Doing Digital: Best Apps for Getting New Writing Started

Laptop on table
Category: Writing

Launching into a brand new project can be an incredibly daunting prospect. Who knows whether your idea will work once you start writing it? If you’ll have the energy to carry it all the way to completion? Or even if it’s any good in the first place? The best way to get going is to put all of those questions and fears out of your mind so you can simply start writing. Easier said than done, perhaps, but there are a few great writing apps designed to help you dive right in.


Puts the focus on the words on the page

Great for projects in their early stages, FocusWriter is a simple text app that really puts the focus on the words on the page. It can block all other distractions on your screen, has an auto-save function and lets you set timers and alarms to keep your writing sessions on track. It’s easy to keep an eye on your progress (and not your social media pages!) and you can even add typewriter sound effects.

You’ll probably want to transfer your writing to a different programme when you get to the serious editing stage, but FocusWriter is a free piece for software for a variety of devices that’s ideal for getting all those early ideas down.


If the thought of starting writing straight off the bat fills you with terror, then this nifty little mind-mapper might be just what you need. It’s bright, colourful and has a constantly expanding canvas so you can go as big (or as small) as you need to. You can also use it to set goals for yourself by syncing it with your to-do apps.

It also pairs brilliantly with Ulysses, a well-loved writing app, great for taking your mind-map on to the next level.

Lists for Writers

Get your brainstorming sessions off to a good start

Another great resource for anyone who needs a little help getting over inspiration blocks, Lists for Writers offers a ton of lists of prompts and ideas to help get your brainstorming sessions off to a good start. Whether its occupations and obsessions for your characters or plot lines to give your story drive, you’ll find plenty to play around with.

You can also shuffle and search features to help you come up with the unexpected, and there’s a notepad feature so you can get your favourite ideas down without leaving the app.

Outlining Your Novel Workbook

If you’re the sort of writer who knows they like an outline before they start building scenes, this could be just the software for you. Outlining Your Novel is designed to help writers get a really strong foundation down for their stories by giving them an intuitive digital space to write out and organise the various ideas, strands and characters your project includes.

You can brainstorm your ideas and outlines into the programme and export scenes or section as needed. It asks you to think hard about premises, characters, story structures, and scene outlines and has a really easy-to-use fill-in-the-blanks format. It’s a little pricier than some of the other options, so for serious outliners only.  


Find other cool ways to use tech with our Doing Digital strand.

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