Best free software for writing: 10 programs to unleash your creativity

Whether you want to write a short story or a full novel, these tools will help

Its word processor is called Writer, which has all of the basics covered so you have full control over the look of your documents. There are also useful writing tools such as autocorrect and a table of contents creator, further helping your writing process. Documents you create are fully compatible with the likes of Microsoft Word, too, so you can share files with others without worrying about how they will look.

6. WriteMonkey

There are all sorts of distractions that can get in the way of writing. While interruptions from friends and family can't really be avoided, there are plenty of on-screen diversions that you can banish. WriteMonkey is a word processor that has been designed with the serious writer in mind. The interface is stripped back and basic so you can concentrate on the one thing that matters – writing.

It might not be much to look at, but WriteMonkey will help you write productively.

Don't be fooled by the sparse-looking interface, WriteMonkey is far from being devoid of features. Right click a blank area of the screen and the context menu gives you access to all of the tools you could need, whilst hiding them away when you want to remain distraction-free.

7. RapidTyping Tutor

The faster and more accurately you can type, the less time you will need to spend writing – or the more time you will have for writing, depending on how you look at things. As with so many things in life, practice makes perfect, and RapidTyping Tutor guides you through how to use the keyboard correctly, and uses a series of lessons to help you increase your speed.

RapidTyping Tutor
Stick with your lessons and you'll speed up your typing in no time.

This is an instantly accessible tool which is fun to use and brings genuine results. You can track your progress in the program so you can keep an eye on how much you improve.

8. GanttProject

When you're writing for other people, you need to think about deadlines, and GanttProject can help you keep on top of them. It is particularly useful if you are working on more than one writing job at the same time, as it helps to eliminate confusion.

GanttProject helps you to manage your time and focus on your writing.

It's an excellent project management tool that works equally well if you are working alone, or if you are collaborating with others. You can set deadlines and goals, break a large project up into smaller chunks, and easily keep an eye on the progress that's being made. It's a great way to effectively manage your time.

9. PagePlus

For those writing projects where you need more page layout control than you'll find in a regular word processor – but don't need the advanced features of the likes of Scribus – PagePlus fits the bill perfectly.

From posters to newsletters, PagePlus can create all the documents you need.

This desktop publishing tool is great for putting together newsletters, booklets and other documents that are a little different to the norm. There are all manner of templates readymade for you to work with so you don't have to spend time fiddling with too many settings. Like other Serif titles, PagePlus is incredibly simple to use, but this does not mean that it isn't highly powerful and versatile.

10. SimpleOCR

While the majority of your writing is likely to be penned by your own hand, there may well be times when you need to repurpose content from other sources. Rather than typing passages out by hand, you can use SimpleOCR to convert printed words into editable text.

Forget retyping documents and notes by hands – convert them with SimpeOCR.

As well as being useful for quoting lengthy passages from books, the program will also come in handy if you have a printout of a file but have lost the electronic version. The software is free, but you also get a two-week trial of a handwriting conversion component that can be used to make handwritten notes editable.