Dane. Designer.

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Scrivener, WriteRoom vs. Word

Steven Poole—the author of amongst other things, Trigger Happy—has a great run down of the reasons he chose to switch from using Word for writing his books and articles. In the process, he swoons at great length over in particular WriteRoom and Scrivener, citing their simplicity, no-frills fullscreen modes and future-safe formats. All ‘minor’ details, that have also made me switch to using Scrivener for largely all my writing.

Lately I’ve been in need of something similar for Windows, strangely enough, to fill in some sparetime I have at work. But there somehow doesn’t seem to be quite the same market for ‘creative writing’ apps on Windows. I tried out Word 2007, and I must admit to finding it almost offensively obnoxious (whoever greenlit the background ‘reflection’, is hereby fired).

It makes me feel unappreciated to be honest.

But then, I’m also something of a formatting whore, and I honestly have problems starting up Word and just typing away; I can’t do it. The font is wrong, I’ve got to fix the line-height, would you look at those margins? Having finally come to terms with this illness of mine, I’ve faced the inevitable, and it is called Scrivener.

Now granted, for most of the fiction writing I’m fiddling with these days, any old text editor would probably do just fine. But since Scrivener has both a fantastic fullscreen mode (the only way to write!), and easy-to-use support for screenplay formatting, it’s pretty much a done deal for me.

Pages, in its current incarnation is a pretty damn good choice too. Start it up, collapse the toolbar, and it’s just a white page. Nice. And, it of course also comes with a screenplay template, because where the Word people think I need hundreds of ‘letter’ templates, what I really want is something to play with, I’ll figure the letter templates out myself, thank you very much

But, even with Scrivener, I do have a problem; moving between different computers and different OS’s is a damn hassle. All I really want, is a web-based Scrivener. I don’t think it would be a particularly hard application to create. At its most basic, Writer does the job, but I can’t defend having my work on someone else’s, potentially insecure server. Especially if I were to, at some point, write something work-related.

So, maybe worth spending some time on creating as an open source project?

Anyhoo, not that I’ve done much ‘serious’ writing as such, mostly just to satisfy my own curiosity. But I certainly understand what it feels like to discover the simplicity of something like WriteRoom. It’s like a revelation! How could I not have seen this before?! I start this thing, and then, I just write!

That’s the bottomline. Everything else is just in the way.

JournalMichael Heilemann