I can remember the first thing I ever wrote, a short story of abuse set in an elderly care home called ‘Granny Farming in the UK’. It was inspired by a Carter USM B-Side, and was written the old fashioned way, on paper with a pen. It was the last time that would ever happen. I can’t really remember what the next thing I wrote was, but I know one thing, it was written in Microsoft Word. When I first started writing it was roughly around the time that my school started getting these big old boxes delivered into classrooms called computers. IT became a new subject and I was introduced to Word, the writing software that would become my default word processor for the decades to come, save for those occasions where I had to resort to Open Office, itself a poor cousin of the Microsoft behemoth.
Word is a pain in the arse, quite frankly. I know a lot of my fellow writers still love it, but it drives me up the wall, especially if you try and write a novel in a single document. Every time you open it it goes straight back to the top of the document, meaning you have to scroll through a couple of hundred of pages to get to the end. Formatting is a nightmare; if you try working on a few different computers and collate your work into one document you’ll find all kinds of inconsistencies (my book is littered with different ‘ marks, for instance). Maybe it’s better than I think and I’ve just been using it like a dumbass (not entirely outside the realms of possibility) but it drives me nuts.
Recently I’ve been hearing a lot about another way to go; Scrivener. As I’ve been delving more into the world of self-publishing (more on that another time) I’ve been hearing a lot of authors talking about this magical platform that makes writing easier and allows you to export your book into e-book formats. I watched a ten minute video on it and was hooked. I’ve been using it for four days now (there’s a 30 day free trial) and while I initially lost a day setting the novel up in the new format (and it really is a completely different experience) it’s already paying massive dividends.
Rather than a single document to work with I now have a project, which splits each chapter down individually or allows you to work on the whole document, but also allows you to gather research materials, character profiles and anything else that you want into the project, This has been an absolute lifesaver as I’ve been going through the editing process. Now each chapter has an easy synopsis so that I can navigate it easily, plus its own notes section that can hold all the things I want to change about it in the next draft.
So now I’m back on track, and using a new piece of software that actually feels like it’s designed with writers in mind. How novel.