The biggest problem writers face is not writing. I can't tell you how many writers and authors I know that do not write on a weekly basis. I'd say daily, but I think that's unreasonable for the vast majority of aspiring, new and existing writers and authors. I don't write every day, but I do write most days. This is called having reasonable expectations.
Open Your Word Processor
The first step to writing is opening your word processor or paper notebook. I understand this is common sense, but I'm seeking to answer the question of which one you should open in order to best meet your writing needs. Of course, if you opened a paper notebook, don't forget your pen. If you're opening a word processor, do you want one that only works on your desktop? Do you want a multi-platform word processor that works on every device you have? Do you want to use writing software that's specifically designed for writing fiction? If you don't know, let's look at the available word processors and writing programs available.
Paper and Pens
Some writers prefer paper and pens, and I sometimes also prefer to write everything out by hand first. It depends on the novel, but I've found that some novels just don't want to be written on a computer screen. Conversely, some novels don't want to be written on paper. Therefore, if you are having trouble writing your novel, switch methods.
Choosing a paper notebook is one of the simplest ways to start a novel. You just grab a notebook and pen and start writing. There's no trick to it. As you write, your pen will ensure that your words flow onto the page. If it doesn't, get a new pen. You're probably out of ink. When I write using a paper notebook, I typically choose a notebook with a hardcover. If you need a notebook that is specifically for writing novels, you can check out my Write Your Novel Notebook, which is available on Amazon.
Hint: Don't choose a notebook that you deem too pretty to write in, or if you do happen to buy a really nice notebook, buy several of them so you don't feel like you're wasting the pages on a first draft when you could be writing something presumably better or more inspiring.
A newer type of notebook is the reusable notebook. These notebooks are not comprised of paper. Instead, they use a whiteboard-like material that you can write on with the Pilot Frixion pen or another similar type of pen. If you choose a Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook, it uses the Frixion pen and wipes clean with a microfiber cloth. There are also other types of reusable notebooks that you microwave to make the pages blank again. While Rocketbook is probably the most well-known brand of reusable notebooks, you can also find reusable notebooks from Kystore, NEWYES, ParKoo and Folgtek.
There are several software companies that put out word processors that are either stand-alone as desktop or laptop software or based online for use with multiple devices. When I'm writing the initial drafts of my books, I prefer multi-platform word processors or writing software that is multi-platform. However, when it's time to edit, I prefer the word processor that's located solely on my computer.
Desktop/Laptop Word Processors
- Calligra Author - Lesser well-known word processor, works on Linux, Mac, FreeBSD and Windows. This has a somewhat complicated interface. It's not laid out like other word processing programs in the fact that some of the formatting is located in a box to the right of the document, which can make this word processor a little confusing in the beginning.
- LibreOffice - Works on Windows. MAC and Linux (This is what I use). Full office suite
- Microsoft Word - Most well-known word processing program, works on Windows Computers, Latops, Tablets and Phones. The bad news is that it’s pricey and very difficult to find a stand-alone version of anything other than Office 365. Prices range from $69.99 to 149.99. Only works on Windows devices.
- Open Office - Similar to LibreOffice, Works on Windows, OSX and Linux. Full office suite.
- WPS Office - Full office suite with a PDF editor. Works with Windows, Andriod, Linux, Mac and iOS. Since it is a full office suite, it can take a long time to download.
Online Word Processors
All of these word processors are web-based, meaning they will work on any device you own that has a web browser.
- Word Online - A great choice if you like Microsoft products and have Windows devices. I found it to be slow and laggy.
- Google Docs - Probably the most popular online word processor. Lags on documents with 100,000 or more words. Unusable at 200k words.
- Dropbox Paper - Brand new word processing option. I found it to be slow and clunky. Not to mention, it doesn't really work well with Linux anymore to spite being based online and recommended for use with Linux. I tested it both on my desktop and on my phone. I was displeased with both, but you may like it.
Fiction Writing Software Single Platform and Mutli-Platform
- Bibisco - Free and Paid Versions, Works on Windows and Linux. Single-platform, saves to local drive
- FastPencil - Free and paid versions. Paid versions range from $499 to $2,997. This is both a writing and editing tool and a publishing platform.
- Novelize - $45 a year, saves to server, multi-platform and cross-platform compatible. Works best with larger screens but can be used on tablets and phones. Offers a 17-day free trial.
- Reedsy Book Editor - Free novel writing software. It is based online, saves to Google, completely cross-platform compatible. Multi-device compatible.
- Scrivener - Single platform, works with Windows, iOS and MAC, saves to local drive. No free version. $49 MAC, $45 Windows, $19.99 iOS.
- WaveMaker Cards - Free writing software, works on any device with an Internet browser. Saves to Google
- Writer Tools - Free and paid versions. You cannot download your novel unless you have the paid version. Pro version is $4.99 a month. It is cross-platform, and there is a Google Play App.
- yWriter - Works with Windows, MAC, Android and iOS. yWriter 6 is currently the stable version. yWriter 7 is in beta as of the writing of this book. The Windows and MAC versions are free. Android version is $5. iOS is $4.99
Which Writing Software Is Best for You?
The writing software that is best for you is dependent on your budget and whether or not you regularly switch between devices when writing a story. If you prefer a multi-platform standard word processor, Google Docs or Word online will meet your needs. If you only work on one device, like a laptop or desktop computer, you may like Bibisco or yWriter. If you don't mind paying a little bit for a dedicated fiction writing program, I'd recommend Novelize or yWriter. The good news is that since most of these are free or offer a free trial, you can try most of them in order to determine which works best for you.
Read More on Drafting Your Novel
- The Minimalist’s Way to Start a First Draft ...
- Best Approaches to Start a Second Draft ...
- Writing the Third Draft of a Fiction Novel ...
- How to Write the Fourth Draft of a Fiction Novel ...
- How to Write the Fifth and Final Draft of a Novel ...
- How Many Drafts Should You Put on a Fiction Novel? ...
This is the no-fluff, serious writer's guide to getting your novel started, edited and finished.
The five draft method is designed to help you reduce your chances of over-editing, which can stall your writing process and cause you to either never deem your novel finished or ruin it in any number of ways, including inputting too many slow sections, taking out all the interesting details and doing too much ‘showing’ versus ‘telling’.
In this writer's self-help book, you will learn how to write your first draft and revise your manuscript to the point where it's ready for self-publication or submission to agents and/or publishers.