What Software Are You Using to Write?

I am fascinated whenever I walk into a Barnes and Noble or a Starbucks. There are people cradling their technology everywhere.

Probably first and foremost, I see the Apple symbol everywhere. (Which is why I wrote this article earlier this year.) Ipads, Ipad Pro’s, Macbook’s of every kind and lots of iphones. 

After that, I see a smattering of other devices. More Dell laptops than anything else, and a ton of Samsung phones.

Really there seems to be only two sides on the actual operating system front.  Apple and Microsoft. I can’t tell you the last time I saw a Google laptop, and I sure don’t ever see a Linux box in the wild. 

Different machines have different purposes.  I still have my Alienware 17 for PC gaming. In fact, I was playing DnD 5.0 while writing this article.  (There was a long period of buying and selling because my group members are total hoarders.)  I do anything designer heavy on this one. Photography, Photoshop, any design (pfft, almost laughed writing that), crafting and such. 

I have my Macbook Air for writing, website browsing, traveling, paying bills and anything else I can squeeze out of it. 

Since I have machine in both ecosystems, I can list off some of the software I have found useful. 

First, before you write, figure out how you want to back up your work. It needs to be automatic. It needs to be in a different place than your machine.  It needs to be offsite.


Really, I can’t say it enough.

  • Scrivener is mentioned at every writing workshop I go to. I use it every day.   It works on my Windows machine, or my Macbook.  I back up on Dropbox moving files back and forth. Scrivener can be complicated, and I am sure I don’t use half of the options, but I love this program. It works on both Windows and Mac. I think the Mac version is more polished, but I used the Windows one for months with no issue.

 STOP THE PRESSES--- one of my main complaints about Scrivener has been not being able to pull up my books or articles on my ipad without exporting. A new announcement has shown up on their blog stating the ipad version will be out on July 20th.  I just wrote that in my planner, so I can buy that sucker immediately

  • Write or Die I use this everyday as well.  I put in how many words I want to write in a session.  I give myself a time limit, and I go.  It can tell you your wpm, it can give you a warning when you stop typing for too long, which is usually when I am thinking too hard and not actually writing, and it will let me use it on my ipad.  It’s windows or mac.  I do think the mac version is better.  Just my opinion having used both.

  • Word- You can use this on any machine you want to.  Tablet, phone, laptop, whatever. Use Onenote or Dropbox to back up your work.  Editors love to send work back and forth in Word because it’s universal and the Track changes features are so powerful.  I put my work for my critique group up in Word, and use the review features to compile comments.  Helps me see sections that more than one person had an issue with.  I still write most of my articles in Word.

  • Aeon Timeline  I use this for keeping track of events in a book/series.  It allows you to set up a literal timeline. In my Military Romances, I use it to keep track of simple data like who was born when, when they met, major life events and pregnancies (I try to get the date write, honest.)  In my fantasy books, I use it to keep track of the alternate universe I’ve created.  I have all kinds of events. I can color code, male/female, and side characters or events. It’s hugely helpful when editing a book. Just love it.

  • Excel- I use this for the business side of the house.  I keep track of my daily, weekly, monthly, yearly word count.  I keep a 12-month book for my expenses which my accountant loves.  I took a class from Mindy Klasky which came with some FABULOUS business spreadsheets.  They have helped me track my business plan, and see what I need to do for a potential book release months out.  If you need something plain speaking to help you get your business shipshape, please follow this link to Mindy’s book on Amazon. I get nothing for this other than knowing other people are going to be stepping up their careers due to her advice.

Before I go on to list other things out there, I just want to tell people, you don’t have to buy all this software at once. Most have demo’s. Also, when I moved to my Mac, I needed new licenses.  I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2015 and finished. I got codes for money off Scrivener and Aeon Timeline as I recall. It was massively helpful.  For writers on a budget, there is always more than one way to skin the cat you need to save (I might have read Save the cat recently, therefore cats are on the brain even though I am a dog person.)

Other things I have heard of, but not tried personally.

  • Typewriter-  Alright, fine, I am old enough to have used a typewriter. However, never as a writer.  There is an appeal to pressing the buttons and hearing the ding. I do not, however, miss correcting tape.

  • Ulysses- Mac only-This software got an Apple design award in 2016. I think for short things, it’s beautiful. I just need more oomph in my software when writing books. I miss details, forget character names, rearrange scenes.  While pretty, this just didn’t work for me. It can be used while mobile.

  • Storyist- Mac only-This has some great options, and I have seen other people mention this as a less complicated scrivener.  I think if I had found this before Scrivener, I would have been fine with it. Except, now it feels like Scrivener lite. That’s a personal preference thing, not a dig at the software itself.  If you are on a Mac, try it out. 

There are tons of other programs out there, these are just the ones I have used or demoed and laid aside for whatever reason. 

Writing is very personal. What software you use can become a habit because you are familiar with it, and it makes you feel safe.  You know you have written a book on XYZ, so that’s what you will use until you can’t. 

What software or solutions are you using for your writing? I am always trying to figure out what others are doing.  There is always something new and different out there.  Give me your list!  Please comment below. I can’t wait to hear from you.