Last year, I found a writing app I’d never heard of before. Upon trying it out (for like, a minute and a half), I knew this was it! This was the writing app I’d been waiting for! (More about the app to follow shortly.)
Anyhow, excited as I was, I promptly started jotting down some ideas on this shiny new app. These ideas soon started to take form, and before I knew it, it became a short essay of a sort. I was so over the moon that I decided to pitch it to the editor of one of my favorite online publications, whom I’ve never pitched to before because I was certain of my lacking skills.
Lo and behold, within the hour, I heard back from the editor, and my story was on their website the very next morning, next to writers I’ve looked up to all these years but never thought I could catch up to.
Yeah, I’m totally bragging, but more importantly, at that time, I felt as though maybe, finally, I was on my way to becoming a real writer. And it all started with this writing app - my new lucky charm!
That was last year, but, all brags aside, let me introduce you to le writing app - Reedsy.
Oh, and did I mention that it’s totally free?
No? Well, there you go. It’s FREE!
The Need for a Perfect Writing App
Let’s start with a bit of context.
A few years ago, when I first started blogging, I did it the traditional way —I started a WordPress blog—this blog. It’s all good. In fact, this blog is doing rather well. When it comes to writing and publishing new blog posts, I do it right here on the WordPress editor. The reason is that I’m terrible when it comes to organizing in the digital sphere.
Other writers talk about organizing folders by years and months, while I nod (or is it shake?) my head like a goldfish. Honestly, I’m perfectly happy with typing up my posts in the platform’s editor.
So, last year, when I decided to branch out and start writing for different publications, suddenly, I had a problem in my hands. Two problems, if I’m to be specific.
Writing, and then organizing.
Yeah, you guessed it. I needed a writing app!
The Writing Apps That Never Stood a Chance
Reedsy isn’t the first writing app I tried, and I don’t know why because it’s been around for a while.
Nobody told me about it, and even when I Googled it, for some reason, I glossed over this app and moved on to things that looked and sounded familiar.
Reedsy wasn’t familiar, but Ulysses was. And as it turned out, Ulysses wasn’t meant for us basic bitches who use Windows PCs. With my resentment renewed towards all things Mac, I turned to the most Windows-y writing app there is — Microsoft Word.
It’s impossible not to mention Microsoft Word when speaking of writing apps. Sure, it isn’t ideal, but it was the best I could think of. That is until I found better alternatives.
- It’s been the writing software of choice for years for a reason; it has everything you need to write whatever you’re writing—a book, an article, a resume, a scientific report, and more.
- You can save a Microsoft Word document on your OneDrive account and easily access them on multiple devices as long as you have MS Word and OneDrive installed on your devices.
- Grammarly integration makes writing and simple editing easy.
- MS Word has everything you need with way too many options. Sometimes having too many options can seem more like a nuisance than something useful. As someone who writes essays, articles, and blog posts, I was hoping for a simple platform with just the basic editing options.
- While it is possible to make an MS Word document look exactly how you want it to look like, I wanted something that’d come pretty out of the box. MS Word ain’t that.
- Sure, you can access documents on multiple devices with OneDrive and MS Word, but much of this ease is dependent on the device itself. I, for example, use a Google Pixelbook (Chromebook) for many of my writing-related tasks, and getting MS Word on a Chromebook can be a pain. Also, the look and feel of MS Word on a Windows device are different from a Chromebook.
So, yeah, as much as I wanted to love Word, I knew something better had to be out there.
OneNote was almost perfect until it wasn’t.
- The capability of creating notebooks, sections, and pages within the app. This was neat because I figured I could create different notebooks for different years, and then use different “sections” for different publications, and then use the “page” feature inside sections for each new article. In short, I loved the organizational capabilities of this software.
But that’s about it.
- No Grammarly integration. I mean, they did it with MS Word, so why not OneNote? It makes zero sense to me. Some writers don’t give a shit, but I do. I’ve got to have my Grammarly!
- Clunky platform. The user interface is annoying, and the user experience is non-existent.
- Did I say how annoying it is?
Angry, frustrated, and almost defeated, I turned to the next app — Scrivner.
One word —UGLY.
Yes, I want my writing app to look GORGEOUS so that every time I open it, it makes me want to type! Scrivener did the exact opposite, so no! It took me a grand total of three and a half minutes to install and uninstall that app. I didn’t even bother to give it a test run because what’s the point? It’s UGLY!
