Writing Software Changed My Life – For the Better

I’ll admit it, I’m not an organised person. My “office” is a chaotic storeroom of books, bills, important documents, and an assortment of other baubles. To be honest, it’s hard to move in here.

So it’s a tad ironic that when it comes to writing, I crave organisation. I hate having to have multiple Word files. I despise writing ahead because it means putting the scene in another Word file or constantly bumping it down while I write ahead of it. But what if I have multiple scenes that take place later in the book? Ugh.

Because of this, I never really planned out my books, I always wrote in a linear fashion and if I had a great idea for a scene, I would scribble on a piece of paper or just hope I remembered it when I got there.

Writing software has changed all that.

I started with yWriter5. There were two reasons.

  1. It was free.
  2. It was compatible with Windows.

I didn’t mind yWriter. Every chapter was its own file, so I could create a number of chapters and add data to them so I knew what I had planned for that chapter. If I had an idea for a scene in a chapter later than the one I was working on, I just hopped over to that chapter and added it.

There was a place for adding character information, scene information and so much more. And it had an export feature so I could fire it off to Word as a single compiled document when I was done.

The things I disliked about yWriter though were

  • Pop-up windows for writing.
  • The in-program spell check wasn’t user friendly
  • It felt like I was jumping through numerous tabs to find things I wanted.

For me, yWriter wasn’t a perfect solution, but it was vastly superior to Word. yWriter allowed me to be a bit chaotic and free flowing in my writing, yet provided me with enough structure that I could still see where the myriad of pieces fit.

A few weeks back, I saw a tweet about a Windows version of Scrivener.

I’d been anxious to try Scrivener because I’d heard great things about it and some of my favourite authors were using it. So I went ahead and downloaded the free Beta version.

I’m in love 🙂

Scrivener does all the things yWriter does, only it doesn’t have any of the issues I had with yWriter. There’s no pop-ups, spelling is handled much like my WordPress blog and all my info is handy on the left-hand side of the screen. I also appreciate that Scrivener has some built-in templates for characters and locations. Overall, it’s clear why yWriter is free and Scrivener is a paid for product; Scrivener just has more polish. I find I don’t flip from one tab to another because I can lay out my screen with all the info I need.

About the only issue I have with Scrivener is that the Windows version doesn’t have the capabilities of the newest version of Scrivener for Mac (which includes compiling straight to eBook formats!).

Regardless of which you choose (or if you know of another similar product), writing software allows so much more freedom and organisation of materials. I noticed a marked increase in output when I switched. Do you think it could help you too?

Posted in Tools of the Trade, Useful Links, Writing - General and tagged , , , .

5 Comments

  1. I’ve downloaded Scrivener too, but I’ve been having a hell of a time figuring it out. Admittedly, I’ve been a bit lazy about going through the tutorial, and hoped I could just jump in figure it out as I went along. That didn’t work. How long did it take you to figure out? Did you use it for your work-in-progress or did you just start a new project completely? And… I think I’ll stop now.

    • To be honest, I still haven’t figured out half of what it can do. I’m kind of learning as I go. I copied all the words from my current WIP to it and have continued on.

  2. I LOVE scrivener. I just took an hour to watch ALL tutorials…the kind British voice talked me through everything. It’s a perfect piece to slice my work and rearrange it easily.
    Only downside – as with every non-word software – is that I know my collegues won’t be talked out of using word, so I’d have to export to them and then import their changes back 🙁

    I also did not find a ‘track changes’ function like word. Maybe it’s not a great collab tool yet, but I love how it helps me to output a lot smoother.

  3. I love Scrivener, but word of warning: it ain’t going to be free much longer. Once they’ve ironed out all the bugs they are hoping for it to go live soonish.
    For those of you who haven’t used the tutorial, it’s a must. It takes time, but it’s time well spent.
    I like the fact that you can take a photo of a chapter, then completely re-write it, but you can keep the good bits from the first draft by having it at the side of your screen, instead of typing over old draft. I like the keyword function, which I have used to keep track of different plot lines featuring different characters.
    Scrivener allowed me to write one plot line, then write the second and slot it in to the right place. And… oh I could go on, but I have written about it at my blog.
    Just a last thing about things I don’t like… uhm… eh… most of the things I don’t like are bugs because it’s in beta version. The spell check is a bit clunky, but it’s forcing me to learn spellings that for the last twenty years I’ve hoped spellcheck will pick up on. There we go, that’s my last word 🙂

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