7 Apps for Sharpening Your Writing Skills

Grab that high-tech toy you got over the holidays and make it help you to become a better writer by trying out a new app!Photo by Johan Larsson (Flickr)

Grab that high-tech toy you got over the holidays and use it to help you become a better writer!
Photo by Johan Larsson (Flickr)

If you’re anything like me, technology is often the scapegoat for your time-wasting. However, technology can also be a useful tool for improving your writing skills and keeping your mind sharp. Smartphone or tablet apps can help you learn new words, strengthen your grammar skills, and tighten your writing. Here are some apps for writers looking to stretch their brains:

Words With Friends
Similar to the board game Scrabble, this app might lead you to find words you never knew existed. Luckily, it’s very popular; you probably won’t be running out of people to play with any time soon. Sometimes, this leads to words that are not commonly used. My favorite, last-minute-winning Words With Friends word is “qi,” which is an alternative spelling of “chi.”

Johnny Grammar Word Challenge
Brought to you by the British Council, Johnny Grammar Word Challenge has a lot of fun quizzes and games for you to test your grammar knowledge. Though there are some differences between British English and American English, for the most part, Johnny Grammar can be a help.

Hemingway App
This recommendation should come with a disclaimer. I love Victorian-era writing, when writers were paid based on how much they wrote, and if you were to paste a paragraph from one of Charles Dickens’ novels into the Hemingway app, it would highlight almost all of the text. Good writing is a matter of opinion, and the app is far from perfect, but if you want to write short, concise, and clear sentences, this is the app for you. Occasionally paste some of your text into the app and see how often you use the passive voice, excess adverbs, or hard-to-read sentences.

Miss Spell’s Class
In a world of spell-check, auto-correct, and automated spelling prompts, many of us have a surprising amount of difficulty spelling simple words. In this rapid-fire game brought to you by Dictionary.com, you’ll need to determine whether or not a word is spelled correctly. Also, you can increase the difficulty of the words over time.

A good writer is a good reader. Get recommendations for books and write reviews on this social networking site for bookworms. A mobile app allows you to browse through your recommendations while at a library. Read more and write more!

Many of you might remember these diagrams from school, but some of you may not. By practicing sentence diagramming, you can understand many of the greater concepts of grammar. Use this app to place the words of a sentence in the diagram, labeling the subject, verb, prepositions, adverbs, and adjectives.

Grammar Girl App
Grammar Girl, otherwise know as Mignon Fogarty from Quick and Dirty Tips, produces a regular podcast with fast explanations, tips, and discussions regarding grammar. She often educates listeners about etymology, odd brand choices, and common practices. If you like her blog, definitely check out her podcast and her app!

There are a lot of applications out there that can help writers stay focused. What are your favorite apps? Let us know in the comments below.

Stephanie Nolan, an editor for Online Writing Jobs, is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Since college, she's both edited and written film scripts, press releases, fictional stories, and articles. After gaining professional experience with Public Relations, Human Resources, and Recruitment, she discovered OWJ. With her strong marketing background and love of the written word, she now found a great balance while working with online content.

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Posted in Fun Stuff, Writing Tips