Churtward's picture
Churtward from Gainesville, VA is reading Play It As It Lays February 21, 2014 - 4:42pm

Do you guys use microsoft word? write by hand? scrivener? typewriter? 

In what way do you use to get your writing done benefit you? 

Hemingway said he writes the first couple drafts by hand cause then he gets a more careful look at his prose before he writes it on a typewriter. 

What about you guys? 


Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal February 21, 2014 - 4:46pm

gotta type it, nothing else i could do goes nearly fast enough.  except talking, i guess, but even speaking notes into my phone is too weird.

Churtward's picture
Churtward from Gainesville, VA is reading Play It As It Lays February 21, 2014 - 4:57pm

You don't use a special program? 

I know some folks use scrivener but I never used it. Just always used microsoft word. 

To anyone that uses scrivener, how does it help you as opposed to using microsoft word? 

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore February 21, 2014 - 5:23pm

I'm a Scrivener junkie. Mainly I like having everying in one interface a single click away without a bunch of overlapping windows—most of it visible simultaneously—whether it's the ms itself, research, notecards, tags and labels, keywords, etc. It's got a wordcount target gas gauge, plus snapshots and rollbacks for keeping track of draft edits. The fullscreen blackout's nice when you just wanna focus on the ms. And it's cake to export Kindles and EPUBs directly once you're ready.

There's at least a couple of threads about this on here somewhere …

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami February 21, 2014 - 5:32pm

I use FocusWriter, after I've outlined by hand chapter by chapter. But I need to have that computer desktop blocked so I can concentrate. No I don't do the built in timer, that just defeats the purpose of not editing as you go.

OtterMan's picture
OtterMan from New Jersey, near Philadelphia USA is reading Ringworlds Children February 21, 2014 - 5:36pm

I generally use notepad just plain text. Sometime MS Word if I want to use spell check or play with the font.

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers February 21, 2014 - 6:32pm

I've been getting back to basics lately. 

You know, cave paintings. I need more blackberry for my fuscia. Mix that stuff with banana, vibrant.


In all seriousness, I use Scrivener, though not as fluently as Gordon. Doesn't matter, you'll never use more of it than you need, and man, there's a lot there for a $45 program, more than you'll ever need. Good to know it's there though. 


MattF's picture
MattF from Tokyo is reading Borges' Collected Fictions February 21, 2014 - 7:00pm

Scrivener also, but pared to almost nothing. I use the full-screen blackout/compose feature Gordon mentioned, and I like the ability to section a manuscript and put it back together easily. None of the other features have stuck with me, but those two are essential.

I also write by hand a lot. At home I've quit using notebooks and have a tray stacked with re-purposed paper--a subtle shift, but I think it gives the mind a bit more freedom. When I go out I've switched from notebooks to unlined artist sketchbooks. I prefer writing by hand in public places, cafes, etc.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer February 22, 2014 - 7:14am

I use an Alphasmart NEO 2 word processor and then port it in to Microsoft Word when its finished. It doesn't connect to the internet or do anything other than typing. It also runs forever on three AA batteries. I've replaced the batteries twice in two years and I still don't think it was in any danger of dying. I would highly recommend it but Alphasmart has discontinued the line. You would have to get one used. I've considered buying a couple to keep in storage in case my current one goes down.

I know a lot of people who use Scrivner and swear by it. For screenwriting, I used Celtx. It is cheaper than Scrivner and exports into all of the needed file systems. For years and years, I used nothing but Microsoft Word. I've never really needed much else.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami February 22, 2014 - 11:38am

I actually have real bad eye strain that keep me from using regular black text white screen. So I generally switch the background to black, and make the text green.

Alan H Jordan's picture
Alan H Jordan from Reno, Nevada is reading "The Whisper Jar" and "The World Beneath" February 22, 2014 - 8:32pm

I use Microsoft Word 2010, 2013 (depending upon the computer) and sometimes I do a card deck using PowerPoint. I tend to save the files to 

I like 2010 and 2013's search features, which are much better than previous versions. I also like the ability to post and read comments and to take comments that reviews have input into LBLs.

There are also times when I enable the text-to-speech feature and listen to the words being read back by a computerized voice. I find mistakes I could not find otherwise.

