When you need to write, the blank empty screen in front of you can be very hard to fill. Personally, the last thing I need when trying to find some words is the kind of clutter that comes with many word processors. If you’re the same, then you should check out this list of minimalist writing environments.
1) Draft (Online; freemium)
Although still relatively unknown, Draft has been providing a great suite of online writing tools for a couple of years now. It is based on Markdown, but there are keyboard shortcuts which provide the syntax for you. You also get auto-saving, backed up versions of each document, and very fine collaboration options for writing with colleagues.
2) Scrivener (OSX; normally $45, currently on sale for $20 (55% off) at StackSocial)
Some people might be surprised to see Scrivener on this list, given the huge number of pro-quality features it brings — storyboarding, an outliner, a corkboard for ideas, multiple versions, and so on. However, when you want to get down to the business of pure writing, it has a full screen mode that’s as distraction-free as any, which is no doubt why so many novelists use it.
P.S. We currently have 55% off Scrivener, bringing it down to $20, but only until Sunday — check out the deal here.
3) Google Drive (Online; free) Google’s online offering looks like a standard word processor, but it makes it onto this list for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Drive is simple to navigate and not filled with options you don’t need; secondly, it has a very nice fullscreen mode. Plus, any document you create in Drive is saved without eating into your free Google storage.
4) Byword (OSX and iOS; $4.99/$9.99)
5) WriteMonkey (Windows; free)
6) Writebox (Online/Chrome, iOS and Android; free/$1.99/$2)
I’ve grouped these ultra-minimal writing apps together because they all provide a similarly streamlined place to write. All are based on Markdown, but once again, keyboard shortcuts are provided, as are multiple display and export options. If you need Word-like formatting, these apps won’t do the job — but they provide the ultimate in distraction-less writing.
7) WriteRoom (OSX; $9.99) Finally, there’s WriteRoom. If you like the clean aesthetics and full-screen writing of the Markdown text editors, but need formatting flexibility, this app from Hog Bay Software combines the two beautifully. It has been around a long time, and it is, perhaps, the only OSX app to deliver this combination convincingly.
Let us know your favorite in the comments below.