Writing Tools You’ll Like Far Better Than Microsoft Word

Writing Tools You’ll Like Far Better Than Microsoft Word

GIVEAWAY: Will is generously giving away a Kindle copy of his latest ebook, Writing for the Web, to the person who leaves his favourite comment. Bonus points if you make him laugh! Comment within one week to enter. Good luck! (Update: Martina won!)

Many writers struggle with MSW addiction. They tell themselves they’re not addicted. They tell themselves they need MSW. They tell themselves they can quit whenever they want.

But they can’t. No matter how much they hate it, no matter how much they wish they could stop, no matter how much it affects their professional and personal lives, they keep using MSW.

I, for one, will no longer enable the use of Microsoft Word.

I know all the excuses.

“I’ve been using it forever.”

“I have to use it. It‘s the only way to get my work done.”

“I just need it for one more project. After that, I quit.”

Does any of these excuses sound familiar? Well, I’m here to tell you there’s a way out.

No more fighting with frustrating and convoluted menu systems. No more deciphering mysterious formatting and layout quirks. No more emailing Word files to your friends and colleagues with your fingers crossed, hoping your document appears correctly.

Word processing beyond Word

To start, you might try another, better word processor. Apple’s Pages and Google Docs are the heavy hitters and Scrivener is a long-time writer favorite. There are also new entrants, such as Quip, who hope to modernize word processing. Each of these programs is superior to Word, but you can go even further.

Be bold: quit word processing altogether. Or at the very least, quit using word processors for composition.

You see, word processors, especially ones like Microsoft Word, aren’t actually good tools for composition.

The act of composing is about ordering and structuring thoughts. It’s not about setting your margins or choosing fonts or italicizing phrases. But word processors are notoriously bad at letting you just compose.

MS Word Just Say No

Word processors conflate composition with typesetting. Making stylistic decisions about your work is a separate mental process from penning your thoughts. When writing software forces you to deal with presentational elements, it only distracts from composition. Even if you try to ignore the stylistic decisions, Word will be typesetting your text anyway. And you’re still stuck looking at a bloated interface built for formatting, not composing.

So during your composition process, skip the apps that want you to make stylistic decisions. Instead, use a plain text editor.

Editing in plain text

Plain text editors let you compose in plain, unformatted text. Notepad for Windows and TextEdit for Mac OS X are the standards, but they’re nothing compared to more robust editors. There are fantastic plain text apps that provide a heavenly writing environment, especially compared to the hell of Microsoft Word.

Here are a few options to get you started:

  • iA Writer and Byword are beloved by Mac users. They also have iOS counterparts, so you can use them on your iPhone and iPad.
  • WriteMonkey and Q10 are Windows-only options. They’ve been around for years and have been battle-tested by many a writer.
  • OmmWriter and Texts are both cross-platform editors, meaning they work on both PCs and Macs. If you use multiple machines with different operating systems, these programs are a great way to maintain a similar writing environment on each device.

Try composing in several different programs to help you get a feel for which one you prefer. I guarantee they’ll all be a more pleasant experience than your word processor. And if you absolutely have to, you can always turn to a word processor later in your workflow, when you need to format or print a document. (Although, I suspect that if most of your writing is intended for the web, you’ll have little use for it at all.)

Remember, friends don’t let friends use Microsoft Word. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it.)

How do you feel about Microsoft Word? Do you have a favorite program for composition?

Don’t forget to comment so you’re in the running for Will’s ebook giveaway! You could win a free Kindle copy of his latest ebook, Writing for the Web(Update: Martina won!)

Filed Under: Craft
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182 comments

  • Judith Robl says:

    I find all Microsoft’s products bloated and unwieldy. I have no idea how they became the “universal standard” for files exchanges. And the fact that doing any editing in MSW requires that one change screens between processes boggles the mind. Thank you for a relevant post and marvelous links. I’ll be trying out your suggestions post haste.

    • Will Moyer says:

      Yeah, Microsoft definitely has a habit of building bloated, try-to-be-all-things-to-all-people software. It’s a shame because that approach often creates a mediocre experience for everyone.

      Anyway, glad to help Judith!

