Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Why I Will Never Use Microsoft Word Again

I wasted years of my life doing all my writing on Microsoft Word. But that’s all over now. I have finally seen the light.

Why I Will Never Use Microsoft Word Again

After hearing so many writers I respect (people like Michael Hyatt and Andy Traub) talk about the magic of Scrivener, a word processor designed for serious writing projects, I decided to give it a go.

I had no idea what I was missing.

What’s so bad about Microsoft Word?

First things first. Here’s my beef with MS Word:

  • It’s complicated. I find the auto-indents and instant formatting cumbersome and frustrating. And yes, you can turn this stuff off, but navigating a plethora of menus is anything but easy.
  • It crashes. Like, all the time. I thought this was just me until I heard from other writers who struggle with this, too. Word will just randomly crash on you and unless you’re saving every seven seconds, you’re likely to lose some of your work. I have lost more than a few chapters of my books thanks to this feature.
  • It’s irrelevant. Those who swear by Word tell me they love the robust features like being able to add footnotes and chapter links and the like. Yes, that’s cool, but the problem with these features is that they’re pointless for authors. Any fancy formatting that Word lets you do doesn’t register with most typesetting software (subheads, bulleted lists, and endnotes/footnotes all have to be marked up manually and then designed by a book designer). So who cares?
  • It’s ugly. This may not be a big deal to you, but I like using beautiful, simple tools. They inspire me. And every time I open up Word, I feel like I’m making my life as a writer way more complicated than it needs to be.

What I really want when I write

As a writer, I basically just want to write. I don’t want to have to worry too much about making sure the tools work right or having to fix some funky formatting because of an invisible rule that Word set up because it “intelligently” thought I was doing something that I wasn’t.

And I don’t think I’m alone in this.

By no means am I an accomplished technologist, but I know my way around a computer and can figure a lot of things out. And I know for a fact, I have wasted days of my life trying to fix something that Microsoft Word messed up, just trying to get the text back to normal. But what’s a writer to do?

For the longest time, I thought the answer was just “grin and bear it.” Well, not anymore.

Enter Scrivener…

As soon as I opened up Scrivener, I was amazed at how much easier it was than Word. Yes, it’s a robust program, full of features I know I haven’t taken full advantage of (more on that in a minute), but immediately I made a vow to myself.

“I will never use Microsoft Word again,” I said after writing my first piece on Scrivener.

I just finished my last book, The Art of Work, and wrote the entire thing on this wonderful word processor. Guess what didn’t happen while writing that book? I never lost a chapter due to the program crashing. I never screamed at the computer for forcing an indent I didn’t actually want. It just worked.

Why I love Scrivener

Here are a few reasons why I love this program and recommend Scrivener to any writer:

  • It’s affordable. At most, it’ll cost you $45 ($40 for PC). Compare that to Word’s $139 price point, and it’s a no-brainer (consider Scrivener is way better and much more writer-friendly). Find out more here.
  • It’s simple. Unlike MS Word, there’s a distraction-free mode that allows you to just write and not worry about anything else. If you’re a Mac user, it’s similar to what Pages allows you to do (but better).
  • It’s easy to use. One of my favorite features of Scrivener is how you can create small mini-documents (called “texts”) and drag and drop them in whatever order you want. This is essential for me when writing a book, as I am writing it piece-by-piece and often moving chunks around. In Word, you have to copy, scroll, and paste. It’s not very efficient or easy. This is my favorite feature of Scrivener.
  • It’s ideal for authors. You can export your work to any digital book version, which allows you to publish directly to Amazon, B&N, or wherever without having to hire a designer (which can easily cost you $500 just to format the book). That feature alone is worth the cost of the software.
  • It’s multifaceted. Scrivener comes with templates that allow you to write for whatever form or style you prefer (screenwriting, novel, nonfiction book, etc.). I have even heard of people like Michael Hyatt using it for blogging. The possibilities are endless, but honestly I am just beginning to learn all the potential uses for this tool.

So what does this mean for you?

I think if you’re happy with MS Word, by all means keep using it. As for me, I’m done with it. It just doesn’t compete with Scrivener. And finally, after years of feeling frustrated, I’m able to write without worrying about anything else.

If, however, you’re looking for something to make your writing life easier, something that will help you be more creative and product, I recommend you do the following:

  1. Go grab a copy of Scrivener. It really is a steal for the value you get. There’s even a free trial version of it. Check it out here. Use the coupon code “selfpublishing” during checkout to receive $9 off.
  2. Sign up for my upcoming Scrivener webinar. This Wednesday, my friend Joseph Michael will be sharing how to use Scrivener to its fullest potential (there are some advanced features that I admittedly don’t know much about and am excited to learn from the Scrivener Coach himself).

Whatever you do, I hope you don’t spend as much time as I did feeling frustrated, just trying to get your words out into the world. You deserve a tool that helps you get the job done. I’d love to hear more from you in the comments about what tools you use to get your writing done.

