First, a disclaimer. I’m not getting paid to promote this software. That would be nice, but unrealistic. Nor was I asked to promote this software. I’m merely doing so because these are programs that I’ve found extraordinarily useful and I wanted to tell you about them in case you’ve ever wondered, “Is there something better than Microsoft Word to write stories with?” Yes. Yes there is.
Alright, now onto the actual blog post.
I am easily distracted and I like pretty things. I’m the sort of person who judges a book by it’s cover, because a beautiful cover is beautiful. I know that particular saying isn’t literally about books or their covers but when it does come to actual books, I’m guilty as charged.
The point is, if I’m writing something, like a novel for National Novel Writing Month or the project that I’m working on now, I’ll be staring at my computer screen for hours at a time. So I want the program I’m using to be uncluttered and relatively aesthetically pleasing to my judging eyes.
Basic word processors like Microsoft Word do not fit that description.
When I had my MacBook I used Jer’s Novel Writer because it was simple, with a few useful features without going overboard, unlike many of the novel writing programs out there. If you’re on a Mac and looking for such a program, I’d suggest you check it out. (Although it looks like Jer is revamping his site, so you can get screenshots of the program here.)
Alas, I have replaced my Mac with a PC and so I needed something that would work with Windows. I’ve found two programs, both available for free with the option of donating. Both of which I have donated to, because I find them that useful. They are OmmWriter and WriteMonkey.
OmmWriter is a full-screen editor that allows you to write distraction-free. There’s no option to write in anything other than full-screen. It’s beautiful, with a few simple backgrounds to choose from, optional white noise and typing sounds. When I’m in a focused mood, I can write for hours without clicking over to the internet, because I’m enjoying the experience of writing.
I love Ommwriter. But I’m not always disciplined enough to work in full-screen mode with no escape, and with my current project I’m writing in a less linear fashion, so I needed the option to be able to jump from section to section quickly without scrolling. After some searching, I found WriteMonkey.
With more functionality, WriteMonkey still has a minimalist approach that allows me to focus on what’s most important, whatever it is I’m writing, but includes important features like spell check. A complete menu can be found in WriteMonkey by right clicking, but most of the commands are easily accessible using keyboard shortcuts, a very nice touch.
It has standard and full-screen modes, so I can flip between them depending on how ADD I’m feeling. Headings and bookmarks allow me to travel to a section with a click, rather than scrolling. It’s not quite as pretty as OmmWriter, but it has very useful features that I definitely needed.
Both of these programs are available for Windows, and OmmWriter is also available for Macs and iPads.
For those of you writers out there, what programs do you use?