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.
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.
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 productive, I recommend you:
- 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.
- Sign up for my upcoming Scrivener webinar. This Thursday, 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.