      • Donna Arthur says:

        I’m attaining my dream. Currently I am finishing my BA in English and writing a novel. For decades I put off doing what I wanted to do and focused on what I had to do. It is my turn now, and I have polished off those archaic ideas and thoughts and expanded my universe in every way but one. For my research papers I must use APA or MLA and of course Riverpoint Writer is excellent for those. I hate Word for my writing. When I write I do not always write in a straight line. An idea may hit me that needs to be in a totally different chapter from the one I’m writing and then I’m working through page breaks, scrolling through chapters, etc. I hate that. I have not tried any of the ones you suggested but I’m on my way now to see which one will work best for me. I want out of my rut, out of the mire that is MSW, and into the life I desire – a published accomplished author with much to my credit. First item on the agenda: create a blog. Next item: determine a subject – this has me stuck like molasses in January. After 67 years on this planet you’d think I could pick a subject but nothing has hit and stuck! Hobbies over the years? So many directions. Traveling. Overdone. Genealogy? Horseback riding for seniors? Where do I turn and what do I say? First, though, is this new software! Thank you for showing me the way!

        • Dave S says:

          Holy fucking shit dude

        • Anthony says:

          I thing you can try that may help you with organizing your manuscripts, if you haven’t done so already, is to learn how to use the Headings styles in MS Word to break up your manuscript into manageable chunks. You can define chapters and scenes using the Headings and then easily navigate around your manuscript using the Navigation Pane. I find that it definitely helps with a more nonlinear style of writing.

          I tried using Scrivener and I did like a lot of its features, but I didn’t like how I had to still export my manuscript in smaller chunks and then recompile them together in Word for submission and formatting. I also didn’t like how a Scrivener manuscript is associated with its own project folder, which made it difficult to keep track of different projects when using the cloud to work on a manuscript across multiple computers. So I did some research and by learning how to use the Heading styles and Navigation pane I was able to reproduce in Word some of the features in Scrivener that I liked.

          I’ve had some contact with people in the publishing world, and like it or not, it seems that for the foreseeable future MS Word will continue to be the word processing standard in the publishing industry because apparently it is the only word processor that has all the comprehensive editing and typographical features that editors need to work with manuscripts, or so I’ve been told.

          • Metron says:

            What you say is interesting. Word does have some drawbacks, and although Scrivener is helpful it still has its own weaknesses, one of which you have pointed out. Sometimes I still get some lack of clarity in Scrivener which is not easier to eliminate than in Word. Your suggestion to use navigation pane is something which I will try out to see how it works.

      • Paul says:

        I am looking for a word processing program that is strictly on my computer, does not go to “the cloud” or associate with anything online or outside my device. This is simply for my personal song writing. I’m Basically looking for a typewriter. LoL. I now use google docs, text editor, and word but outta the blue have found word won’t let me edit or deleat without out signing in to an account. This leads to cookies and lots bull I don’t trust. Thanks

    • claus martin says:

      The Microsoft programs got the standarad, because Microsoft developed the operating system for the first IBM PC’s.
      And these PC’s got the standard desktop computers in industry worldwide.

      Industry needs standards, excellent documentation and service. And those was not available at that time from other companies, which could compete with IBM.

      And Text-software programs were used only by secretaries at the beginning, who did not creative work.

      • Stephen says:

        Claus, from your comment here, I think it safe to assume you are not an entrepreneur. Had you ever attempted to market a product or service, you would not hold a notion like this. One could paste over the words “Microsoft programs” in your post any of hundreds of powerful product names marketed in the early IBM era that no longer exist today. SuerCalc, a spreadsheet program, ran on Apple and all PCs running DOS, including IBM. It was the “standard” and may have been the first computer program considered “a standard.” In spite of all that power, Microsoft Excel buried it in the early 90s.

        Way back when I purchased my first copy of Microsoft Word, I had spent days trying to choose between Word, WordStar, and WordPerfect. At that time, WordPerfect was the standard word processor, and many of my friends thought me crazy for choosing the upstart Word.

        As long as the marketplace is open and free, people will spend time examining options prior to making a final choice. Moreover, given that kind of market ethos, there will be nearly infinite choice. The vast majority needing a word processor have chosen Microsoft Word. I believe that free people free to choose make good choices.

