I’m a little old-fashioned in that I enjoy reading things on paper rather than online. And if I find something I want to read again, I need to do more than Bookmark it – I can’t find anything in all the bookmarks I have. But it’s kind of a pain to copy and paste an article and then reformat it into a Word document, especially if there are ads built into the page.
Enter JoliPrint, a free website that clears out all but the article you want and formats it into a lovely PDF for download.
For example, I need to write a synopsis, something that I can’t say is a strength. So I pulled up Jane Lebak’s QTB piece, Taming the Dreaded Synopsis. I pasted the address for the article into JoliPrint, and voila! I have a beautifully formatted PDF to print!
You can also add JoliPrint to your blog or website (I just added it to the QTB, you should see a JoliPrint button at the end of this post) or install it in your browser toolbar. You can even have a “magazine” of your reading list delivered to your iPad, mobile, or computer.
We writers sometimes have to type the same thing over and over again, whether because an unwieldy phrase or name appears often in our manuscripts, or because we’re working hard on those letters to agents.
PhraseExpress is a free text expansion program that resides in your System tray. In addition to learning and correcting spelling errors in any application you use (including email programs, which I find incredibly useful), the program will expand abbreviations as you type. For example, when I use my work email program, I can’t use italics (who knows why *grumble*), so I have to use CAPS to emphasize. I always worry that my students will misread this as nastiness on my part, so I set PhraseExpress to change #notyell into “I’m not yelling, I just can’t use italics in this email program.”
You can set PhraseExpress to quickly insert your author bio (you can even have several set up), your high-concept hook, your website or blog, your contact information, your signature, and other frequently-used phrases into your email queries.
One final use: I once wrote a novel in which the first 3 letters of any character’s name would expand to the full name – it sped up my typing when I was really in the zone and writing quickly.
Need to plan a time for your writing group to meet, but you can’t find a time everyone can meet? Try Doodle, a website that lets you pick potential meeting times and lets everyone weigh in on what would work for them.
I’ll say upfront that I’m a Pinterest newbie, but writers can do a lot with the site. You can save favorite quotes; create story planning and character boards filled with images of people, places, and things related to your story; and share your writing space and favorite tools. How do you use it? Feel free to share your Pinterest writing boards in the Comments!
What other free online tools do you use to make writing easier, more collaborative, more creative, and more fun? Let us know in the Comments!
Carolyn Kaufman, PsyD's book, THE WRITER'S GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGY: How to Write Accurately About Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment, and Human Behavior helps writers avoid common misconceptions and inaccuracies and "get the psych right" in their stories. You can learn more about The Writer's Guide to Psychology, check out Dr. K's blog on Psychology Today, or follow her on Facebook or Google+!