Why I Still Use Microsoft Word to Write My Novels

I downloaded Scrivener back in 2013, after I won my second year of NaNoWriMo. I thought it was an amazing tool that would multiply my writing productivity and cut out the distractions. I am very good at learning new programs and this was no exception. At first, I was completely in love with the new system. I think I still am, in a way, because I keep it on my computer even though deleting it would definitely free up a lot of space on my hard drive.

I had finished drafting Tears of an Angel (originally the sequel to The Belgrave Daughter and second book of The Belgrave Legacy back when it was going to be a trilogy) and was revising the first “book” all in Microsoft Word in a specially formatted file for a CreateSpace paperback and was unwilling to transfer all my writing into the new software. But I did put the partial beginning I had to my Cinderella retelling Shattered Glass (then called Glowing Embers) into Scrivener’s novel template and began fiddling around. But I didn’t really like the layout, and the organizing system didn’t compensate for me.

There are many people who hate Word for drafting novels with a burning passion. Lots of self-publishing experts and gurus who I follow hold this opinion. Here’s a brief list of what comes up on the first page of a Google Search for “Word vs Scrivener” and a lot of them are scathing:

And maybe I should give Scrivener another chance soon, but as I can now format my own paperbacks and eBooks in Word, converting the former into PDF through Word’s export feature and the latter into multiple formats through Calibre (which is fast becoming my favorite self-publishing tool).

I’ve been using Word since 2003, and maybe it is that familiarity that makes me love the program so much. I love that it looks like a document, that I can see many pages at once when reviewing for formatting, and that though some call the menus tiresome, they are thorough and well-labeled. And, for the few occasions I don’t know where something is, I use the help menu and just search what I want to do. Most times, it pulls open the menus I need just like in Photoshop, and sometimes it is necessary to go to the Office Help site. I like that I have the power to control margins, fonts, all formatting, and that what I see is what I get as I’m writing my novels (I usually use this so that I can be sure to not have any widow words).

And though Derek Murphy says that Scrivener is good for writing, he agrees with me that for formatting, it kind of sucks in his blog post “Should I Use Scrivener to Format My Book?” In his “134 publishing questions answered,” Derek’s #1 answer is that while Scrivener is cool, if you can write in a Word document, you should (with a few caveats).

If you’re still on the fence about whether Word or Scrivener is the best software for you, then you can take a look at the infographic I made and make your own decision. If you have already made your decision, please sound off in the comments below with which one you use and why. It might help others reading this make up their mind.

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