Writing tools

If you’re shopping for a word processor, don’t overlook Microsoft Word

A few years back I started blogging about SharePoint*. I soon realised that I couldn’t manage that blog, plus this blog, plus writing novels along with a heavy full-time workload. Something had to give, and what gave was SharePoint.

I left the blog open for months after that, because even though it was technically dead there was one post that got a lot of traffic. It was called ‘But what does SharePoint do?’. A lot of people commented on it. Even when I finally deleted the site it was still attracting three or four comments a month.

When I pulled the plug there were over 200 comments. Most of them of stayed on topic, but in between there were a noticeable number of anti-Microsoft rants of the “Big Brother Microsoft is capital-B Bad and don’t touch them” kind, and “It’s a useless product, you don’t need it, open-source products are better”.

Putting aside the fact that most people who use SharePoint don’t get any choice**, Microsoft didn’t get to be a big company by continually producing bad products. And despite all its detractors, if you have a use for it, SharePoint is an impressive product.

Microsoft isn’t the only company that gets bad press. Modern behemoths like Amazon and Google are starting to get a similar response. Even Apple is catching some flak nowadays.

Some people choose not to buy books from Amazon because they don’t like Amazon’s business ethics. Others choose not to buy from the iTunes store because they feel likewise about Apple. And some people choose not to use Microsoft Word because they don’t like Microsoft’s business ethics.

What has this to do with writing, you ask?

It’s about Microsoft Word.

You don’t need Word to write novels. All you need in this day and age is a computer and a text editor. (Note that I didn’t say pen and paper. If you want to sell novels, you have to get that those handwritten notes onto a PC.)

There are lots of word processors out there. You can use anything from Word to Open Office to Google Docs to Pages or dozens more. Many authors, particularly Mac users, love Scrivener, for example.

People come up with lots of excuses for not choosing Word.

  • The WYSIWYG editor gets in the way
  • It has too much functionality that you don’t need
  • It’s too complex
  • It doesn’t separate the writing from the presentation layer

Plus a stack of other reasons that often come across as excuses.

If you are a writer shopping for a word processor to write novels on, there are only three reasons you should not consider Microsoft Word.

  • Your operating system doesn’t support it
  • You can’t afford it
  • You really do hate Microsoft and absolutely refuse to buy anything from them (in which case I imagine you will take equally strong stances against buying things from Apple and Amazon).

Note that I say ‘consider’. That doesn’t mean I think you should automatically go out and buy it, just that it’s one of those programs you should be investigating seriously.

You might find it a better tool than you think.

Because you know what, when you have finally finished agonizing over your manuscript, what are you going to do? You’re going to convert it into a Word document to send on to your agent or your editor.

* SharePoint is a Microsoft program. In their sales brochure Apps4Rent describe how people use SharePoint, which was probably always a better question than what it does.

** In most companies, implementing a program like SharePoint is a decision made by a small group of people and then implemented across the company. Many of those wanting to know about SharePoint are those forced to use it.

For what it’s worth, I like SharePoint. Hence the original blog.

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