Writing Wednesdays: What program should you use to write?

What program do you use to write? In this post I share what I think is the best program to write your story.

To some people, this might sound like clickbait, or a redundant article – but it’s something I’m asked about a lot. It’s in the same vein as questions like ‘What font did you print your books in when you published them?’ and ‘What kind of notebook do I need to be a writer?’ (genuinely things I’ve been asked multiple times).

But there are no stupid questions, and this blog series is to help writers – especially new and young writers – which is exactly why I wanted to answer it properly.

Look, there’s no right answer to this question.

Some people have written entire novels on their phone, in an app like Notes – some have even had that same novel they wrote on their phone published traditionally.

So there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using an app to write your story (bonus points if it’s something free, and even better if it syncs across all your devices like Notes does).

If you’re publishing online, you might be able to download an app for the platform and write within that. I know this is something you can do on Wattpad – and if you save it in your drafts on the app, you can pick it back up on your desktop, or whatever. (I swear, they don’t pay me to keep promoting them in this blog series – it’s just a really awesome platform.)

One program I do like using for my writing is Trello. You can basically create separate projects, and lists within each project. It’s pretty easy to figure out if you take a look (easier than me trying to explain it, I promise) and it’s also free. It’s available via the website and as an app, so you can pick it up wherever.

Trello isn’t so useful for the actual writing, but it’s what I’m going to call a ‘support tool’.

For instance, I was working on a fanfic (it’s like a mob/undercover cop kind of thing, because I’m a sucker for that trope) and I was trying to work out a couple of plot points and which ‘teams’ the characters would be on, so I made lists for each ‘team’ and the plot, and then organised the story that way. It made it easy to keep track of things.

I do prefer using a notebook to keep track of notes, but Trello is a really great tool I can’t get enough of.

But let’s get back to the question at hand: what program should you use to write your story?

Let’s face it – I’m not an expert here. A while back I wrote this post on free tools you can use to write, and I tried a couple out. I Googled, looked around, gave a few a try.

But the program I’ll swear by is Microsoft Word.

Or Word-alternatives. You know, like Google Docs. That’s basically the same thing, and all you’ll need is a Gmail account to sign in, whereas you need to buy like a subscription for Word.

I know that actually a lot of universities and colleges offer free access to the Microsoft programs, so it’s definitely worth checking out if that’s an option for you, if you want to use Microsoft Word.

I asked around on Twitter with some other writers to see what program they use, and the answers were all the same: Word, Word, Word.

(I’ll talk about Word now, but it should cover Google Docs too.)

With Word, you’ve got all the formatting you’ll need. And you might also like to check out this post on how to formatyour manuscript.

It’s also probably the easiest thing to use if you do want to send your manuscript off because you’re trying to get published. You won’t have any silly formatting issues from copying and pasting it off a website, and literary agents and publishers all use Word.

It’s also really handy because you can use tracked changes – so when your editor makes edits, you can see exactly what they’ve done, and when you send it back, you can see exactly what they’ve done.

In all honesty, I don’t see the point in beating around the bush and trying to tell you about all these incredible programs that are available to you as a writer where you should be writing your story, because I only use Word, and I swear by it, as do so many other writers I know. It’s the most straightforward, easy, and convenient option.

Just for God’s sake remember to make backups on memory sticks and external hard drives – hell, even email it to yourself! Just HAVE. BACKUPS.

What do you think? Is Word/Docs the best thing ever, or do you have a different program you prefer using to write? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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