Being a new writer can be intimidating. There’s so much to learn and so many ways to go take the wrong path. Ideally, the question of which software you use to write wouldn’t be a tough question, but its one that crops up all over the place. Today I’m going to focus on a question I see everywhere.
“Should I use Scrivener or Word to do my writing?”
The answer may surprise you.
Or not. It’s Word. It’s 100% Word. Don’t use Scrivener.
Still, I need to bang out an article, so let me break it down for you.
1. Editing and formatting your document
Scrivener makes is stupid easy to move blocks of text around in your manuscript. You know that scene you wrote where the aliens discover that ice cream melts in hot water?
Maybe that scene works better in the middle of the book as opposed to the ending. Because Scrivener allows you to easily break everything into chapters, sections, notes and so on, it’s very simple to pick up and drop entire blocks of text. You can move chapters around in seconds.
Word is just one big clunky document that makes moving blocks of text around difficult.
Reason: 100% of the places you submit your writing to will require it in .doc format. The Word conversion engine in Scrivener is a monstrous piece of shit that will destroy your life and your manuscript.
2. Working on multiple documents
Scrivener has a ton of features that allow you quickly switch between projects. What’s more, it has built in tools that let you drag and drop your sections easily between books. It’s great!
Word is a very linear process, that forces you to write the book as it unfolds. You can open multiple documents at the same time, however Alt+tabbing between the two can be a pain. Clearly, Scrivener is superior in this regard.
Reason: If you are serious about submitting your writing professionally, you will need it in .doc format. The scrivener conversion to .doc is horrific. It’s like the reboot of Nightmare on Elm Street. Pointless, loud and ultimately leaves you feeling dirty.
Scrivener is cheap, at about $50. What’s more, it’s a one-time cost. Compare that to Word, which requires an annual subscription, and it’s about $100 a year! Fuckers!
Obviously Scrivener wins in this case, right?
Reason: Anytime you’re starting to query or submit your work to any publisher, they will ask to see your materials in .doc format. I’m not sure if you’ve heard this, but Scrivener doesn’t handle the .doc conversion very well. In fact, you might say that it literally ruins entire marriages – even if you were never married to begin with.
4. Word Count
My favorite, favorite feature in Scrivener is the word counts and targets. Not only can you quickly see your overall word count, you can also see it by section so you know how long your chapters are.
It also has a wonderful feature that allows you to track both your novel’s progress and set daily / session targets for yourself.
Word lets you see overall word counts, but that’s about it. Scrivener is the clear winner in this category. It’s honestly no contest and there should be no disagreement about the superior software.
Reason: I’m not sure if you’re picking up on a theme here, but have you heard that literally every single publisher, agent, magazine, website, short story collection and writing contest will ask to see your work in .doc format? Have you also heard that when you convert Scrivener documents to Word, every butterfly within a two mile radius dies?
Scrivener does many things. Word also does many things.
So there you have it. In virtually every single category you can think of, Word manages to be the superior software to Scrivener. Hope this helps in your writing journey!
If anyone from Scrivener ever reads this – holy moly guys. FIX YOUR CONVERSION TOOL. How do you not do this properly? HOW? Why does every single chapter export as a single document? Why does half my formatting vanish? Why do I have to go through and re-mark up my whole document? Why isn’t there a literal one-click button to perform this function?
All joking aside, I really love working in Scrivner, but I end up losing dozens of hours reformatting my work to get it to look right in Word.
For a long while I was writing my drafts in Scrivner, converting over a weekend and then finishing in Word, but I ended up resenting the time loss. It’s so pointless.