Some of my planning is done with index cards and with a tablet, pen and pencil.


Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb February 23, 2014 - 4:07pm

Microsoft Word 2007. I only bother updating whenever I get a new laptop, and the one I'm on right now is still going after all these years.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated February 23, 2014 - 7:37pm

Word 2007 Enterprise edition for long projects, Notepad when I'm just putting a few ideas down, and by hand when I get in the mode away from the computer.

Linda's picture
Linda from Sweden is reading Fearful Symmetries February 24, 2014 - 2:47am

I love Scrivener, but it inexplicably ate one of my projects recently and now I have trust issues. 

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts February 24, 2014 - 6:42am

I use Scrivener mostly & check the formatting in Open Office & MS Word Starter. If it's something I'm gonna get done in an hour or so I might just use Open Office. In Scrivener I do the green text on black screen, first just to feel a retro DOS vibe but actually it's really nice if you write at night. I don't know how to use the snapshots.

I used Celtx in the past for scripting of various formats, it's a nice workflow & cheap as chips if screen/comic is your main mode.

I write by hand a lot when I'm in unproductive slumps. Double thick yellow legal pads & these Pilot Precision V5 pens. The V5s are smooth & almost splattery. I used to use Microns but the sound of the felt tips made my teeth feel fuzzy.

SConley's picture
SConley from Texas is reading Coin Locker Babies February 25, 2014 - 10:35am

I write on my ass.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig February 25, 2014 - 11:11am

I type, I use Word. I used to handwrite all my first drafts, but I slowly weaned off of that, as it's more efficient to work this way. When I am at a point where in-depth revisions are needed, I do print out and retype. On occasion I write by hand, but usually not very big chunks.

Adam Birch's picture
Adam Birch from all over, currently North SF Bay Area is reading Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon February 25, 2014 - 8:14pm

I've been using Google Docs but man, I'm just tired of fighting with it. I'm thinking about updating to Scrivener, especially since buying Word would cost me way more anyway. Not sure how useful I will find Scrivener, but hopefully formatting isn't nearly as clunky as Google Docs. Nothing drives me crazier than Docs trying to anticipate what I want it to do, and it being wrong, right when I am in the groove. I hate stopping for two minutes to get it back to formatting the way I want it.

Tim Johnson's picture
Tim Johnson from Rockville, MD is reading Notes From a Necrophobe by T.C. Armstrong February 26, 2014 - 6:46pm

Word. Two reasons:

1). It's the standard, and as a result, you really should take a .doc actually into Word to check it before you send it to anyone who will, most likely, open it in Word. I'm a firm believer in this. If you're a writer who's serious about your profession, you better have Word so you can at least see what the person you're sending your work to is seeing.

2). As a writer, one of the biggest reasons not to use Word is because it's a stupidly overpowered program for our needs, but my version of Word (not sure exactly which ones have this feature) enables me to literally put a white page on a black background that fills the entire screen. Can't get much simpler than that.

I could easily fall down a rabbit hole of trying out other programs (I'm a tinkerer; I'm always adjusting the driver's seat in my car), and it would suck the efficacy out of trying to optimize my productivity.

Dmcleod's picture
Dmcleod from Florida is reading Molloy February 26, 2014 - 7:25pm

I use old ass Word 2003. But, I just downloaded a trial of Scrivener for windows and I'm thinking of buying it just for the black background/green font option. So much easier to write in the dark that way.

Matt L.'s picture
Matt L. from Texas is reading Tenth of December: Stories February 26, 2014 - 8:08pm

When writing something for work--anything from tweet's length to <3,000 words--I use Microsoft Word. Mostly for the reasons already mentioned. Compatibility is king and my editors know how to use track changes to make both our lives easier.

Personal projects: I wrote my first novel using a little freeware program called Jer's Novel Writer. I think it's only available for Mac and it is not longer updated by the developer but it is a complete, albeit simple, program. There is little distract you, it incorporates margin notes and has a handy pop-out "drawer" where you can keep notes, see a chapter outline, etc. I loved working in it but found that it's not the best exporter when it comes time to put your document in a more universal format. I spent a lot of time manually tweaking things, and it turned out fine, but I'd rather not do that again.

