Hello again, an apologies for my sort-of absence the last couple of days. I went to a wedding this weekend, a not-so-enjoyable one at that, and they served this terrible food there. It was some dry chicken dish covered in what was supposed to be a fancy sauce, except the sauce was literally just the sauce from the $1 can of Chicken a la King my mom used to dump over a piece of toast for me when I came home from a school activity at like 9 p.m. in high school. And apparently this food was also bad in ways beyond taste, because I then found myself vomiting up my morning tea the next day, and for as much as I love tea, it does not taste very good coming back up or spilling out of your nose. So…I’ve been gone for a couple days.
But anyway, you likely did not want all of that information, so now that you’re all sufficiently grossed out, I’ll just be moving on now, getting into to what this post is actually about: It’s Writing Wednesday. Today, I thought I’d do a sort of discussion post/a breakdown of the mediums on which I like to write, and what I use them for. I have a couple different ways I like to write, but I always like to hear about new word processors and other resources that help other writers. Without further ado, here we go:
This has got to be a staple for most writers. We’ve all used it at some point; it’s a classic, even if you only wrote your essays in middle school in Word (which was how I was introduced to it). In terms of my writing now, Word has got to be my favorite platform for writing novels. Granted, I’ve never written more than a first draft, so I can’t say how useful it would be in the editing stages of a novel (it actually seems like it would be a bit tedious or difficult to edit in Word, but I don’t know), but for a first draft, it does the job well. It’s simple and easy to use, and when you’re trying to focus on nothing but the story and getting it on paper, that’s really all you need.
Oh, Google Docs. The unloved twin of Microsoft Word. I use Google Docs for school assignments all the time, just because it’s always been attached to my school email accounts and it’s easy to keep everything for all my classes in one place (and not take up so much memory saving Word documents to my computer). And, it does also have some advantages, like the fact that it’s online, so I can get to my stuff from any computer and not just my laptop (or a flashdrive that I’ll probably lose), and that it makes it very easy to be collaborative. So, I shouldn’t trash the program completely. It’s just never been a very good resource for me when it comes to novel writing. I find that when you start writing more than 15-20 pages on a single document, Google has a hard time loading it, and the couple times I’ve gotten to 40-50 pages on a single document, it becomes almost impossible to load it and I just have to start a new document, even if I’m working on the same story, and that makes it hard to stay organized. Additionally, it doesn’t always keep an accurate word count, which can be very annoying when it comes to NaNoWriMo. I’ve found that for every 10,000 words I write, Google Docs is usually off by 10 or so words, while Microsoft Word is usually only off by 2 or 3, if that.
Docs just doesn’t seem conducive to long form writing in my experience. At this point, I only use it as a way to back up my work, by copying parts of my novel from Word into a Google Doc every so often in case something were to ever happen to my laptop.
Scrivener by Literature and Latte
For anyone who’s never heard of it, Scrivener is a downloadable app for laptops (both Mac and Windows) by a company called Literature and Latte. It costs about $40 in U.S. dollars, but you can often get discounts on it if you win NaNoWriMo and get a special code.
Basically, the program is supposed to be a novel writers dream. It lets you plan out your novel, writing it in sections, gives you space in a single document for character or setting profiles…basically, it’s supposed to let you plot out everything for your story and keep it in one place as you write. I bought it a couple years ago, and honestly, I like it, but I don’t like it enough to make it my first-choice for writing software. I like the simplicity of Word, and Scrivener just has so much going on. I did the tutorial for it when I downloaded it a few years ago, and there was so much in there, I wasn’t able to keep track of everything, and I still don’t understand all the features. At this point, I do use it for planning and outlining novels sometimes, because it does have great resources for that, but I’ve never been able to sit and write a whole novel in it. I imagine all the organization tools might make it a good place to revise a novel or work on a second draft, but I’ve never done that before, so I honestly have no clue how that would go in practice.
God bless anyone that can handwrite a novel, because I don’t know how you do it (BUT YOU EXIST. I’VE SEEN YOU ON THE NANO SITE). Like, mad props to you. The only time I’ve ever even attempted that was in about 4th or 5th grade before I had a computer, and I certainly did not get very far. Handwriting, for me, is something that I only do on a few occasions: school assignments that have to be handwritten, writing letters, journaling, note-taking, or outlining a character or setting or something when I don’t have a computer handy. That’s about it. I could never do it for a novel, and I’m also shocked at people who can.
Anyway, that’s in for today’s Writing Wednesday, but let me know your thoughts on any of these methods of writing, and whether or not you know of any I haven’t tried! I’m not super attached to any of my methods, and am always on the look out for new writing software.