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 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.
  • Learn how you can get Scrivener to do exactly what you want and accelerate your writing career in less than 1 week with Learn Scrivener Fast.

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.

252 thoughts on “Why I Will Never Use Microsoft Word Again

  1. 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!!!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?.

    1. 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.

        1. 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.

  5. 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.


    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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. I am looking at Scrivner. But I keep finding these reviews by people who never learned to use Word telling us how it can’t do things. Usually they are excited about move Chapter and Scene.
    Word has done this for a long time.
    Use the H1 Style for Chapters titles and H2 for scene titles
    Then on the view ribbon turn on navigation pane. Boom I can now move my chapters and scenes as needed. No copy paste etc.
    Pair it with OneNote.. and you can tie notes to pages.. And its all well supported file formats.
    If you get it via Office 365. You can log onto any device with and work on your novel by storing on on one drive.
    Same for OneNote. And there are now Free versions of both to get you stated that we 100 browser based.
    Its the idea of all my project work stored in one location that both intrigues me and scares me. One corrupt file and its all gone. And not sure if there are recovery tools. I will look at it but Word does a lot more than it is given credit for and in 2016 I can’t even think of a crash.
    Like most art forms tools are nice. But most of the greatest works of literature were written with much less.

    1. Good thoughts, Ken. It doesn’t sound like Scrivner is for you – and that’s ok. On my Mac, I have my Scrivner docs saved to Dropbox and iCloud so I can use on my laptop and desktop. I prefer writing only there and don’t need the multi-device functionality. Sounds like you do and you found something that works… which is the key.

    2. I’m late to this, but Scrivener doesn’t use a single file. It uses lots of files. Think about how you use Word. The entire manuscript in one file. If you lose that, it’s lights out. But with Scrivener, lose one file and you only lose a single scene, assuming you use it that way. You don’t need to. Scrivener will also backup automatically to a different place, say OneDrive.

      You can add notes to Scrivener and link them to a chapter, scene, or a specific word.

      1. And again this proves my point. Its not Word its the users. I do not keep my manuscript in a single file and when it comes time to work with it as a single document I use the feature in Word that has been there for DECADES.. Master Document. Add to that what I can do in One Note.. I have some pretty powerful tools. Then add to that a back-up service that saves versions, there are several I am covered. Not saying Scrivner is bad. Just saying much of what I see praised is features I have been using in Word etc for years.

        1. uh oh! my book is totally in one single word file…ive saved different “versions” but the true meat is in one doc…thanks for the tips

  9. Great post. I use an application called Byword for my writing. It’s for the Mac but it is a great app to use for writing. I do want to transition to Scrivener eventually though. Thanks for sharing information about it.

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