Four Alternatives to a Regular Word Processor

Many writers are quite satisfied using pen and paper, Word, Google Docs, or Pages to complete their writing projects—and certainly, pen and paper was the only method available to writers for centuries. But when those tools don’t quite get the job done, here are some others to consider.

  • Q10 was developed by Spanish programmer, designer, and writer Joaquín Bernal. It is a no-frills, distraction-free word processor available as a free download. Despite its simple design, Q10 has plenty of cool features to keep a writer happy. Its default display mode is a dark gray background with orange text—it’s easier on the eyes and the electric bill. The user can customize the background color, text color, and font, as well as set a timer in the program itself and set word count goals for different sections of the document. The one major drawback is that it lacks text formatting and grammar checking, so it’s not for polishing a final draft.
  • Scrivener is the only tool on this list with a price tag—currently available for forty dollars—but many writers will tell you it’s worth the cost. With a built-in spell-checker, file indexing system, and web browser, Scrivener is perfect for most every written project from research papers to novels to cookbooks. One feature unique to Scrivener is its corkboard mode, where the user can write note cards summarizing scenes or chapters, attribute different colored labels to them, and rearrange them just as you would physical cards. The user can also view two versions of a document within the same program for editing or reference purposes.
  • 750 Words is a free, accessible website with a simple principle and some great analytic features. The website encourages writers to write 750 words per day (or the equivalent of three handwritten pages). But shy writers, don’t fret! Your words are completely private, unless you choose to share them. The coolest part of the website, however, is that it provides statistics about the tone of the day’s writing, the writer’s pace, the senses mentioned most in the piece, frequently used words, and more.
  • My last entry is Trello, an organizational system used by Oolies and many other businesses. Trello is marketed as a tool for project management—indeed, here at Ooligan Press we use it to keep track of our various projects throughout the year—but it could easily be used as a writing tool. The user can set up “boards,” say one for each project the user is working on; “lists” for specific aspects of a project (research tasks or writing tasks, for example); and “cards” that track the user’s progress. Trello also allows for documents, images, websites, and files to be “attached” to cards for easy access. And unlike the previous entries in this list, Trello is great for groups; team members can delegate work and keep track of communal resources.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the tools available to writers, but merely a place to start. Best of luck to you in your writing endeavors!