        • Tom Boussum says:

          Stephen, you can talk standard until you are blue in the face, but in my opinion Microsoft is at least a decade behind the competition in all phases of computing. One might even say that they have been resting on their laurels for so long that whatever creativity they brought into computers is long gone.
          Questionably they are, of course, known for their operating systems, but will they ever come up with one that needs not to be tweaked almost continuously until it is abandoned only to be replaced by another that is buggier than a New Jersey swamp in June. It is my devout wish that someone would dethrone the overweight monster that is Microsoft. As someone who has written engineering standards for everything from surgical supplies to airfield marking and lighting and visual landing aids, I find it interesting that the “standardization agency” known as Microsoft has not been able to garner an even larger corner of the market.
          In my opinion I prefer WordPerfect as a Wysiwyg word processor over anything else on the market. Every time I have been forced to use Miicrosoft for writing I have felt imposed upon. Generally speaking, I prefer my old Underwood to anything Microsoft has to offer.

    • Stephen says:

      Here is how Microsoft programs became the standard. Because DOS was far and away the best operating system for the money (note that qualification), Microsoft had infinite resources to spend on developing new programs. It follows then, that those new programs were so superior to the choices available, the majority of buyers chose them over other options. Add to this the fact that Bill Gates is considered by business historians as the greatest business manager ever in the history of the greatest country ever, and the conclusion is a no-brainer.

    • Thomas Murphy says:

      Microsoft became the industry standard because Bill Gates was smart enough to install DOS (as was) on every office machine he sold for “free”. At the time, most computers were sold without an operating system.

      By “giving away” the operating system, Bill realised that people would look for software programs which actually worked on it. That is where he made his money. Pretty soon, in the business world, Microsoft was king because they were one of the first out of the block with integrated word processor, spreadsheet, database and presentation software.

      The rest was down to the fact that businesses crave stability and standards and that they have to share documents between departments and also with their customers, suppliers, government departments and so on.

      Guess who very quickly got into government departments and pitched his wares ….?

      • Stephen says:

        Mr. Murphy,

        Please don’t take this as rude, but what you are saying here is not correct. MS-DOS originated as only one of the several operating systems offered by IBM in 1981 when they started marketing what came to be called the PC. The majority buying an IBM machine back then opted to add MS-DOS because it wasn’t free and it wasn’t expensive. Gates was a marketing genius, and he priced MS-DOS perfectly for the IBM market.

        Keep this in mind. IBM pitched everybody remotely capable of producing an operating system for their machine. It was not pure luck that Gates got in on the deal. Microsoft became instantly profitable because the were hanging on IBM’s coat tail, the biggest tech company in the world. They succeeded because Gates was willing to produce what IBM wanted.

        Secondly, Gates never sold any “machine.” From 1981 to 1995, MS-DOS was licensed to over 70 companies producing computers. Among them were all of the big producers like IBM, Gateway, Dell, Tandy, Commodore, and so forth. Apple, by comparison, was tiny. By the mid-80s, computer manufacturers stopped offering multiple possible operating systems and simply relied on DOS. Since 1995, Microsoft has over-whelmingly dominated the market for operating systems — a 35-year streak unmatched by any other company in marketing history.

        • Thomas Murphy says:

          Stephen,

          Thanks for the detailed history lesson. I must confess I was relying on a very old and unreliable “folk memory” when I made my post and did not go back to check the details of the story. No wonder defence lawyers can tear apart eye witnesses in Court with such ease!

          The key point, as you also acknowledge, is that Bill Gates was a very smart marketing man and thus his product became ubiquitous. In the same way that no-one was ever fired for buying IBM, so no-one ever lost their job buying Microsoft – certainly not in the corporate world.

          That having been said, Microsoft has never been a generous company. Unlike others who embraced the open source model, Microsoft has always preferred to create closed, proprietary products in an attempt to lock in their customers. In the early days, that, too, was a key part of their success: sell everywhere at a reasonable price, lock in your customers and your customer’s customers and suppliers and then turn the ratchet.

