Best Writing Software
This car is parked at the side of the road a few miles from my house. Every time I drive past, it makes me smile. Both front tires received the same treatment. Duct tape can fix a lot of things, but I'm pretty certain it won't fix this.
That sight started me thinking about how important it is to use the right tool for the job. I've done my share of home repair and remodeling. Over the years, I learned how much easier the proper tools can make that work. I have much more expertise with computers and use them in a variety of ways. I'm always on the search for computer programs that will make me more productive in my work.
What I've concluded is that there is no one best program for writers. Each phase of the writing process seems to require a different type of software. I use three programs in my writing workflow. I write fiction and non-fiction, and use the same software for both.
1. First Draft Through Final Text Revisions - SmartEdit Writer (formerly Atomic Scribbler)
Most of my time is spent with this software. SmartEdit Writer is free and works on Windows systems only.
I begin by jotting down ideas and accumulating research. SmartEdit Writer makes it easy to store that info in a readily accessible form.
With most of my projects, I'm an outliner. I like to have a rough idea, at least, of where I'm going with a book, course, article, etc. Although sometimes with my fiction books, I haven't had a clearly-defined outline. On one in particular, I had a good starting premise, and I knew where I wanted to be at the end, but the middle was not just murky - it was non-existent.
SmartEdit Writer works well whatever your structural approach. It contains a document tree at the left side of the window, which you may set up however you'd like - with sections, chapters, scenes, notes, etc. You can add, delete, and rearrange to your heart's content. Seeing the overview of my projects while I'm working on the text, keeps me focused and organized. The text editor is in the middle pane, with various other features optionally displayed to the right.
But what really sold me on SmartEdit Writer was the integration of the editing component, SmartEdit. As a self-published author, it's been challenging to find skillful human editors at a reasonable price. Searching for editing and grammar-checking software is how I came across SmartEdit Writer. SmartEdit allows me to catch many flaws in my writing before it's sent to an editor.
Both of these programs have become staples in my writing workflow.
My course on AtomicScribbler/SmartEdit.
2. Sharing/Critiquing - LibreOffice Writer
Atomic Scribbler doesn't include the ability for others to view your work, suggest changes, and provide feedback in the form of notes.
I'm part of an online critique group, in which we swap chapters to critique each other's work. Atomic Scribbler makes it easy to export to Word's doc or docx formats. That's how I submit chapters to the group.
To critique others work and to look at the feedback I've received, I use the Writer component of LibreOffice. Writer has the Track Changes and Commenting features that work with the corresponding functions in Microsoft Word.
I've worked as a programmer and over the years have purchased more than my share of computer software. What I don't like is the new trend toward subscription-based programs. I prefer to buy software, own it outright, and use it as long as I please - upgrading when I feel it's necessary. That's why I've chosen to use the free LibreOffice suite rather than Microsoft Word. It's a perfectly capable word processor, more than adequate for most people.
3. Page Layout/Final Print-ready Product - QuarkXPress
I continue revising the text in Atomic Scribbler until I have it in a final, polished, and hopefully error-free form. Then I export the entire document and import it into QuarkXPress. For my earliest books, I created the final print-ready pdf in Microsoft Word. Oh, my, what a headache - and the finished products were less than spectacular.
It's hard to duplicate the results you can achieve with software like QuarkXPress or Adobe InDesign. Those programs were created specifically for page layout and design, rather than word processing. Neither is cheap or easy to learn. Some people choose to hire someone else to create the print version of their books. However, I enjoy this phase - creating the final product. With my aversion to subscription software, I decided to try the lesser-known QuarkXPress program. I find it quite comparable and maybe a bit easier than InDesign.
With Quark, I break the text down into chapters, apply the final font styling and formatting, and insert illustrations. When complete, I export the text in pdf format to send to the printer.
Those are the programs and the process I have, and continue, to use to create my Sonrise Stable series and video courses. Each of the programs I use is very good at what I use it for, but not so good at other things. If a program did exist that performed each of those tasks well, it might be so complicated, that no one would want to use it.