Every writer needs an arsenal of weapons; tools and resources to enrich and aid. I started the Writer's Arsenal page to share resources I use and believe are helpful.
Today I am looking at writing software/programs I find useful.
WORD AND GOOGLE DOCUMENTS
For years I used Word as my main writing software. It's main stream and user friendly. I grew up writing on Word and for didn't realize that there were other programs to use (other than Notepad). I found, however, I spent a lot of my time being distracted by the red underlines and green squiggles telling me I was doing something wrong. As someone who has a hard time turning off the internal editor those squiggles interrupt my writing flow.
Google Documents/Drive is handy because I can write on the go from anywhere, any time, on any computer and access my files. It still has the red and green squiggles that distract me, though. I use it now to back-up my writing and give me the choice to work on the go. An added bonus is that I can download my writing as a pdf file, which I prefer when I'm sharing my writing with others.
Scrivener is purchased software and has a bit of a learning curve. Even after using it for two years I am sure I still don't know how to use many of its functions, but is still my software of choice.
Scrivener is great for outlining and allows you to set up your novel in chapters that you can easily bounce between. There are character templates, scene templates, and research folders. This eliminates forever scrolling in your Word document or having to create different documents for each chapter and task. Running all those Word documents at the same time can slow down your computer and often proves frustrating. It doesn't have the red or green squiggles and you can track your word count and set writing goals. When you are ready you can compile your project, and if you used a template, Scrivener will format your manuscript for you. If you do a lot of novel writing I recommend it.
Focus Writer is a customizable distraction-free writing software. The full-screen feature takes away all distractions, hiding browser icons, tabs, and other files. You have to consciously exit the program if you want to check your socials.
It has a nifty feature that allows you to keep the text in the centre of the page, like a typewriter. The feature saves your neck from constantly tilting down as your text gets to the bottom of your page. There are also goal and word count tracking abilities.
Focus Writer is a good software to write in, but I find I need to copy and paste my text into another program. I saved a Focus Writer file onto my computer but using the icon doesn't automatically open your document in Focus Writer. You can open documents from within the program as long as you don't move the file location. I de-clutter/rearrange my (digital) desktop daily, so the saving feature doesn't work well for me.
While I enjoy the customization features, this can also be distracting on its own. I spend much of my time trying to find/create a fun, inspiring, background then writing. However, once I start it is easy to become immersed and generate a solid amount of work.
I do not find it useful for larger projects. It doesn't have outlining features for large projects like Scrivener has. Instead, I prefer to use Focus Writer for my blog posts or when writing scenes in isolation. However, if you are looking for a decent, free, writing software this one is good.
It's taken me a while to warm up to Evernote. I know people use it exclusively as their writing software of choice. As with Google Documents you can use Evernote remotely and sync documents between devices. This gives you the ability to open your writing on your phone, tablet, or laptop and have everything at your fingertips. I do not use Evernote as my main writing software but I love the dictation and voice recording features. I often use it to record story notes. I typically use it as I am on the cusp of sleep and an idea pops up. I grab my phone, use the voice recording feature and ramble away. When I am writing later I have my notes in one place.
For me, I find it best to combine these tools. Each story, each month, has different needs. Sometimes I'm on the go and need the flexibility of Cloud based programs. Other times I need the ability to outline a large project and see everything at once, or I need a full-screen tool to help reduce distractions.
No matter where I am, I am always armed and ready to write.
What writing software do you use or prefer?