          • Jeffrey Kukkola says:

            Just an update on the Open Source topic mentioned. In the last year MS has open sourced large portions of their development code. Yes, retail products are still sold as retail items. However, their contributions to the open source community in the development area is very interesting and I believe has caught many people by surprise. Check GitHub – where most open source projects live.

        • Chip Keyes says:

          You’re forgetting a machine that was my first computer, and changed my writing in a major way. I bought my first Kaypro 2 in 1984, for writing TV scripts at home. And a second one for the office in 1985. (Each was bundled with a daisy-wheel printer.) It had two floppy drives, the top one for application floppy, the lower to save the work on. The computer was called a “luggable”, bulky and heavy but one piece (the keyboard attached, keys inward, onto one end) and one could tote it with one hand. (Of course, you needed some strength to carry it.) It and it’s elegant (for the time) operating system CP/M were designed by the late, great Alan Kay (sp?) a gentlemen who took it in stride when a lot of his code “somehow” ended up in MS-DOS. A classy gent with a fine soul, a very solid machine who should not be forgotten. Not yet anyway.

          • Carri says:

            I started with a Kaypro also – bought it from a dealer who was clearing his inventory since he knew CP/M was going out. Well, it worked for me till I finally had to upgrade. The Kapro was
            $4,000 + to buy and I sold it for $20. to a lady who wanted a place to keep her recipes organized. How the computer world has changed.

        • Chip Keyes says:

          I think Bill Gate’s genius was actually luck in the form of IBM’s shortsightedness. I was told they had an option to BUY MS-DOS outright from Gates/Microsoft and balked at the price. After which Gates proceeded to “license” it, for a fee, to EVERY computer sold that ran the system. So IBM remained a hardware company with slowly diminishing returns, Microsoft a software outfit that would for some time control most of the computing world. (That’s all– as far as I know– at least a 90%accurate recounting. I’m older now, memory no longer a steel trap. Sometimes more like flypaper. Or scotch tape…

          • Stephen says:

            Fortunate that you prefaced your remarks with “I think.” However, you should know that IBM’s carefully considered decision to stick with hardware led to “Deep Blue” (Look it up), which is the reason Warren Buffet became a major IBM stockholder. IBM went on to build new kinds of massively parallel computers such as IBM Blue Gene (Look it up). Blue Gene’s 131,000 parallel processors routinely handle 280 trillion operations every second. A single scientist with a calculator would have to work nonstop for 177,000 years to perform the operations that Blue Gene can do in one second. I suppose I don’t have to explain how this has benefited simple, poor families all over the world by providing universities, governments, and commercial research labs with technical ability to address a wide range of problems that had simply been too complex to tackle. BTW, you may be interested to know, last year alone, IBM invested a mind-boggling $5 billion in new technologies. It is impossible to calculate the benefit this investment will ultimately bring to ordinary people like you and me.

    • Millie Neon says:

      Used to train lawyer to use MS Office and I also used to be a typesetter. I really enjoy formatting as I type, and using keyboard shortcuts makes it fast and easy. I write screenplays, among other things, and I need a program with styles that I can assign keyboard shortcuts to so I can change styles rapidly.

      When I quit doing software training, I got a Mac and switched to Pages, which is a great little program. Not as robust as Word, but I could do what I needed to with styles, so I was happy. Then they started changing things because they want an app that works with iOS and Mac’s OS and lets users go back and forth seamlessly. So they started getting rid of features I used. Made me mad. When upgrading feels like downgrading, that’s not good. But even so, I don’t get Word. Too bloated. Too bad Word pushed WordPerfect out of the picture. That was a great program.

      There’s also Open Office, which is an open source version of MS Word’s programs (and it’s FREE). I’ve used that some. Just haven’t used it enough to zoom around in it. Thinking about it though.

  • Mike Coville says:

    Word is good for writing a business letter when the whole company is using Office products. For personal use, especially when writing a manuscript, nothing beats Scrivener. It gives so much control to the writer.

    For the mobile writer, I like Evernote and Google drive because they synchronize to my main computer easily and allow me to copy paste into Scrivener easily.