My next attempt at finding the perfect writing app took me to this beautiful app called iA Writer. It had similar organizational capabilities as OneNote, but the interface was way, way better!
I really wanted to love this app but didn’t for the following reasons:
- The formatting functionalities were limited. Some may find this useful or even attractive, but I like it when things are pretty. Big headers, smaller subheaders, formatted quotations, you get the gist. iA Writer got rid of most of those in the spirit of minimalism, which I can appreciate. But it was just a tad too minimalist for my tastes. Writing in markdown isn’t really my thing.
- No Grammarly integration. That one killed it for me.
Evernote is great for saving clips and notes but I find the platform clunky for writing long-form articles. The default writing and editing sections are, again, not pretty enough. This makes me think that Evernote was never designed for writers in the first place. A writing app should never have a sans-serif font as its default font. I mean, even the WordPress editor is better than the Evernote editor (at least on the classic editor that I’m still using, ditching all Gutenberg features.) So no, However much people love Evernote, I knew this wasn’t the writing app for me.
Some Pretty Good Writing Apps that Fell Just a Tad Short of Expectations
The following writing apps almost made the cut, that is, until I found Reedsy. Let’s take a look at why I liked them, but still fell short of my expectations.
It’s OK, but the writing interface is still not the best. The default font is Arial (why???) and the font size is only 11 points. This makes me squint my eyes. It’s a nuisance to have to change the font and font-size every time I start a new document. So, no, thank you!
That said, I like that I can access the docs from any device as long as I’m signed onto my Google account, and Google Drive has fantastic organizational capabilities. I use it a lot to share drafts with professors and editors, but aside from copy-pasting articles or essays, or writing short reports for a class or something, I don’t like to write on it for an extended period of time.
Penzu was great and almost perfect until I found Reedsy. In fact, I still use Penzu for some of my projects and it’s great! But Reedsy interface is just a tad better.
I liked that you could create multiple “journals” on Penzu (journals are like folders), and then create “journal entries” (each entry can be an essay or a blog post) within a journal. Penzu offers just the right amount of editing capabilities (all the basics you need to write an article or essay or a blog post) and the default font is a beautiful, readable, serif font.
It fell short of Reedsy on these fronts:
- Some Penzu features that I needed were available only to paid members. I did sign up for a paid, pro membership, which, thankfully, is quite affordable, but Reedsy’s free account still beat Penzu’s paid one.
- As great as the writing interface is, I found Reedsy’s better. Especially when it comes to that “em” dash! Honestly, I use the “em” dash a bit too much, so prefer a writing app that can convert two single dashes into an “em” dash automatically. Penzu’s doesn’t, and Reedsy’s does! (Give me a writing app that converts double-dashes to “em” dashes automatically, and I’m sold! Haah!)
I tried out Notion after one reader pointed it out to me on the original post (this is a revised version!) After trying it out, I had to mention it here because in and of itself Notion is great, and it’s also free. But yet, I don’t like using it as my primary writing app. Reedsy still beats it in terms of aesthetics. For me at least. That said, I’m now an avid Notion user. Only, I don’t use it for writing, but it makes for a great platform to organize my outlines and thoughts.
I use Grammarly all the time but it was only recently that I tried writing on the app itself.
Grammarly’s native writing app is surprisingly good! Even though it uses a sans-serif font as its default font, it’s still a really good, readable font in a big font size that’s easy on the eyes. The editing options are perfect too! Not too many, but with all the usual bells and whistles you may need for your blog posts or essays. It also saves everything on its server, making it easily accessible from any device as long as you’re connected to the internet.
The only reason I couldn’t love it is its lack of organizational capabilities. Everything you write is shown as a card on the main Grammarly dashboard, taking up too much time. And you cannot save work under different folders — no nested organization, so, in the end, no good for power writers.
This is yet another decent writing app. Jotterpad has some pretty good features — cloud syncing with Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, etc., ability to create folders and subfolders, multi-device access, and more. But in the end, the default writing area loses out to Reedsy’s.
So, given that I have tried so many different writing apps, when I recommend the following app, you better believe me that it is indeed the best I have found! And no, I’m not trying to sell anything with my recommendation — not on this blog post 😉
As I said, Reedsy is free to use; you don’t have to buy anything (not yet, at least! And let’s hope it stays that way…) I really just love the app. And in the rest of this blog post, I’ll try to make my case for why I fell in love with it.
