For all the years I’ve been writing—or wanting to write—and been on the web I’ve looked for software that might help me write better. I mean that exactly as it reads. I never purchased any of the gimmicky apps which purported to help you write a novel or a screenplay, but I did download and try the demos. I knew intuitively that software wouldn’t elevate my writing, but I hoped it might inspire me to write more. None of what I found did. Nearly every application I found wanted me to plug in the details of my characters: height, weight, eye color, and goals—like the first three mattered and like I knew the last. If I knew my characters’ goals I wouldn’t need your software. When I could fake a goal or when I just loremipsummed one up the results were nothing more than an mishmash of words I could have just as easily written on Post-it notes and then stuck around my monitor. A messy electronic mirror of my messy organic brain.
Along the way I ran into program which made more sense to me as a writer. Programs which help organize the pages and chapters and books. Sometimes these would also manage the submissions as well. YWriter stands prominently in my memory for that. I recognized the value of doing these things, but I didn’t see much value in these apps either because I could do all the organizing I needed with MS Word—for awhile WordPerfect—and a good directory structure. Considering how quickly I write, tracking submissions wasn’t a priority. The interfaces on these apps were an act of love not an act of UX.
Eventually I heard of Scrivener, and that it was for the Mac. I could look at screenshots, I could read reviews and raves, but I couldn’t touch it. Undeterred, I google “like scrivener for windows” every quarter or so. That search invariably coughed up BinderX or whatever that braindump mess is called. So many people seem to like that tool that it worries me I’ve not got the correct brain for it. But given what little I imagine is true about working writers I can’t see how any of them would stand for what comes across to me as a shoe box for postcards, a notepad, and a stubby pencil.
More recently I have found Q10, WriteMonkey, and Celtx. Q10 was great except it isn’t being actively developed. I use WriteMonkey daily and don’t recall why I hesitated dropping Q10 at the time. Celtx does its thing well, but, as much as I want to like it and want to need it, I just kinda like it and don’t really need it at all. As good as Scrivener for Windows is looking I doubt I’ll drop the pure black screen of WriteMonkey for Scrivener’s black text on white or other paper. I’ll copy and paste.
This beta version of Scrivener for Windows is tight so far. I’ve only run into one glitch; anything else I may have found clunky or odd can be attributed to having been born of Mac thinking or just developer style—I think. The interface is sleek and usable. The icons feel good. This is clearly professional software and I’ll consider spending money on it when that time comes.
As a developer I really like the idea that the software I use is aware of the related files I may need quick access to while working. The Binder pane comforts me, but it also confuses me. I understand how it works and what it does; I don’t know how I’ll employ it in the context of writing. When it comes to writing I’m not sure I need to have all writings located in well organized places. Looking back on my writing I can see where I would retro-organize what I already have written, but I don’t think I would have done that much organizing ahead of the writing.
Yesterday I wrote elsewhere.
513 words on day 571