Best Writing Software for New Writers

Ollie Ander
Is probably just a couple cats in a trench-coat—the hair shedding and sunlight napping are highly suspect.
Every writer writes differently, but when you’re just starting out, it’s hard to know what kind of writer you are. In the name of self-discovery, let me present you with some writing programs to fit every type of writer.
We also have recommendations for the $ best free writing software$ , if that's more your speed.


Here are the run-of-the-mill programs you'll likely use at some point.

The Base: Microsoft Word

Even if I don’t recommend $ Microsoft Word$  over its competitors, I do need to recognize it as the simple writing software of generations past. Microsoft Word is the OG writing software that many of us grew up using; the program many writers learned how to type on. Microsoft Word gets version updates and will continue to evolve, but assuming it stays true to its nature, it will never be anything outside of a basic word processor—and that’s all some writers want! 
Microsoft Word does autosave, but to ensure that your progress is safe, you do need to actually hit the floppy drive button. If you are forgetful or your setup is prone to crashes, there is the potential chance of loss.
Microsoft Word (online only) is free, but since Microsoft Word’s introduction and standardization among the writing community, new generation Microsoft Office products have switched to a subscription-based payment method. Its full Word program is $6.99/month, which is admittedly steep for anyone treating writing as a hobby and not a full-time job.
The free, open source alternative to the Microsoft Office is $ LibreOffice$ .
If all you need to do is type, this could be the program for you, as it has been for millions of other writers—you know, before the internet. That said, a more accessible and equally simple (and free) alternative is up next!

Keep it Simple: Google Docs

$ Google Docs$  might be the modern standard for writing. It’s essentially Microsoft Word but with inherent internet accessibility, adding fluid peer sharing options (in-time suggestions/editing through accounts with access to the doc) and more comprehensive spell check through plugins (like Grammarly or ProWritingAid).
Google Docs has everything Microsoft Word does, and you can access it for free through any Gmail account (which is also free to make).
Some writers are concerned about writing on Google Docs, as Google isn't quite known for respecting their users' private data. With the rise in AI-written novels, some users worry that their creative work could be stolen to teach Artificial Intelligence.
Google Docs is first and foremost a browser app, so you can use it on any OS using said browser, but you can also hit the "make available offline" option on a document to make it accessible without constant internet connectivity. Google Docs always autosaves, even when you’re off in nature. It’s a great expense free option for beginning writers.


If you lack concentration, as many new writers do, you might try one of these solutions.

Fewer Distractions: Calmly Writer

If Google Docs sounds good to you but also seems like it still has a few too many tempting distractions, your best bet might be $ Calmly Writer$ . Calmly Writer is the modern take on NotePad: no frills, just words. The slogan on their main website page is simply "Stay focused on writing". Calmly Writer does not inherently block you from opening other tabs, browsing, or getting distracted—it’s just a pure and simple program whose goal is to enable you to write, write, and hopefully write some more.
It even has type-writer sounds you can enable, so it feels like you’re an old-time novelist, sitting at your antique secretary desk, writing the next installment in your serialized British drama! You can access and write in Calmly Writer online for free, anytime, but to have an account and download the program, it is a pay-once license ($15 USD) that supports up to three devices. It has Windows, Mac, Chromebook, and more OS download options.

NO Distractions: Cold Turkey/Cold Turkey Writer

A lot of writers don’t need simple software so much as they need to minimize potential distractions. It’s not the program, it’s you (no judgment, the internet is the best and worst thing that’s happened to writerkind). If your main strength in writing is linked to sprints and you tend to waste your time falling down research rabbit-holes, $ Cold Turkey$  is going to be your best friend! With Cold Turkey, you can moderate and block yourself from using specified websites or apps once activated. Cold Turkey Lifetime Access is a one-time payment of $39 USD.
Cold Turkey Writer is an even more intense concentration tool, blocking users from their ENTIRE computer. Cold Turkey Writer's program provides a simple word processor and a digital prison—input the number of words or minutes you would like to write, and Cold Turkey will block you from every other function of your device until you have reached that goal. $ Cold Turkey Writer$  is a one-time fee of $9 USD.


If you're a writer who creates sprawling worlds, intricate plots, and weaving character arcs, here are some options to help you manage those bigger projects.

The Big Picture, Motivated: NovelPad

$ NovelPad$  is a jack of all trades that keeps you focused, organized, and on track. It’s got all the functions of the standard word processors, from spell checking to offline mode.
Here are just a few features that make NovelPad ideal for new writers:
Forget worrying about syncing your various save files, NovelPad keeps track of your older drafts (and edits) so you can reference back to them, down to the minute, long after you’ve moved on. They even save an unlimited number of revisions for each scene, keeping them safely tucked away if you ever want to revert to an earlier version.

 novelpad revisions
Novelpad has loads of tracking options. You can organize your story with scene cards (in an accessible drag-and-drop format), but you can even take things a step further! NovelPad has specific tabs to organize your chapters, plots, characters, and locations. Want to track a specific character or object throughout your novel? Assign it, step back to the outline, and get a bird's-eye-view of its journey through your project.
Last but not least, NovelPad has a Notes section where you can keep and organize all your story’s extra information into drop-downs that you can create and organize just how you like it, plus the ability to link any note to any other story element (including other notes).
As with all subscription-based writing softwares, it’s important that you try them out before purchasing, so you can get your no-commitment, no-credit-card free trial of NovelPad $ when you sign up!$ 

The Big Picture, Sprawling: Campfire

$ Campfire$  has modules designed to host specific types of extra information about your story. If you have a huge world to build and aspects to keep track of like maps, languages, religions, you name it, Campfire’s got you covered.
Campfire has three different payment options available. Instead of a free trial, Campfire is just free to use until a certain point: the first 25,000 words are free and many modules are available to use (with limitations). If you only care about some modules and not others, here is a breakdown of every payment plan they have in relation to the access you get with each individual module:

campfire price breakdown
To make things simpler for you, here’s what it comes down to: The monthly unlimited subscription is $19, the annual subscription costs $160 (saving you $68 from the monthly plan), or you can bite the bullet and do a one-time Lifetime purchase of $420.

The Big Picture, Clustered: Milanote

Personally I lean toward "simple is better" advice for new writers, but I also understand that everyone's brain works differently. Writing software shouldn't be stigmatized based on some puritan ideal of what a writer’s process "should look like", so I would tentatively recommend $ Milanote$ .
Unlike the last two options where your novel’s world-building data is pre-organized and hidden away until you need to draw upon it, Milanote is a software that caters to writers that derive their inspiration through mood boards. Although it is not streamlined for writing specifically, it is an ideal workspace for thinkers that need visuals, as it allows you to organize and interact with multi-media sources, all in one space. Think of it like a corkboard you can write on. If you’re a writer new and just starting out, sometimes you need to keep your inspirations at the forefront to maintain your workflow.
Milanote has a free option that is limited to 100 notes (images or links), 10 file uploads, and unlimited shared boards. The unlimited subscription for an individual is only $10 a month if you do an annual plan, and $12.50 if you want to take it month-by-month.
If you'd like a free version of this, $ Canva's$  whiteboard serves the same function!$ $ 
I hope that one or more of these writing softwares piqued your interest. Like I mentioned at the start, when you’re a new writer, it’s hard to know what word processor will help streamline your writing process, so make sure you try out as many as you can before committing.
Once you’ve found your preferred writing software, a great next step is to learn about outlining techniques. Here’s an overview of all the $ most popular novel outlines$  to help you get writing fast and efficiently!
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