Writing Software – A Personal Note from an Author

The official NaNoWriMo is over, but for many of us the writing continues well into December. While it is amazing to write 50,000 words in 30 days, most novels are more than that, and my current project is no exception. However, Nation Novel Writing Month comes with some awesome winner’s goodies that always make me take a closer look at the software I use for writing.

Honestly, I love looking at all the new fangled things that software designers have thrown into the market. I enjoy the Free Trials, and only ever play with them for a day or maybe a couple of hours. Maybe it’s because of my age – I am not a young’un anymore – but while these all look pretty, my creative brain always stalls when I try to use them.

The first stories I ever wrote were done in little journals. And the ones I was particularly proud of got typed up on my mother’s electronic typewriter.

Or, one, really. I wrote a small adventure story featuring myself and my cousins getting lost in the Alaskan wilderness and I typed that one up. We had just gone on vacation to visit said cousins up in Kenai and my mind was full of the chill, rough terrain and, well, I had to capture it somehow. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful places in my life, but none really come close to Alaska.

But I digress. We’re talking about writing software here, and my general lack of adventure when it comes to switching. I made the switch from Word Perfect to Microsoft Word decades ago and I simply cannot find a system that I like better. Because of space issues and a general desire to stop killing our forests so much, I have switched from a corkboard and 3×5 cards to Scrivener.

Pest judging my writing

Because yes, Scrivener has a corkboard function that makes my creative muse happy to look at. I also use Scrivener for character sheets and world building notes. But for the actual writing process, it is Microsoft Word all the way. I can’t write on the Scrivener software because, and I know this sounds silly, I just don’t like the way it looks. Now, I also have a physical notebook beside me while I write that has a rough (single page) outline and some general notes for when I inevitably get stuck and have to review the book.

And yes, often if a scene is not coming to me, I pull out a pen and paper and handwrite the scene until I have a handle on it. I enjoy the scratch of pen on paper. Character voices are often clearer when I am handwriting too, so that is always nice.

I did check out some of the new plotting software on the market this year, but alas, these have not lasted the 14-day free trial either. I’m sure they work wonders for other writers, but I am perhaps showing my age in that I know what works for me and I would rather not muck it up. So I will stick with my Microsoft Word program and Scrivener’s corkboard for now. Maybe next year I will find the one that sweeps me off my feet, but I doubt it.

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