    • Kathy Frost says:

      I worked with Scrivener for a while and found it difficult to master. It takes a lot of setting up. (I just want to start writing) Pieces are scattered and disjointed. There are enough writing shortcuts. I didn’t like how you had to name each scene. It was very clunky and hard to read straight through. Very difficult to transfer a Word document (I have many WIPS) into Scrivener. I saw a few advantages over Word, but not enough to use it full time.

      I don’t write in chunks, like Scrivener. I write linearly, from beginning to end, not in pieces that require elaborate compilation later. I love Autocorrect so I can type 2-3 letters and have expand to long names, words, phrases and places that I don’t have to write out every time. (Especially nice when I’ writing fantasy) With Word, I can save my doc at any time as a PDF, send it to my Kindle, and read the completed work (so it looks like a book) and use Kindle’s note feature for marking changes for editing.

      For me, Word works. I could write a third of a novel in the time it would take to learn Scrivener.

      • Sallie says:

        I totally agree with you. I write like you and have completed 7 novels on Word. Tried to learn Scrivener, but decided by the time I learned all the bells and whistles, I could just write another book. Ultimately, whatever works is what you should use.

  • MSW has taken on new meaning for me! No longer simply a graduate degree (Master of Social Work) it is now a new frontier of addicition recovery and exploration of composition tools:-) I will accept the challenge to break from my comfort zone and explore your suggestions with my new M-S-W alternative approach: Mining-Smoother-Wordsmithing!!:-)

  • Martin Pigg says:

    Hi Will.

    I guess your article solidified my status as a newbie writer, because I didn’t know this was such a hot topic in the writing world. I just fire up Pages and get started.

    Thanks for helping to expand my creative boundaries. Now, it’s back to the writing.

    Tailwinds,
    Martin Pigg

    • Will Moyer says:

      No, you’re not a newbie. Most of the writing and publishing world uses and relies on Word. Its ubiquity is one of the main things that keep other writers from branching out and finding tools that better suit them. I wish it was a hot topic because writers deserve better!

      By the way, a new version of Pages just came out last week. (https://www.apple.com/mac/pages/) Have you gotten a chance to try it out? If so, I’d be interested to hear your experience with it.

  • Susan Neal says:

    Hi – I’ve tried Scrivener, but I’ve gone back to MS Word – I found Scrivener too complicated and fiddly, and just couldn’t get to grips with it. I feel comfortable writing in Word – I’m sure other tools are superior in many ways, but my familiarity with Word, built up over years of use, means I just find it much easier to use. It enables me to focus on my writing, without having to worry about the mechanics of the tool.

    So, unlike Debi, I’m afraid I’m going to stay in my comfort zone 😉

    • Mike Bove says:

      I had the same experience with Scrivener. I am back with Word, but ignore a lot of it. I intend to give Scrivener another try as I did not give it enough effort before. MonStrosity Word and I will part ways someday. I’m tired of the daily battles. As Will points out, writing is the main thing, so eliminating the fluff would be a good thing.

    • narutoben10af says:

      Use Pages. It’s much better than MSWord.

    • Susan, I am like you. I have tried Scrivener many times, and it never took. Part of the issue is that I honestly love Word. I’ve been writing in it for about 20 years, and at this point, I’m completely comfortable with it. I also use it to format my ebooks and print books, and find it perfectly able to do everything I want it to.

      I don’t have anything against other programs. Q10 is a great, lightweight program, and I used it installed on a netbook for several years. It didn’t need as much memory as Word and it’s great for distraction free writing. But it also doesn’t allow ANY formatting, so if I want something in italics, I’m out of luck.

      That said, I kept having FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) feelings about Scrivener, so I have been using it for my NaNoWriMo project this month, and I’m finally starting to appreciate it. EXCEPT — and here’s something that is important to me — Scrivener’s file formats aren’t universal, so if I want to work on it on another machine without Scrivener installed, I have to remember to compile it as a Word document. This adds another layer of work, which is frustrating.

      So yeah, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool PC & Word user myself. Nothing against other programs, but I get a little tired of people hating on tools that have worked beautifully for me for decades. 🙂

  • Stephanie Katcher says:

    Looks like I should be leveraging Byword to avoid programming more keyboard shortcuts. ((Imagine all the things I could DO with that extra time….)) However I am mildly concerned about social stigma. I knew what category I fell into as a Mac-TextEdit user, despite my MSExcel dependency. And I was okay with that. Byword though, what will people say?

