I enjoyed this essay from Sunday’s New York Time’s magazine, about options beyond Microsoft Word for writers. It’s definitely worth reading this short, amusing essay: An Interface of One’s Own
by Virginia Heffernan.
Here’s an excerpt:
Our redeemer is Scrivener, the independently produced word-processing program of the aspiring novelist Keith Blount, a Londoner who taught himself code and graphic design and marketing, just to create a software that jibes with the way writers think. As its name makes plain, Scrivener takes our side; it roots for the writer and not for the final product — the stubborn Word. The happy, broad-minded, process-friendly Scrivener software encourages note-taking and outlining and restructuring and promises all the exhilaration of a productive desk: “a ring-binder, a scrapbook, a corkboard, an outliner and text editor all rolled into one.”
Ring, scrap and cork sound like fun, a Montessori playroom. But read on — and download the free trial — and being a Scrivener-empowered scrivener comes to seem like life’s greatest role. Scriveners, unlike Word-slaves, have florid psychologies, esoteric requirements and arcane desires. They’re artists. They’re historians. With needs. Scrivener is “aimed at writers of all kinds — novelists, journalists, academics, screenwriters, playwrights — who need to refer to various research documents and have access to different organizational tools whilst aiming to create a finished piece of text.”
That “whilst”! It alone makes me feel like writing.
Scrivener, then, is one of us, at home in the writer’s jumpy emotional and procedural universe. Consider its desktop icon. It greets you without Word’s back-slanted, subliterate “W” — speeding nervously to the finish line — but with an open-minded yin-yang adorned with quotation marks. Unlike so many twerpy little applications, the Scrivener icon eschews that ubiquitous Curaçao blue. Neither is it slightly rounded like some squishy teething toy. Instead, it shines and stands upright like a domino, which makes you think of a brisk “click” instead of a software “blurp.” It’s also black and white, like words on a page.
To create art, you need peace and quiet. Not only does Scrivener save like a maniac so you needn’t bother, you also get to drop the curtain on life’s prosaic demands with a feature that makes its users swoon: full screen. When you’re working on a Scrivener opus, you’re not surrounded by teetering stacks of Firefox windows showing old Google searches or Citibank reports of suspicious activity. Life’s daily cares slip into the shadows. What emerges instead is one pristine and welcoming scroll: Your clean and focused mind.
Microsoft Word is so ingrained in my work/ writing habits, it’s difficult to even consider switching. But reading this article really got me thinking about checking out Scrivener. Do any of you use Scrivener or are there alternative word processing programs you’d recommend trying? I’d love to hear from you.