Too Many (or maybe not enough) Word Processors

by Randy Murray on July 19, 2011

I use Microsoft Word because my clients request it. And frankly, I’ve used it for so many years that even with the bloat I find many features, like Tracking Changes, really useful.

I use Open Office because at least one other client uses it. But it’s a real slug and I avoid it for all other uses.

I use Final Draft because it’s well-designed for screenplays and play scripts (and it’s what’s expected by the industry).

And now I’m seriously considering using Scrivener to write creative work, like novels and short stories. Before I used an obscure but efficient little package called Jers Novel Writer for the same task (and might again).

Add to that Notational Velocity (actually nvALT), in which I’m drafting this piece and TextWrangler that I occasionally use as an offline editor for online forms (like WordPress) and even Apple’s excellent TextEdit at times.

I don’t consider Pages a word processor – I use it mainly for layout or formatting.

Not exactly minimal in number, but it is exactly the right and minimal set of tools for my craft of writing.

A painter doesn’t have just one brush. The carpenter has screwdrivers, chisels, and similar tools of every shape and size. As a writer I could make one tool do everything, but I prefer to let the tools do the heavy lifting while I expend the minimal amount of effort to achieve the best result.

And at times, I fill up a notebook or perhaps a yellow legal pad. It’s not a bad way to work, creating a first draft with pen and paper, feeling the weight of my work grow, seeing the stack before me, and then reworking, rewriting, as I type it into its proper digital receptacle.

My friend Aaron Mahnke stated the other day that I “bled words.” I replied to him that I bled ink. But ink is not words. And words take work. But it’s work that I love — somedays more than others. That’s why I need the right tools for the task and I always have an eye out for something that might make the job a little easier.

Yes, there’s work in writing. Don’t be afraid to take up the tool that best suits the work before you.

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  • How Many Tools Do You Need? | MichaelSchechter.Me August 14, 2011

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