  • Lisa says:

    Another Evernote user here! Surprised that’s not on your list. I’m always on mobile so it’s great for me — and I love that I can save ideas and notes from sites, too. I’m constantly seeig an article or study I want to write about and clipping it to Evernote to use later.

  • Interesting post! In terms of composition, I think you’re absolutely right: Word sucks. I like Pages for blog drafts and OmmWriter for creative pieces.

    Unfortunately, the majority of my time isn’t spent composing. I’m an editor, and in my line of work, it’s all about what’s compatible with the programs my authors are using. Pages has its own Track Changes system, but most of my authors don’t have Pages, and I’m always paranoid some of my tracked changes will be lost when I convert the file to .docx. Plus most of my authors are self-publishers, so they want to work within Word since it’s easier for them to format a final draft that will upload properly to online publishing services. For the time being, it looks like I’m stuck wrangling with the beast.

  • Abbigail says:

    Another Evernote junkie here, too! I’ve been using it for so many things (saving articles, photos, etc. to have later) for so long, it’s hard to give up. I do think a program in which I ONLY write might be a psychologically decent move, though – If I could train my brain to settle into writing mode as soon as I opened a certain program, I think I would have it made. I also wouldn’t be surfing the net for new writing tools and techniques when I should just be writing. 🙂

  • Alexis Grant says:

    Any of you Evernote junkies want to write a post for us about tips for writers who use Evernote?

  • Jane says:

    This post could not have come at a better time! It was just this afternoon that I was using Word on my Mac and the font would mysteriously change to Calibri no matter how many times I set it to Times New Roman. I actually yelled at my laptop, “Why do you hate me?” before I found out I had to change the default settings.

  • I love your post. The tool I like better than MSW is simply paper and pen. The act of composing is about pushing your hand to pick up the pen and paper to write.

  • Mary says:

    Aha- just what I was looking for: checking out all the alternatives is the distraction I need to keep me from actually doing any writing today. Looks like my cutlery drawer will just have to wait…

  • Julia says:

    Dear evil genie who keeps luring me back to Word. I knew it! Read above and leave me alone!

    Will – Thanks for the tips. Appreciated the comments from Evernote users and the editor. On tenterhooks waiting for the next installations.

  • Claudia says:

    Hello my name is Claudia and I’m a MS Word addict. BUT, I’ve recently switched to Mac and I don’t have MS Word installed and I’ve been going through withdrawals! It hasn’t been pretty, but I have been getting through it one day at a time.
    I have a Pages installed and the more I learn, the more it has been growing on me. I can see how MS Word isn’t the ideal tool for composing. It has all of these hidden formatting settings that require it’s very own “copy from Word” function when pasting into another editor.. annoying, I admit. Whereas with Pages it has pretty much been cut & paste and voila it’s there!
    I haven’t used Evernote yet, but it looks like it’s worth a looksie.
    Oh if you hear me cursing in her corner, don’t worry, it’s just me trying to kick the MS Word habit.

  • Wow. Talk about serendipity. I junked the entire MSOffice suite yesterday. I just could not take anymore of its uncooperative nature. The only reason I had MSW was because my boss at my freelance job insisted I get it. But I rarely use Word. I compose in Scrivener–love, love, love Scrivener. I would be lost without it, and I can export to Pages or LibreOffice if I need a MSW -compatible document. Oh, and once I dumped the entire suite, mu computer was running a lot faster. Good-bye MSOffice. As for the new version of Pages…love it! Much easier to use than the previous version!

    Rebeca Schiller
    http://www.rebecaschiller.com

    • Ms Hanson says:

      Hooray, another OfficeLibre adherent! After upgrading to an SSD, I declined to reinstall MSW, to see how far I could get with OfficeLibre, and I’ve never looked back.

      Will have to give the others listed a try, once NaNoWriMo is over…

      • Paolo says:

        The problem with Open/LibreOffice is that it is a MS clone. So, I don’t find them liberating as Pages, or the dedicated text writing apps do.

