Writing software – changing technology

I have been writing books for years. Back in the old days, I had a Atari 520 ST with a word processor, Lotus word pro. I am glad to say that writing software has come a long way since then. It was one up from a piece of paper but not by much. The font was hideous, I used to print it out to read it which took forever, and still looked just a grim.

Lotus Word Pro

I have always been a bit of a computer geek, and pretty much as soon as home computers progressed out of the games consoles era, I was quick to take that step. I continued with Lotus word pro on the PC for a while before Microsoft Word took over as my core writing software choice. Under the wings of Word I actually managed to finish two whole books. Neither of these being of a quality I felt an inclination to publish – I like to think of myself as a realist – but it did at least teach me about the stamina needed to actually get a book from inception to completion.

Microsoft WordI am one of those people who just like to write. I don’t necessarily need an end goal I just really want to write. The down side with this is that I have a great swathe of half-baked stories. These ‘in-progress’ stories are planned out in my head, and I have started writing anywhere from one to half a dozen chapters, but never taken them any further. Unfortunately, if you don’t have natural discipline, Microsoft word doesn’t really give you any additional help. I bought a few guides on how to plan a book, and these went some way. I used some of the principles, you know the basics, list the chapters, write a summary for each chapter, write a more detailed list of points you want to cover for each chapter. It helped – at least a bit.

I had been a basic Microsoft girl for a good twenty years before I bit the operating system bullet and moved over to a Mac. Possibly the most agonising month of my life!

My husband was already an apple fan and had been using a Mac for years, so my painful transition was of course all his fault. Until you actually move from one system to another I don’t think you realise just how much knowledge you have managed to build up over twenty + years. I didn’t know any of the short cuts, and some things just drove me absolutely insane!

My husband put up stolidly with my daily rants, until eventually I figured it out and the impassioned complaints tapered off. I got used to word on the mac – it was OK – but clunkier, and I wasn’t entirely happy with this. It felt harder, and when you are writing you really want to forget about the tool you are using to craft, and just focus on the crafting.

ScrivenerMy husband, ever vigilant in the quest to force me out of my computing comfort zone, and in spite of all the drama that had surrounded me moving from Microsoft to Apple, enthusiastically suggested that I may like to consider using a writing application called ‘Scrivener’. It had a really good rating, and would ‘allegedly’ help me with my planning, and dare I suggest it – actually help me to finish another book.

Again, it was a bit of a painful transition, but I am going to admit that I am delighted that I did it. Writing the first two books took me forever – writing a book using scrivener has, by comparison, been a piece of cake. I love scrivener, I set goals, I plan, I track progress, create deadlines, and compile straight to my kindle so I can read and edit what I have done the next morning while on my train to work.

Just one more time…I love scrivener! In my humble opinion it is the best writing software. If you haven’t given it a go yet, consider taking their free writing software trial.

So where am I now…

Another book is completed, and this is one that I have decided to make the positive call in regards to getting it published. I am just in the process of completing a review ready to hand it over to an editor.

I have planned out two further books to complete a trilogy. I am 70% of the way through the second one, and have the chapters roughly planned out for the third.

I am sure there are plenty of people out there who don’t need any help with their planning, or structuring, but for me scrivener has been a great help, and has made a big difference in me getting something quality across that all important line.