What kind of writing app do you use?

If you answered, “duh, Word…” to the title of this post, you might just be missing out on being more productive in your writing. See, among writers (i.e. those of us who get paid to write things for you to read) there is a large (and growing) trend toward focused writing apps. I’m not just talking about apps like Writeroom which give you, essentially, a terminal version of an editor, I’m talking about apps that focus on the process of writing, the process of putting content together first and formatting second.

Interested now? Yeah, thought so, keep reading.

The appeal in a writing or writer’s app is the focus on only the things you need to do to get the words out. Little clutter, not much of a focus on formatting things, but more of a focus on gathering things for your project and organizing it. ?The magic Word shapes and drawing tools and how pictures wrap with text (and the havok that causes) is left for layout and publishing apps (or Word), you work on getting the words done and down first.

[side note, the paragraph above was originally at the end of this post, if I had been using Scrivener, and this were a whole section of a book or even a chapter, moving around would have been painless]

Myself I’m a hardcore user of Scrivener (Windows beta here), which might not be for everyone, but I love it. I do most of my writing in it. Sometimes I find it easier to jot a post here in this web-based editor or my favourite blog editor Blogo, but for anything that is going to need length or structure or depth, Scrivener is my tool of choice.

There are lots of other ways to attack the writing problem. Recently iA Writer has been making a splash on iOS and OS X and it’s part of an offshoot to the trend of writing apps: KISS.

Keep It Simple Stupid.

iA Writer, Notational Velocity Alt, OmmWriter and the like focus on simplicity, but still want to give you the ability to quickly add formatting to your text (usually through Markdown or MultiMarkdown) but still keep the focus on the writing part of the process.

See this is where Word went wrong. Word 5.1 was a great app, it was easy to use, not too heavy on resources and was a solid wordpressor, but then came Word 6.0 and it all went to … well “doo-doo.” Word became a “publishing tool” and not a “writing tool”. How many of you have lost hours fixing Word formatting issues? How many times have you fussed with getting a document looking right while trying to get it written in the first place?


This is why I use Scrivener. I just write stuff. Sure I put in bold and italics. I know what’s going to be a heading or chapter because of how I’ve organized the document structure (essentially each major section of the book is its own file). I don’t worry about formatting, because I do that last (yes, in Word, sadly). If you are working on a report, an article, or your first book, I suggest trying a “writing app”, not Word to start things off.

Give it a shot. Nope, these aren’t for everyone, but writing apps are getting popular for a reason.

Originally posted on the Future Shop Tech Blog.

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