Do you like using MS Word? Why or why not? Have you ever used Scrivener? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Been using Scrivener since installing the trial version back in October. Definitely love it and find it worth investing the time in learning how to use it properly. Will most certainly be buying it once the trial expires; it made resurrecting my 5 year old incomplete novel a breeze. Now I have hope I’ll actually complete it!!!

  • I used a trial version of Scrivener to test it out before purchasing and for me, wasn’t that fond of it. Having a background in I.T., and being a total Microsoft girl has jaded me though, I think. I’ve written three novels, and have seven others in various stages, all using MS Word.
    I attempted to write one in Scrivener, and ended up moving it back to Word once the trial ended.
    Yes, a lot of the tools in Scrivener are great for writers, and I can completely see the appeal for someone who is not tech savvy, or hasn’t worked with MS Word since it came out. As far as how user-friendly it is to the untrained person, Scrivener wins, hands down.
    The features that most writers I know love about Scrivener are things that I would never use it for, like the note board to help plot ideas and things. I’m old school I guess, and all of that is done on a whiteboard or in notebooks. However, I will admit, I would be tempted to get it, just to house all of my research for upcoming novels in one place.
    Great post though, thanks for the insight.

  • I am glad being knowing this version of Scrivener. Hope it can go forward to denominate M Word. I remember a long time ago there was a time when I and many friends loved Lotus123. We really like it very much, Then Microsoft released Excel. I hate this Excel, its ugly for me. But hey! what happen next? Lotus change their new release that almost just look like Excel. It was really sad for us. Coming years no more friend use Lotus… Hope this will be a time for another release like Scrivener to battle.

  • Eduardo Dominguez

    Thank you for your information about scrivener.At this moment I am looking
    For a microsoft program for speechwriting. Do you think this is good
    for that?.

  • I really like using Pages. Go full screen, hide formatting and you’re good to go.

    • Joseph Jammer Medina

      Pages is pretty solid, but I think Scrivener still edges it out due to its sheer number of useful features. Pages is pretty much how Word should be, but Scrivener is a different beast altogether.

      • I’ll have to check that out. Is it good for writing short form for blog content?

        • Joseph Jammer Medina

          It is. Once you learn how to compile your work quickly, it becomes a godsend. Basically I keep each blog post in a separate text file within a single Scrivener file. Hard to explain without pictures, but it makes working so much faster.

  • Andrea D’Angelo

    Hi Jeff. I really think that there’s a big hole in Scrivener and that you, and a lot of people like you, are considering “writing” in a really different way I’m doing (I’m a published author in Italy). My point is: when drafting, Scrivener is worst than word due tomits lack of language tools. Not everyone is writing in English and has the Operating System tools (on a Mac, for example) at hand and well built. Italian language tools (thesaurus and so on…) on OS X are very disappointing. Not useful (for a beginning writer dangerous, for the text, I mean). Discarded at once.
    My comolain is: in 2016 a writer might want an inline tool, while writing, and not jumping from an Application to another all the time. Within Word that’s possible and make a whole lot of a difference, talking about writing itself, which is the main point of the whole discussion, right?
    I really love Scrivener and I will use it for my next novel. For all the positive things you’re saying about it, that I too appreciate and judge like you. But there’s a big hole in that software and saying, as some of the Scrivener Team said to me (not a complaint about them and their good job, only to testify the way of thinking), that you can use the System tools means not understanding what is the main goal of a writer: writing,, not reviewing and organizing its texts. That last part is true to a journalist or for writer other tasks (such as a blog). And underestimate that part is a little short-vision in my opinion. As said, we’re not all writing in English.
    Anyway, I will do it with Scrivener next time. In the end I will have a better idea of what I’ve lost switching to it and what I gained.

    In the meanwhile, thanks to you and to all the people writing about writing: I feel so connected to people like you, populating the world. So, thanks and carry on sharing yout thoughts.

    Cheers,
    Andrea

    P.S.: Word is a crap only with complexed formatting texts. For a normal text it’s easier to use and manage than Scrivener. And saying that those Word menus are more complex than the Scrivener ones it seems a little too optimistic to me. Too fallen in love, I guess. Both software have a learning curve not so short, let’s say, if you want to dominate them. That’s not a point for Scrivener: as an IT professionalmI can tell you that I consider Scrivener more affordable, but more complex than Word. My opinion, obviously.

  • Donna Marie

    Hi there jeff would u happen to know of a voice recognition software compatible to scrivner. i have windows voice recognition software and dragon naturally speaking 13.5 and it not comptible but is window i wonder?

  • person

    I. HATE. WORD! thanks for posting that its awsome!

  • Shawn Cicoria [scicoria@MSFT]

    i’m just challenged with the typing lag time in macOS version. Seems like its trying to do too many things. Scrivener i don’t have that. I like Ulysses too, but that misses on visual presentation for images, etc.