We love technology at ProWritingAid and how it helps writers improve. Over the past few months, we’ve been checking out some of the best writing technology out there. Check out these other posts:
- Writing App Reviews…The Novel Factory
- Writing App Reviews…ILYS
- Writing App Reviews…Scrivener
- Writing App Reviews…Ulysses
This month we are checking out a writing productivity app called Rough Draft.
Get Out of Editing Mode
Some writers still like to write their thoughts down on paper. There’s something about the physical act of writing by hand that connects our brains better with the words on the page.
In contrast, when we see words on the screen, it’s much easier to let our minds drift into editing mode. It’s so simple to backspace or double click on something and make changes right away.
But that can break your flow, take you out of the moment, and allow your left brain take over from your more creative right brain.
Personally, I can’t write by hand anymore. Years of keyboards and little to no handwriting has made my script illegible. If I sat down with pen and notebook, I wouldn’t be able to transcribe what I wrote at the end of the day. It would just look like doctor’s notes.
Perhaps that’s why programs such as Rough Draft appeal to me. It’s like the old days on a typewriter when you couldn’t backspace and fix your words. You couldn’t be editing while you typed. You could only focus on getting the words down on paper so you could edit later.
Let’s look more closely at Rough Draft to give you an idea of its power and functionality.
Rough Draft is not a text editor. It’s more of a free-from-editing productivity tool to help you focus on getting the words down. You can backspace, but Rough Draft will strikethrough what you backspace over instead of deleting it. This reminds you, each and every time, that you’re writing a Rough Draft, not the finished product.
Here’s what a new, fresh page on Rough Draft looks like as you get started:
It’s a blank page without a lot of options and absolutely no editing tools. When you start typing, everything on the page fades away, so it’s only you and your words.
You have the option to change up the screen by changing fonts, and there’s even a dark screen mode that turns the background black and the words white, almost as if your words were hanging in midair as you type.
Here’s what a Rough Draft screen would look like with typos and strikethroughs in Dark Screen mode:
On the right-hand side of the screen are the settings. There aren’t many options because the focus is on your writing, not the way it looks. That comes later after you export your work into a text editing program.
Organizing Your Work
Rough Draft keeps all of your work in folders in the app. You can create new folders or use the preset folders already set up in the app. Here’s what the folders screen looks like to help you manage your work.
Sometimes when I’m writing, I’ll have an inspirational thought about something that I need to include in a previous chapter. Rather than take your attention away from the page, Rough Draft allows you to add a note to your content. Here’s what that looks like:
And another fantastic feature is the placeholders. If you’re working on a blog post and you know you want to find an image to go along with your content, you can add a placeholder right there in your text that will remind you to find the image later.
That way the idea doesn’t distract you during your writing, but you don’t lose it either. You can add placeholders for images, videos, charts, and quotes. Here’s what placeholders look like in your text:
Notice at the bottom of the above screen shot, there are 5 icons. These are how you add the different placeholders.
When You’re Done Writing
Your writing in Rough Draft shows all of your typos, backspaces (strikethroughs), and every ugly wart and blemish from your typing. Now it’s time to export your work into an editing program to make it pretty.
You have four options when you are ready to move into editing mode:
- you can export it as an RTF file;
- copy the entire thing onto your computer’s clipboard;
- email it to yourself; or
- print it out.
ProWritingAid free users can copy and paste their text into the online editing tool and edit there.
ProWritingAid Premium users can:
- open, edit and save the RTF file in the ProWritingAid desktop version;
- open the RTF version with MS Word and use the MS Word ProWritingAid add-on;
- open Google Docs and use the Google Docs ProWritingAid Add-ons; or
- copy and paste the text into the online editor.
Or if you own the premium version of Rough Draft, you can export directly into Medium and get your work published online.
Rough Draft is available on Mac and iOS devices and you can download it to your laptop, iPhone, and iPad, and it syncs between them. You get great portability by being able to work on your novel or blog posts from anywhere and on any of your iOS devices.
Finally, it’s free from the iTunes store, but there’s a small catch. The free version doesn’t allow you to download a “clean” export of your work. When you purchase the premium app, Rough Draft gives you the option of cleaning up your strikethroughs and exporting that version to an editing program. The premium version means less time in editing because Rough Draft “cleans” it up for you.
Give Rough Draft a try, and let us know in the comments what you think. We love hearing your thoughts on these programs we profile for you.
If you enjoyed this post about writing a novel, you might also enjoy these articles from our archive:
- How to Construct a 3D Main Character
- Are You Ready to Draft Your Story Arc?
- How to Create Your Story’s World
- How to Create a Compelling Character Arc
- Are You Ready to Draft Your Plot?
- 4 Plot Pitfalls You Need to Avoid
- Map Out Your Character’s Transformation Using the 9 Enneagram “Levels of Development”
- The Four Drafts Your Novel Needs (and Why You Probably Won't Use a Single Word of Your First Draft!)