Now I am hopping on the Scrivener bandwagon. I'm about two weeks into my trial period and doubt I will use 90 percent of the features but I am liking it.

As for my notes, everything goes to Evernote. Easy to organize and I can access the notes on every device I own. I end up taking the majority of my notes on my phone and then fleshing them out further once I am in front of a full keyboard. My only concern is that I have had notes disappear from Evernote (though it is extremely rare). I've started copy/pasting notes from Evernote to scrivener for redundancy because of this.

First novel the process went like this:

  1. Notes in Evernote.
  2. Rough draft in notes drawer of Jer's - key dialogue, outline of events, etc. Often I ended up writing a complete draft of the chapter in the notes drawer. I felt more free doing that than putting it right into body of my manuscript.
  3. Rewrite from notes drawer to manuscript.
  4. Edit.
  5. Move on.
KinnicSwan's picture
KinnicSwan from River Falls, WI is reading Blues For Mister Charlie by James Baldwin June 25, 2014 - 4:54am

I do all of my writing on either my vintage Olivetti typewriter or my Windows 8.1 machine.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami August 20, 2014 - 3:37pm

I generally write by hand first, then transcribe it to a journal. Then to focus writer, then to the regular word processor.

D.R.Parker's picture
D.R.Parker from Ogden, Utah is reading Finders Keepers August 20, 2014 - 12:24pm

When using a Mac, I like Scrivener.  Story Mill would be my second choice to use on a Mac.  On a PC I like to use PageFour. If you use a PC and want something that is simple to use, StoryBlue is good. It is as bare bones as it gets. I have not used a Linux machine, but I think Scrivener may work. 

TomMartinArt's picture
TomMartinArt from Amherst, MA August 20, 2014 - 3:11pm

Google docs. I'm not fancy. 

Aud Fontaine's picture
Aud Fontaine from the mountains is reading Catch-22. Since like, always. August 20, 2014 - 3:48pm

I honestly didn't even know there was an alternative to Docs. I would be lost without my Drive. Trust in the Cloud. Praise be to Google.

Also, Spotify. I count it as something I write on because at this point I'm not sure I can even open Drive without opening it too. Praise be to Free Music. 

It might be worth mentioning that I use a Chromebook so my options are limited anyway. But Chromebook or no Chromebook, I've been on Docs since high school. If I could remember my email and password I could probably find my gum company business plan from Entrepreneurship.

TomMartinArt's picture
TomMartinArt from Amherst, MA August 21, 2014 - 9:38pm

Just looked up Scrivener. Yeahhh, I need this, or something like it.

Delete Me's picture
Delete Me August 28, 2014 - 9:24pm

I do a vomit draft with paper and pen then type it all into Scrivener. I used to only use Google Docs. Now I save my Scrivener file in my Google Drive folder so it updates whatever device I use.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated August 30, 2014 - 1:33am

A4 hardback notebook and then Microsoft Word via laptop. I have experimented with writing packages but they have never felt comfortable. Weirdly the main issue I have is the pen used to write, has to be a rollerball so I can switch to doodling quite happily lol.

S.B. Smith's picture
S.B. Smith from Indianapolis, IN is reading Mongrels August 31, 2014 - 9:55pm

I've been using Focuswriter. Pretty basic, but I am enjoying it. I may look into Scrivener though. I've got something in the works that requires some world building and I think some of the added toys and options may be helpful.

Deets999's picture
Deets999 from Connecticut is reading Adjustment Day September 5, 2014 - 12:20pm

Longhand. Then Word.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami September 5, 2014 - 1:39pm

I've recently had to switch the colors, as green text and black background was getting boring. Though I might switch it soon.

I mainly had that color scheme for Sf and Fantasy.

Liam Soutar's picture
Liam Soutar from Manchester, England is reading All The Pretty Horses September 5, 2014 - 5:03pm

I use Scrivener, but I've got a drawer full of notes that have been scribbled down on the back of receipt paper whenever I've thought of an idea whilst at work. 

MattF's picture
MattF from Tokyo is reading Borges' Collected Fictions September 21, 2014 - 2:05am

I write everything longhand on wholesale sexy lingerie as well. I'm currently wearing my first novel around to agents. I'll admit it's not going as well as I'd hoped.