Writing Tools I’ve Used
by MW Cook
Pen and Paper
I used to resort to this quite often. I was enamored by the organic classiness of it. I was in love with that conservative idea that whatever we did in the past is better than whatever we’re doing now. It made me feel pretty cool and puritanical. And, yes, sometimes those two can go together.
There were even a few benefits to this system. It forced me to write slower, which gave me a chance to think clearer about what I was writing. But, in the end, I did not accomplish much. It was too slow and my hands are not used to long periods of pen-writing.
I nearly swooned when I saw the electric typewriter in Goodwill. It was glorious. I bought it instantly. Visions of becoming the trendiest writer in the world danced in my head. I could see myself, in the middle of the night with one light hanging above me from the ceiling, pounding away at the typewriter, the gratifying tack-tack-tack encouraging me as I went.
I imagined that the typewriter would have freed my eyes from the distractions of a word processor. And it did, I suppose. But that tack-tack-tack got mind-numbing rather quick. And it was hard to read what I was writing, as the paper kept falling backward. In the end, I packed it up and put it away.
Generic Word Processors
Not very romantic, I know. But what do I care about? The romance I write or the romance in the way I write it? I wrote my first novel using Microsoft Word. It was … fine. Nothing especially good or bad about the experience. It only became difficult when the novel inched toward 100k words and the chapters threatened to get disorganized.
And then I found it. And, lo, great was the finding of … it.
Scrivener is a word processor made for creative writing. When I first downloaded the demo version a little voice in my head started to whisper. ‘Another fad for your writing, Matt? Another nifty thing to distract you from the work you’re supposed to be doing?’
I’m so very happy I did not listen to that voice.
Scrivener has blown my mind. I’ve been using it for months and I can hardly imagine what it was like to use anything else. Why so cool? I tell, I tell.
Scrivener organizes your work into parts, chapters, scenes, notes, research and more. You can write them together, move them around, organize them however you want. All your work goes into one file.
Scrivener has a very sexy full-screen mode. All you see is your writing. Distraction-free.
Scrivener formats your entire project automatically according to traditional manuscript standards. Or according to whatever standards you want.
Scrivener helps you to take a step back and look at your entire work at once. It’s hard to do that when your manuscript is over 130k words and spread across different files on your hard drive.
Scrivener automatically backs up your work to wherever you want it backed up. This is important, as I learned the second after my daughter poured a glass of milk over my old laptop.
I was only two weeks into my demo version when I bought it. And I haven’t looked back since. At the time of this writing, it’s only available for Mac. But I hear rumors they’re making a Windows version. Check it out. It has taken a lot of the clutter out of my process.
What do you use to write? Why?