Free or inexpensive writing apps for iPad
The following are my favourite writing apps for ipad or smartphones, as well as some support processes that I’m using to write my latest book.
It’s taken me a while to find the best work flow apps and practices, so I highly recommend experimenting with whichever apps appeal to you.
I hope this list will inspire you to explore them all, but if you’re keen to get your first or next book written and ready for your eager readers, my advice would be to just pick one and start – you can refine the process as you go along.
Appy writing!! 😉
(Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
The iPad apps I’m using to write my next book
I love the Notes app that comes with all apple devices. It’s simple and all I need to jot down those ideas that like to arrive while I’m going about my daily life.
And now that it syncs across my phone and iPad, I use it to both collect and sort my ideas and writing snippets.
I’ve dabbled with other basic note-taking apps but this is the one I always come back to.
• • •
Evernote is useful for longer writing sessions.
If I feel inspired to write an entire section or chapter, I’ll open a new Evernote page. (Wunderlist notes are limited in length)
I also like the ability to create notepad stacks in Evernote, so again I can shuffle and sort my collection of notes into coherent sections and chapters, and ultimately, my first completed draft.
(I’m always amazed how books seem to come together all of a sudden! As though they reach a point when the pieces all start working together and everything falls into place. It’s always a good writing day when that happens. 🙂 )
• • •
I’m new to Dropbox paper but I am enjoying how clean and simple it is.
Cloud syncing is essential when you’re an avid note-taker – otherwise, you can become overwhelmed with too many notes and so much chaos that you don’t know where to begin. (So you don’t…)
I speak from experience.
I’m currently using Dropbox paper to collate my polished drafts – so I can clearly see what I’ve got in a good stage of development.
paper is becoming the place for my completed pieces of writing, and Evernote is where I keep research notes, relevant quotes, initial thoughts and musings etc… – everything else that supports the writing process.
• • •
I use Workflowy for outlining.
After years of searching for an outlining tool that worked for me, I was overjoyed when I discovered WorkFlowy – so much so that I wrote a blog post all about it.
What I love is that it is infinitely zoom-in-and-out-able – meaning I can begin with a general idea, then drill down into more specifics.
For example, I can begin with a book idea, which I can then breakdown into an outline, then I can break each of those points into a chapter and so on…
I can even use it to outline paragraphs so I can be clear on the goal of each section.
I’m finding this a fantastic tool for outlining but I am a creative nonfiction writer – I don’t know if it would work as well in writing fiction.
If you’re a fiction-writing Workflowy user – I’d love to hear from you. 🙂
• • •
**UPDATE: Wunderlist has been discontinued. I’m currently using its replacement Microsoft To Do for my lists, along with my new find: Trello for outlining. (See picture below.)
List-making can be very soothing for the brain and a good antidote to creative chaos.
I enjoy more calm and creativity when I get all the ‘brain flies’ out of my head and into some coherent order.
So I use my list app for the many different aspects of my life.
But I also find it helpful in organising my ideas and the many To Dos that crop up during any writing project.
I can collect relevant links and articles online and keep them all together in a project list.
I can make a list of all the actions I could take to help with my book ideas.
And I can make a list of chapters, sections and outlines, and then shuffle these around into Idea Buckets and Project Buckets.
This is how my books evolve – not just from dedicated composing, but also from lots of rearranging and developing of threads and ideas.
• • •
I have been a keen mind mapper for decades.
I used to create paper mindmaps at schools, and then at art college we would do ‘mood boards’ using collage.
These days I mindmap on my iPad using the app from the father of mind mapping – Tony Buzan.
I like to keep it simple – I don’t tend to colour code or use images.
All I use this for is to collect my ideas, brainstorm and get everything out of the spinning loops in my head and onto a virtual page where I can see everything and tease it into some kind of order.
Again, I love that these are infinite and can take off in any direction (like my brain tends to do) and there are no paper edges to limit the flow of ideas.
These mindmaps also serve as useful reference guides when I get lost in the process – I can check back in and see what I was trying to achieve.
Sometimes though, just the act of mind mapping helps to create clarity and spark ideas, even if I never go back to review it.
• • •
And finally, the last stage of my books is to compile all those ideas, all those worked up and edited notes into something that resembles a first draft.
It may seem like my writing goes through a number of processes before it reaches this stage – and sometimes it does, that’s just how I work and how I most enjoy the process.
Of course, it’s entirely possible to write a book using Scrivener alone – I know it includes places for research and supplementary information.
For me though, I like to keep my Scrivener documents clean and clear – the book proper, so to speak.
I like to shape and plot and plan elsewhere, and then when my work makes its way into Scrivener, I am clear on the outline and the premise of the book.
Of course, there’s still the editing to be done and the polishing of future drafts.
But at least by this point, it feels like a book, or a book-in-progress.
• • •
It’s just one way of writing a book on an iPad – you might prefer a different collection of writing apps, but I hope just seeing what’s possible is helpful for you.
And if you’d previously believed that to write your books you’d need better tools or resources, I hope you’ll begin to rethink how you could begin to start making progress right now.
There are many, many ways a book can evolve from idea to first draft.
I’m sharing my process to show how books can be written without the conventional desk time or traditional linear process.
And after many years of testing other methods of writing, composing, crafting etc… I’ve found that this method of capturing, exploring, shuffling and then crafting is the most aligned with the way my mind works.
This may not be the fastest way to write a book, but it ensures the journey is easy and enjoyable (which ensures I write!) – and it keeps the projects moving.
It also has some benefits in bypassing resistance, eg avoiding the paralysis that can occur when you ‘sit down to write your book’.
In other words – it works for me.
I invite you to experiment, cherry-pick, tweak and test until you find what works best for you.
And I hope some of these apps and techniques will spark some new ideas for how you can adapt your writing process so that you can start writing now – and writing more freely and more often.
If you like the idea of writing your next book on your iPad, I hope you’ll play around with these ideas – most of the apps are free, so you can easily try them out to see which ones work best for you and your creative process.
Good luck! And happy writing.
Let me know when you’ve written that book. 🙂
It’s designed to help you get clear, get focused and get writing!
There are more details here: #writethatbook – 5-Day Kick-start email course for writers
It’s free. 🙂
“I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate your courses.
These little advices lead me to thinking more deeply about my book, about the reasons I’m writing it…
And well, today inspiration kicked in and I finally got a headstart!
Now that I have started, I don’t think I can stop!”
• • •