Four Writing Tools to Make Writers More Productive

February 13, 2012 | Writing Tools, Online Writing Tools | 3 comments

I love writing and productivity tools! Doesn’t matter if they are for the actual writing or the business of writing. I love discovering good ones, and I have four great ones for you today.

Writing Tools for Taxes

Mileage Bug – It’s tax time at the Devoti house, which means time for the DH to start fussing at me. Totally unfair fussing, of course. Can I help it that his mind doesn’t work like mine (aka right)?writing tools taxes writers

One of our annual pains is mileage. I try to keep track with a notepad, but inevitably the notepad gets lost, or I forget to write down one trip or another, and then we can’t claim the mileage. It is just a big old hassle.

This year though we are starting out right with an app for my smartphone, Milebug. This app lets you keep track of your start and stop odometer readings, say what the trip is for, and plug in trip-related expenses. It even has a GPS option on it if you don’t want to have to enter the ending mileage yourself.  $2.99

Writing Tools for Taxes #2 – Again with the taxes. (sigh) I save receipts in manila envelopes, keep multiple spreadsheets-breaking out my various income streams, use one “business” credit card, and STILL come tax time, the fussing begins. is an online accounting program that allows you to enter expenses, income, send invoices and run reports. There is supposed to also be some interconnectivity with PayPal, although I haven’t discovered that yet. is especially nice for me because in addition to my writing and teaching, I also do ebook formatting. Kashoo lets me enter an invoice and send it from the program as soon as I am done with the job. This eliminates the risk of me forgetting that job and never getting paid. (Emails get lost, etc.)

It is also easy to use. I had one small learning bump, but it really was small. And, since getting over that, I have had no problems at all. $99 a year or $9.99 a month. One month free trial.

Writing Tools for Productivity

CKZ Time Clock –  Now you may be thinking, “I’m my own employee. Why do I need a timeclock?”

I use CKZ Time Clock for two purposes. One is to keep track of my writing time. No, I don’t get paid by the hour for writing, but it keeps me honest. I’d tried various timers in the past and found them all annoying. The computer ones didn’t really work, and the kitchen timers made this annoying ticking sound—like I need another distraction. With CKZ Time Clock, I just set up an employee with the name “Writing Time,” and clock in and out. It keeps track of my time, creates reports and even lets me set the rounding from 0 to 15 minutes or whatever. You can also assign a $ value/hourly wage which might just be an extra motivator!

The other purpose for me with CKZ Time Clock is keeping track of my time when I am billing an ebook formatting client by the hour (or other consulting). Before this I was writing down a time, then having to remember to write down the ending time, then subtracting and multiplying by the hourly wage, blah, blah, blah. CKZ does this all for me. And for what I need—it’s free!

Writing Tools for Writing

Writer’s Café – I discovered Writer’s Café last year when I was working on an article on plotting software for writers for the RWR (Romance Writers Report/RWA magazine). I had never heard of it, but I had (before meeting Writer’s Café) been a bit of a plotting software slut. So, being all bold, I emailed the developers and asked for a trial copy to use for my article.

I was shocked at how much I liked/like this program. I really can’t recommend it enough. For plotters it has scene cards that you can spread out on a virtual corkboard (storylines). You can divide the corkboard by chapters or acts. You can put a summary on the card and write the actual scene on the card. You can move the cards around. If you have a scene you “think” you want to delete, but aren’t sure, you can save it in a pocket where it won’t be counted in statistics like word count. Then later you can, with a quick click, retrieve the card.

The program has places to keep track of characters and settings, keep a journal, and track word count. It will give you writing prompts and little notes of inspiration. It is so good and versatile that I recommended it to a friend who is nowhere near the plotter I am. She is more of an “inspired” writer, and she loves Writer’s Café as much as I do.

So whether you are a big time plotter or a big time pantser, I really recommend that you try this program out.

Also, there has been one update for this program since I’ve been using it and the process was seamless. I just hit update…and it worked! Like it should. There have been other programs I’ve tried that I can not say this about and I also can not say how frustrating that is!

Watch for an interview to come later this month with Harriet Smart, half of the team responsible for Writer’s Café. Harriet is the writer half of the team and her input is obvious when you use it. $40 Free trial.  (Windows/Mac/Linux/more)


  1. Faith Thomas

    I’ve also tried to keep track of my writing times. Many writers talk about tracking word count, but that doesn’t help if I am organizing, plotting, or just editing. Which is what I do 75% of the time.

    I just downloaded the time clock. I love it. It is so convenient right there on my desktop. I’ve tried to write times on a calendar, but that didn’t last long.

    Thanks for the link.

  2. Lori Devoti

    I’m a big believer that different things work for different people. In general I’m a word counter, but that can cause issues for me too when I get too anal about it. :)
    Good luck and I’m glad the time clock is working for you!

  3. Vincent Churchil

    How about Replicon timekeeping software? which is one of the best time tracking tool available.