  3. Remember the Milk: Create a separate to-do list for each writing project you’ve got going on with Remember the Milk.
  4. Resources for Writers: Turn to this "front page" to learn about writing classes, writing tips and managing your career.
  5. Daily Writes: Sign up for this free 31-day e-mail writing workshop that sends you a different tip and writing exercise each day for a month.
  6. TeamViewer: Access your desktop and files from anywhere with this free tool.
  7. Word Count Plus: Use this Firefox add-on to give yourself an extra push and finish your work.
  8. PingMe: If you don’t have an editor or agent reminding you of deadlines, set up automatic alerts with PingMe so you’ll stay on task. Reminders can be sent via e-mail or text message to your phone.
  9. ClientScribe: This tool will keep you organized and on top of your assignments by keeping track of all of your communications with your clients, managers and partners.
  10. ProjectStat.us: If generating status reports and progress reports to your editor take up too much of your time, you can use this quick tool that lets you "easily manage your customers’ project info and allow your customers to see up-to-date project information at any time," without bothering you.

Getting Paid

Stop trying to hunt down your customers or agents for your next paycheck. Use these online tools for easy and fast contract signing and bill pay.

  1. FreshBooks: This popular tool helps you bill hours and send and receive payments online. It also works with PayPal and other similar services.
  2. LessAccounting: This tool helps non-accountants make sense of their finances and invoices online. You can also use other Google and Basecamp tools with LessAccounting.
  3. yaTimer: yaTimer is another time tracking tool that displays as a small window on your desktop. yaTimer can also support several different projects at once.
  4. EchoSign: Get your contracts and bills signed through this online service.
  5. Fluttervoice: This highly customizable invoicing tool lets you use your own logo and manage your finances "without the buttpain." It’s also free if you send no more than 3 invoice per month.
  6. Saasu: This "web finance engine" works with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Mac, Windows and Linux so that you can manage invoices and other finances on any computer.
  7. Seamless Online Signing: This is another tool that lets you send and receive electronic signatures.
  8. Time59: Use this tool for billing your customers and tracking your billable hours.
  9. invotrak: invotrak lets you track invoices for free so that you can keep your finances in order and follow up with late customers.
  10. SimplyBill: If invoicing customers and crunching numbers is your least favorite part of your job, use SimplyBill to save invoices as PDFs, e-mail invoices, subscribe to your invoices with RSS, send reminders and thank you messages and more.

Fun Little Extras

From international slang dictionaries to character tools, these fun tools are actually very valuable for students and professionals alike.

  1. The Alternative Dictionaries: Look up slang words in all types of languages, including Egyptian Arabic, Cherokee, Cantonese, Norwegian and many, many others.
  2. Blockbluster Plots: Martha Anderson helps writers develop story plots here.
  3. txt2tags: This document generator helps you create HTML codes for your work.
  4. The Social Dictionary: With this dictionary and thesaurus, you don’t ever have to "leave your browser’s address bar." You can also upload photos for definitions, which helps with brainstorming.
  5. StoryMash: If you aren’t in the mood to start a whole new project but want to stay in practice, join this collaborative fiction group, where you only have to write one chapter at a time.
  6. Protolize: Bookmark this page to search and discover all types of web tools that you can use to jazz up your projects. Categories include Java, Inspiration, Flash, Ruby and others.
  7. Character Questionnaire: This tool offers a fun and clever way for developing your characters.
  8. My Fonts: Give all or part of your text a little something extra when you play around with this stock photo site.
  9. World Wide Words: Learn the history and true meaning of phrases and words like "cock and bull story," "moniker" and "wiseacre" on this site.
  10. askCHARITY: Journalists benefit from this free contacts service that grants you access to contact information and more for charities all over.

Protecting Your Livelihood

For health insurance, file backup systems and copyright tools, turn to this list to protect your livelihood.

  1. ZManda: This open source backup tool will make you feel more secure about keeping your docs on the computer.
  2. Poets and Writers: This website supports poets and writers by advertising gigs, supporting an online community and helping with funding for writer’s events.
  3. Get in a Good Habit: Back Up Your Data: This article from PC World highlights several tools which will allow you to back up your files so they’re never lost.
  4. Sonar: Sonar is a submission tracker that offers "free manuscript tracking" capabilities so that you can organize rejections, publications, contests, markets and more.
  5. National Writers Union: This website has some free access resources, but becoming a member will grant you access to health insurance, writer alerts, a copyright guide and even lawsuit and contract information.
  6. The Authors Guild: Use this organization’s contract tools and legal support each time you start a new project or have a disagreement with your client.
  7. MyNewCompany.com: The free tools on this website instruct you on how to set up a business plan, find investors and come with a business or branding identity.
  8. Freelancers Union: Freelance and contract writers may want to consider joining this union, which posts jobs on their website, as well as discounts on everything from travel expenses to gym membership to drugstore purchases.
  9. Creative Commons: Find free tools on this site to copyright any of your work 100% or as a "Some Rights Reserved" project.
  10. Squarespace: Even if you aren’t technically an online writer, you can use this service to help you design a website to advertise your services or keep a blog that will help you practice.

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