In writing the book I’m currently working on (62,000 words and counting), I gave up my dream of a seamless writing experience that would allow me to work cross-platform while keeping my book in sync online and off, and instead finally went for it and tried Scrivener, running on my old Acer netbook (which is a miserable piece of equipment, but I’ll spare you that).
I tried everything. The closest I came was UX Write for the iPad. It enabled me to have a big .docx file on Box that I could edit with Word on the PC and with the app on the iPad. UX Write is truly awesome software–one of the most impressive pieces of software I’ve ever seen. It works–smoothly, quickly, and without causing problems between iPad and PC. It has a great table of contents function that allowed me to keep work as chapters within a big document. It really is almost good enough to replace Word altogether.
iPads are still small–not always great for writing. And every so often, you need more. At the very least, you have to put it into Word or something similar eventually to format it. And Scrivener, it calls to you with its functions designed for writers, its tree-like organization, its Scrivenings mode, its ability to compile into all kinds of useful formats. It really is nice. But it doesn’t have an iPad version that works with the PC version (it works with the Mac version, but not the PC version, but if you don’t want to buy a Mac, tough cookies). This led me to think about buying a new Windows computer, but the tablets all represent compromises of one kind of another, and I’m not sure about paying full price for a real Windows machine when the future of desktop computing and PCs is so hazy. But of course Scrivener doesn’t run on Chromebooks, because “real” work is increasingly being consigned to a no-person’s land of dodgy kludges. The few of us still wanting to do anything more serious than, say, Instagram editing, are all going to be running hyperspace-capable Mac Pros without anything to run on them.
So in the end, I decided what was really important was writing, I loaded up Scrivener on the Acer, and I went for it. And I’m loving it. Truly, nothing else comes close in terms of functionality for writers. There are all kinds of things I wish it had, I wish it would work with my iPad, I wish I wish I wish. But the truth is, I’m never going to want to write longform again without it. The Scrivenings mode alone is something no other piece of software can match, period. The ability to turn your drag-and-drop tree-form skeleton into new shapes at will is…bliss. It is how my mind works translated into software. Must. Have. Scrivenings.
So that’s what’s gone into this one book, techwise, and will probably continue to be my modus, techwise, until the Acer croaks or Scrivener goes Mac-only (the developer certainly doesn’t seem too keen on the PC version, showing it almost no love in recent years, and lets the community develop the Linux version, which is roughly on a par with the PC version at this point, for better and for worse).
All well and good for this book, but why does it have to be this complicated? Oh well…I have to remind myself people wrote long novels before there even were computers. Before there was even electricity, for that matter. Still.