The Best Distraction-Free Writing Apps


If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you just stopped whatever writing you are pretending to do and googled “distraction-free writing apps.”

So, let’s be clear: you’re the distraction.

If you can’t write what you need to write in your CMS, a Word doc, Text Edit, Google Docs, Evernote, or similar, then you are the problem. Each of these programs let you start with a blank screen. If you’re one of the few people in the world that can still read your own handwriting, you can even go the analog route and use pen and paper. But know that when you search for a “distraction free writing app,” what you really want is to buy yourself a few more minutes — hours, days — before writing that thing that you need to write.

I should know. For the past six months or so, I have been downloading and testing distraction-free writing apps just knowing that I’ll find one that will be the key to me upping my productivity. To my chagrin, I haven’t been writing a ton of essays or blog posts or novel chapters lately. But I have enjoyed playing around with several apps for my Mac and iPad/iPhone to see what works best for my writing and jotting needs.

Following are quick reviews of Scrivener, Ulysses, IA Writer, Byword, and Hemingway. These are some of the most talked about and well-reviewed writing apps out there, so I had to try them for myself.

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How Not to Succeed As a Freelance Writer

Typewriter at the flea market

I’ve been freelancing on and off for more than 15 years. While I’ve been lucky to land some decent-paying projects with a few well-known publishers and online outlets, I’ve always wondered whether there is a secret formula to getting more work.

In fact, there is a secret formula to getting more freelance assignments, just as there is a secret formula to getting a fitter body: do more, work more. In both cases that’s easier said than done. I know what I should be doing but often I lack the motivation and stamina to get to the next level.

This is why I’ve been thinking about how to approach this issue from the opposite direction. I am not sure how one succeeds as a freelance writer — success is subjective and hard to define — but I do know what it takes not to succeed.

With the hindsight of 15 years, here are the things I should’ve done to get further as a writer. Consider it anti-advice from someone who knows better.

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