With term paper deadlines looming as finals week fast approaches, the pressure to perform is beginning to mount. Fortunately, the web is full of tools that can help you churn out stellar essay after stellar essay.

Whatever your malady is, be it writer’s block or something I like to call “grammaritis,” you’re bound to find a remedy somewhere in our list of online writing apps.

Related: 5 Quick Tips for Writing Better Papers

Write or Die

Sometimes you just need encouragement to get the paper done. Other times, punishment is the way to go. With Write or Die, you get a little bit of both. Sure, you’ll be encouraged to meet your word count goal, but only because a most unpleasant sound awaits you if you stop writing.

For a dose of cruel and unusual punishment, crank it up to “Kamikaze Mode” and you’ll see your words evaporate off the screen should you get off task. If that’s not hardcore enough, you can use desktop version to toggle full-screen and disable backspaces for a stream-of-consciousness marathon.

Imagination Prompt

Everyone is prone to the occasional bout of writer’s block, which is why everyone should hit up the Imagination Prompt. With the click of a button, a poignant question or fill-in-the-blank statement pops up on-screen to help jog memories and get the creative juices flowing.

From the vague “Why did you do it?” to the nostalgic “What’s the oldest book you’ve ever read?” this engine of ideas is sure to come in handy the next time you struggle to settle on a topic for a personal narrative or journal entry in your composition course.


If your professor is a stickler for fresh and original word choice, consider feeding your rough drafts through WordCounter. More than just a raw word counter, as its name misleadingly suggests, this tool spits out the most overused language by arranging words in order of their usage frequency.

You can also tweak the criteria that WordCounter uses to evaluate redundancies so that small words like “the” and “it” get excluded from the list entirely. A nifty beta functionality is currently in the works, whereby words of different verb tense but identical roots get tallied on the same count (“helps” and “helped” = two counts of “help”).

Cliché Finder

Outdated expressions and satiated figures of speech have become so ingrained in day-to-day language that they frequently seep into our writing and dilute the originality of our thoughts. Or, as George Orwell once wrote, “Prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.”

Cliché Finder helps you cut out the filler by highlighting the most hackneyed phrases in your paper. A number of clichés slip through the cracks (like that one) since its database is fairly limited, but any effort in the fight against banality is a noble one.

RelatedClearing Up These Commonly Confused Words


Let’s face it, Word was never destined to serve as your trustworthy proofreader. Sure, its red squiggly lines  have saved many a writer from the embarrassment of misspelling tricky words like embarrassment, but its blue squigglies have never lived up to their purpose of catching grammatical missteps.

Enter Grammarly, the Internet’s favorite syntax specialist. Crosschecking your draft with its exhaustive database of 250-plus grammatical rules, this tool hones in on precisely where your prose deviates from the accepted and arbitrary-arrived-at standards of the infuriating English language.

Although nothing quite beats the opportunity to pass hard copy onto a fresh pair of eyes well-versed in the nuances of sentence structure, Grammarly has won over the hearts – and credit cards – of over 3 million users who have deemed its steep monthly rates (upwards of $37.95/month) worthy of coughing up the cash. If you’re like me, though, just wait to use your 7-day free trial until finals week pops up.

Bare-Bones Word Processors

We may never entirely eliminate online distractions. In much the same way, we may never pound procrastination into submission. But bare-bones writing pads like FocusWriter and WriteRoom give us a fighting chance.

This type of freeware provide full-screen, no-frills canvases to help you block out time-sucking apps and immerse yourself in the act of writing. They’re essentially digital typewriters – in fact, many of these distraction-free writing pads boast typewriter sound effects, so you get that satisfying feedback in the pound of the keys without the hassle of messy ink ribbons.

If you’re using a public computer, head on over to DarkCopy for an in-browser experience. Otherwise, plenty of downloadable clients abound, from the zenlike Ommwriter, to the iPad-optimized iA Writer.

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