      • S. Gantress says:

        I agree with you. Libre office is far better than anything Microsoft can do. And if you’re really cheap you don’t need to donate either. Huzzah for free!
        I can easily shit and convert any document to whatever is needed by the publisher.
        p.s. I’ll never buy another computer with anything from Microsoft in it. Even the e-mails are ten times slower than Google.

  • I’ve fully jumped into the Google ecosystem, and Google Docs/Drive is the setup that works best for me. It’s great for writing, and for managing all my articles. Google Keep is also a great way to quickly type up notes to be used for later, on desktop or mobile.

    Because I’m a cultural and tech blogger I’m online more than I should be anyway; having a tab with Google Docs ready to go at all times is very convenient. My content consumption directly ties into my content creation, so being able to move back and forth between the two is important.

    Using an actual program, whether MSW or one of the ones you mentioned, means I’d be switching from Chrome to another program constantly – and that’s just a big annoyance. I may end up getting a Chromebook actually.

    MSW is on standby, I always have it there just in case. And it can sometimes be easier to snap MSW next to my browser, but this isn’t ideal on a 13inch screen.

    Great article.

    Mark-Anthony Smith
    http://www.entitledmillennial.com

  • janet says:

    After reading your article and the responses, I realize I don’t know anything about any of these tools. I’ve been blogging for close to two years. I use pen and paper sometimes because I love the feel of them and then type what I write into…gulp! Word, as that’s what I have with my laptop. Or I use Word directly. I have an iPad, but find it annoying for much writing as the “keyboard” can’t be used as a real one because I can’t rest my fingers on it and it’s too small and you have to switch screens for too many symbols. I’ll have to start taking the time to look into some of the things you’ve mentioned. Thanks!

    janet

  • Paula says:

    I have always used Microsoft Word for writing from the time I have learned how to type. Reading this article made me less of a noob. I am also an evernote junkie and I was recently looking for apps that I could use for writing when I am using android. This is such a big help. I will try your suggestions and I hope to get a free copy of your ebook. ( Pushing my luck )

  • Martina says:

    This is a hot post for me. Thank you – I appreciate all the tips and felt inspired (see Haikus below). I’d forgotten about the value of plain text apps for brain dumping when I feel inspired at the computer. Away from the computer, the pen and paper are always at hand.
    While I find MS Word quite frustrating, especially when the gargoyles invade – they seem to be able to sense looming deadlines, I do love some capabilities e.g. Synonyms.
    I “Will” try those apps that are new to me and will watch for future articles from you. Thanks for reading and responding to the feedback. Great job!

    Haikus – Hypotheses

    Writing in Plain Text
    Sparks your imagination
    Helps you work smarter

    The tide is turning
    Disable the quiet “noise”
    Ditch that monkey fast

    Invent in Plain Text
    Indulge the experience
    Inspire the write process

    Open the window
    Press your wonderful button
    Focus your writing

  • AvaBella says:

    I compose ALL my q & a’s in google docs for my blog. I even created the template for my features in it. It works great with blogger since its google based. I have also played with my templates in wix (thinking of mov just ng my blog there) it works beautifully there as well.

  • Bo says:

    Good article but it doesn’t mention the chief pull of MSW – autocorrect. So many people I know don’t even know their typing speed because the software corrects all their little typos.

    On the text editor front, consider Notepad++ its a very flexible editor built on Scintilla.

    • Will Moyer says:

      A lot of the text editors I mentioned — like ByWord, WriteMonkey, Q10 — have spellchecker. That’s not the same as autocorrect, but I’m not sure I’d trust an autocorrect service anyway.

      I loved Notepad++ when I was on Windows! It was my favorite. But I also used it for coding, writing HTML and CSS. For pure composition, I recommend text editors that are designed for specifically for writers.

  • Karen says:

    I’ve been using Libre Writer from Open Office, but I also use Google Docs (for portability from tablet to laptop and for collaborating with others). I’ve dabbled in Evernote, but I’m not sold on it yet. I’ll eye these others mentioned here, but I’m fairly content with Libre. (Except for outlining–Libre positively sucks at outlining).

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