The bare minimum tools required for writing are essentially very few. Pen and paper is still a great way to compose stories. Any computer has a software to write words, as does every smartphone.

Even so, there are tools that make certain things a lot easier, and in the end, save a lot of time, which will equate to better and faster writing.

Here are the top ones for me. I use them all daily, except for the last one, which is in heavy use when a book is about to go public.


Scrivener is where I do most of my writing. It's been around for some time already, and there are murmurs that it could be better and soon replaced by a better application. Still, it's the best tool I've found for composing long works.

What makes it unique? What I like most in Scrivener is the "Binder", which in a sense is a simple folder structure of nested bits of text that together compose the novel. Each bit of text, usually a scene, can be thrown around easily, and can even include labels for e.g. points of view. Scrivener also separates content from layout, so I don't need to worry about what the final output will look like, and I can focus on creating the best content. (Scrivener also imports to almost any imaginable format, including epub and mobi for publishing.)

What does it cost? One time $45 for Mac. PC and mobile versions available too.


I've been using Dynalist only for a while now, as a previous user of Wrokflowy, a very similar software, which allows me to do lists and outlines.

What makes it unique? Its simplicity is deceiving. I use it to arrange everything in my life that is not transient like task management (where Todoist is my favorite). I use it to store my priorities, checklists, dreams, and pretty much every important note I want to save. It's great for writing short drafts – in fact I'm drafting this post in Dynalist – but also for sketching outlines and organising work such e.g. book marketing activities. The only drawback for now is the lack of a mobile app, but apparently, that's about to change soon.

What does it cost? The basic version is free, a few extra features with $3.99/month

Dictionary app

This is the default Mac Dictionary app – easily accessed anywhere (e.g. while writing in Scrivener) by cmd+space and writing dict.

What makes it unique? To me it's the speed for looking up a word, and finding synonyms from the English thesaurus. Sometimes though I click down the rabbit hole from one word to the next and end up somewhere that has nothing to do with what I was looking for. Even so, I often learn something new.

What does it cost? It's part of the Mac OS!

5000 WPH app

This one is a mobile app companion to Chris Fox's awesome book 5000 Words Per Hour.

What makes it unique? Reading 5000 WPH more than doubled my drafting speed. The idea in the book is surprisingly simple: plan what you are going to write, and write in sprints without stopping (I might write another post of writing speed). The app helps time and track the sprints. You get what you measure. Simple.

What does it cost? The app is free, and the book is a bargain at $2.99 at Amazon.


Finally, Vellum is my go-to-software for creating beautiful e-books.

What makes it unique? While you can create ebooks directly out of Scrivener, Vellum makes the process much easier, and with its readymade templates and customisation options makes the process easy, and the ebook flawless. Once you try it, there's no going back. I wish there was Vellum for print books – rumours say it's coming – as I did my print book as a conversion from the ebook(!)

What does it cost? One book's conversion (multiple edits) $29, ten conversions $99, or unlimited $199.

Anything else?

These are my real current go-to apps (and I'm not receivin any money for talkinga about them.) As apps and tools are, the landscape changes rapidly, and I can't guarantee the availability or pricing, but I do hope to update this list if my suite of apps changes.

What about you? Do you use the same ones, or is there something I should consider?