So, This is My Favorite Writing App
While I was testing all these apps, I was also starting to realize exactly the kind of app I was looking for — something I didn’t know when the search first commenced.
I realized that I needed:
- A good-looking writing interface with an awesome font, font size, line height, line width, etc. by default (the lack of which was the reason I didn’t settle for Google Doc, or Evernote).
- Grammarly integration.
- Good formatting options. Not too many (unlike OneNote or MS Word where there are way too many options), but just enough, such as the options to easily add titles, headers, subheaders, quotes, lists, etc. (think: the Medium writing/editing interface.)
- Better organizational capability within the app itself. I write for multiple outlets, so it’s important for me to keep things organized.
- An online app that I can access on multiple devices — my Windows laptop-turned-desktop at home, and my Google Pixelbook (Chromebook) that I carry with me when I work from libraries, parks, and coffee shops.
Given all that, turns out this one writing app checks all the required boxes I mentioned above:
Reedsy was made for book writers, but don’t be fooled by the terminology! Even for someone like me who writes blog posts and articles and essays, Reedsy is perfect! And in the next section, I’ll show you exactly why that is.
What is Reedsy and How It Works
It is currently my ideal writing app. It has all the qualities I was looking for. Let’s go over them one at a time.
Ease of use
This is a web-based app, and it stores everything you write on its server. Because it is a web-based app, you can use it on any machine with any operating system. This is exactly what I had hoped to find on my ideal writing app, and Reedsy delivered.
Very fancy looking
I love a good-looking writing interface. It motivates me to keep writing.
The left sidebar is where you have all your parts and chapters (for book writers; as a blogger/freelancer, you can use the same features for organizing your articles by date or publication or genre, whatever have you.)
The right panel is where you have the tools. You can add images or endnotes from here, split a chapter, find and replace words, etc. In short, some very handy features without the clutter.
Easy formatting capabilities
Much like on Medium, you can select a part of the text to open up the formatting options. As you can see in the image above, you have the usual options — different headers, bold, italic, underscored texts, linking, inserting codes, inserting quotes, etc. In addition, you also have a couple more options for adding subscripts or superscripts, strikethrough text, and even comments (the platform allows you to collaborate with others.)
Not too much, but just enough. I like that you have three different header options, and the strikethrough text is a nice touch.
As I said before, the app was designed for book authors. So you have the ability to add different books, and then within a book, you can add parts and chapters.
Think of it this way:
If a “book” is your main folder, then a “part” is a sub-folder inside your main folder. And the “chapters” are individual files inside the sub-folders (see the image above.)
As a blogger and freelance writer, this is awesome because I can use these nested organizational capabilities however I see fit. I usually create a “book” for a certain genre (for example, I have a book called “Essays,” another book called “Flash-Fic.”) You can create books by dates if you like to organize your writing that way. The options are limitless!
Export and backup
I get it; you’re writing using an online app, which happens to be free. What if something happened? What if you lost all your work?
Well, fear not, because Reedsy allows you to export your work in multiple formats. As a blogger and freelance writer, I like that I can easily export my “books” as PDF documents and/or .docx format that I can easily edit in MS Word. This way, I can save a copy of my work on my computer, or in an external storage/cloud storage of choice.
Additionally, if you’re writing an actual book, you can export it as a .epub or .mobi file type.
Pretty neat, yea?
Here, I made a video showing you how I use Reedsy to organize my writing; check it out!
Maybe you already have an app you love. Maybe it’s Ulysses, who knows?! Not that I could ever verify the superiority of one over the other, not unless I plan on moving over to the Mac-verse. And that is precisely why I won’t!
Reedsy, on the other hand, can be used by anyone, on any device, with any OS. Now that’s freedom, and as a blogger and an up-and-coming freelance writer (maybe…), freedom is of utmost importance to me. So is the ability to organize, use Grammarly, and write on a pretty interface. Reedsy delivers, and as long as it does, I’m sticking with it.
And I love that it’s totally free!
So, do you have a favorite writing app? Which one? Don’t tell me it’s Ulysses! OK, sure, go ahead and tell me it is Ulysses, but whateva! Why do you like it and what’s unique about it? Let me know in the comments!
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