Many writers praise Scrivener as the ideal program for drafting fiction. I’m sure for many people it is. Scrivener supports a non-linear approach to assembling a story, bundling together all aspects of the writing process into a single place on your screen. I tried the beta when it came out for Windows and realized it’s also tailored for writers who work in a fundamentally different way than I do. I do all my note taking and outlining on notepads with a pen and keep the sheaves spread out all over the desk beside me when I get to writing the story itself. That story proceeds in a linear way. Unlike many, I can’t write out of order and type in the connecting tissue later. I work top-down from page one to “The End”, and if there are any problems, I have to go back and fix them before I can move on.
So Scrivener is out. Any word processing program will do. I’ve been using FocusWriter, a “distraction-free” word processor, for short story drafts and blog posts. I edit in MS Word 2003. Unlike other full-screen editors, FocusWriter can save in rtf and has the full range of formatting options along with a spellcheckers. But mainly, I can set the background to black and save on my laptop’s battery life. And it makes typewriter noises. Typewriter noises are important to me. Yet I found that if your document gets too long and you have to work on it in a different word processor, FocusWriter will randomly insert large blank gaps into your file when you go back to it, so it’s not ideal for novels.
(Digression: Why the typewriter noises? I didn’t have a computer until I was 12 years old. I did have an old Brother portable typewriter that I used for school projects, so the noises bring back a nostalgic buzz of pleasure, I think.)
The tactile experience of writing with a pen is an important element in getting down ideas, I find. Plus many of those ideas come in pictures, in sketches, and I like that freedom. Just the same as the tactile experience of pressing fingers to a keyboard has become an important part of composing prose for me. Both of these come out of habit. I have no reason to change them, as of yet.