3 Book Writing Tools Every First-Time Author Should Use

Writing a book is not an easy task, but it can be if you have the help of writing tools. If you plan on being an author anytime in the near future, then you’ll need a little help and that can come in the form of writing tools. Trust me, it will save you time and energy later on in the process. Having a detailed outline for your ideas is a MUST!

In my last post, So You Want To Write a Book? Here’s Some Advice Before You Do, I shared some preliminary steps you need to take if you desire to write a book. Research is key and if you do nothing else, please ensure you get this completed before you deep dive into writing. Here is my FREE Author Research Workbook to get you started. Becoming an author is starting a business and automatically makes you an entrepreneur whether you like it or not so the faster you embrace this the better for you.

Now that we have this out of the way, let’s get to the planning tools. I’m very fond of using technology to make writers and storytellers more organized and productive. There is no right way to write a book, just your way, so if at this time you don’t know exactly what it is you want to write about, continue reading. By the time you’re finished with this post, you’ll have a few choices that just may be the key to opening up your creative lines.

Here goes:

Mind Mapping (cost varies depending on the app)

My absolute fav technique! Ever heard of it? If you haven’t, here’s the breakdown.

Mind mapping is a diagram used to visually organize information (Wikipedia). Lifehacker describes it as “one of the best ways to capture your thoughts and bring them to life in visual form. Beyond just note-taking, though, mind maps can help you become more creative, remember more, and solve problems more effectively.”



Mind mapping has been in existence for over 25 years. I’ve used it for everything from planning a vacation to etching out my first book. I went even further to create my own system for developing any kind of book with four focus areas: Writing, Pricing, Publishing, and Promoting, which I currently use with my clients. The thing I really like about mind maps is that you can get as creative as you like. If you are drawing by hand, you can add illustrations and stickers. If you use the apps instead, then you have more latitude for creating and importing photos, links, and documents.

What I especially love about this technique is you can be as vague or as detailed as you like. You can even enter start dates and deadlines for each of your chapters, helping you keep your writing on a schedule. I start with the title of the book as the main topic bubble, then map out the chapters, book parts, legal, research, etc (as individual connects to title), then add details as necessary to each of these. Before long, I have an entire map of information that I can sift through topic by topic to build out my book. Very efficient!

Links to my favorite mind mapping apps – iThoughts (only available to Apple users) and Mindmeister

Trello App (includes free and paid version)

This is another amazing tool I started using some time ago. My project management brain was happy to have discovered it because it’s like creating storyboards for your book chapters. This is how the official app describes it: boards, lists, and cards enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a fun, flexible and rewarding way. Kind of like using index cards and sticky notes to capture your ideas.

It’s very fun, visual and can be used with a team of people, making collaboration on a project seamless. Create new lists and cards, and delete the ones you don’t need; drag and drop cards to reorder priorities; capture pdfs, pictures, documents, presentations, spreadsheets, lists, and web links from your hard drive and cloud-based programs like Google Drive. You can even integrate a calendar to stay on track with your deliverables.

Best of all, Trello syncs to all your devices and can be used in tandem with your mindmaps – download the pdf to your computer, then upload into Trello. Below I took a screenshot of an example of how I use the app to create my writing topics with the calendar.

Trello captured.png

Scrivener (paid app with free trial)

Typewriter. Ring-binder. Scrapbook. Scrivener is the go-to app for writers of all kinds. Scrivener won’t tell you how to write—it simply provides everything you need to start writing and keep writing. (from Literature & Latte) 

It’s essentially a word processor and project management tool for writers of long texts. I’ve never personally used Scrivener, but I’ve heard only great things from those who have. Features include: instantly switch between editing your manuscript between sections and view as a whole; import all sorts of files into your Scrivener projects; includes a corkboard similar to Trello; includes a very powerful outliner to help you map out your chapters and formatting your book in different styles is easier.

Here is a screenshot from Literature & Latte


As a writer, it is extremely important to use writing tools to help you succeed. If you’re old school, then pen and paper still count as important, but if you’ve embraced technology in a major way, then you’ll love the three tools I listed above.

Regardless of what your writing needs are, you should always choose a tool(s) that you’re comfortable with. It enhances your writing because you do the brunt of the planning work beforehand, and this work becomes the guide to building out your story.

Hope these are helpful and you at least try them out to see which one is a great fit for you. If you’re looking to get into more mind mapping as a tool for just about planning anything, check out my Roadmap To Your First Book course that teaches you how to write, price, publish and promote your book using mind maps.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!