Three Free Cool Tools for Writers

For those of you who – like me – make your living with words, here are three free cool tools I use that have helped me as a writer and a thinker. I want my writing to be more clear and more direct, and these tools make it easier to get there. And all of these are my favorite price: FREE!

The Most Dangerous Writing App

I almost always struggle with Editing when I should be Writing. MDWA solves that eternal struggle in the most psychologically violent manner possible: if you stop writing for more than five seconds, it erases everything you’ve written.

Lemme tell you, with that kind of motivation, I can absolutely pound out the text when I am using MDWA.

(And it kinda sounds like a drug, doesn’t it?)

Hemingway

If you love words, it’s tempting to get addicted to your own vocabulary.

Bad writer! Bad! Bad writer!

Hemingway highlights the words, sentences and phrases that are difficult to comprehend. And it runs a quick Flesch Reading Ease test on the text to give it a readability score.

When I first started using it, almost everything I wrote scored at 12th grade or above. In just a few weeks of practice with Hemingway, I was able to increase the readability of my copy down to about a 6th grade level.

(Lower is better.)

As an aside, Donald Trump is able to speak at about a 4th grade level. This is astonishingly difficult to do. I think it partially explains his success.

Workflowy

I first discovered outliners back in the old MS-DOS days with a tool called ThinkTank.

A good outliners makes it super easy to capture all your thoughts, and then rearrange and sort them in ways that make more sense. ThinkTank did it better than any tool ever, until Workflowy came along.

NOTE: This is not a mind-mapping tool. Mindmaps have their place, but outliners do an entirely different job.

I’ve been using Workflowy almost every day for the last four years. It’s that good. If you’ve never used an outliner, this is the one to try. And if you wish the outliner you used was better, this is the one to try.

Bonus: Scrivener

Scrivener isn’t free, but it is free-ish. (You can download a free trial.)

If you write long, complex documents, then this is the tool you want.

My most profitable work is writing webinars and video sales letters, and it would be waaaaaay harder without Scrivener. The learning curve is a little steep, but it’s a brilliant tool. If you write long documents, you’ll hate MS-Word after using Scrivener.

And if after you try it, you love it, (as I did), the purchase price is very reasonable. (I think I paid around $40.)

Improving Criminal Justice?

This is the Justice Problem

Law enforcement and the criminal justice system treat crime as a profit center, rather than as an obligation to make sure justice is served.

I can hear you exclaim, “You’re nuts!”

Perhaps I am. But consider…

If someone steals my car, gets caught, tried and convicted, what happens?

They go to jail, (at the taxpayers’ expense), and/or pay a fine to the state. This is the “Crime and Punishment” model of Justice.

Winners:
The jailer makes money. (More prisoners = more money.)
The state makes money. (More fines = more money.)
The attorneys make money. (More trials = more money.)

Losers:
Me: I suffer the loss of my car for some time, maybe permanently.
The Perp: He is branded a felon for the rest of his life.

The two parties directly affected by the crime both end up being victims, and the various people who are supposed to be meting out justice end up being enriched by the crime.

Is there a better way?

This is the Justice Solution

There is an older model of dealing with crime: the “Restitution” model.

Under that model, if someone who steals from me is caught, he is required to repay me for what he stole, plus some sort of premium.

I get the full value of my car back, plus some additional to make up for having suffered the loss, however temporary.

In other words, his debt is owed to me, and I am the one he must pay.

He loses because he has to pay back what he stole, plus the premium.

Once I am made whole, the affair is entirely ended. He is not branded for life as a “felon” and the property and time he stole from me is restored.

Under the “Crime & Punishment” model, a person who makes a one-time stupid decision is branded for life as a felon. Even if he spends the rest of his life as an honest, upright citizen. He is permanently in the same class as a career criminal.

Under the “Restitution” model, a person who makes a one-time stupid decision pays for it one time and is then free.

The “Restitution” model views crime as a debt incurred to the victim.

The “Crime & Punishment” model views crime as a debt incurred to “society”, whatever that is.

The “Crime & Punishment” model disregards the loss suffered by the victim, permanently dooms the perpetrator to life as part of an underclass, and enriches third parties from the event.

Conclusion

One of the steps on the road to reducing the power of the state and increasing individual freedom is to embrace the “Restitution” model of justice.

Let’s do that.