Which Writing Program Will You Use For Nanowrimo 2016?

Nanowrimo 2016 starts in a couple of weeks from today, and many of you must be gearing up to write atleast 50,000 words during the 30 days in November. So am I. This year, I want to take up challenge this challenge in a different way. I want to use a writing program that will allow me to keep writing or taking notes on any device, so that I am not bound to my desk while I am typing away on a computer (not that there is anything wrong with it: I am writing this post on my MacBook Pro).

The need for a cross-device writing program

Wouldn’t it be great if we had the same program installed on all the four devices, so that whatever I write in one device, can become accessible at every other device that we own?

If you ask in any writing forum, “Which writing software do you use?” The answers are always interesting to read. Many writers have their preferred writing software or app. Scrivener appears to be the favourite of many authors. Some use Ulysses Writer, while the likes of Steven Fry use iA Writer. A quick glance at Apple app store shows over 230 writing apps. Some are paid, while others, like the Focus Writer, come at no cost.

With this background, now let me mention why I was looking for a cross-device writing program: I use a Mac laptop and an Android phone, while my wife uses an iPad and an Android phone. (We are probably a couple of years away from completing the Trifecta, that is, an Apple laptop, tablet and a phone, so till then, we will have to work with this configuration.)

My wife is my first reader and my biggest fan. Before I publish anything, I typically have her read it or read it out to her. Because of the differences in rendering across devices with different screen sizes, it was getting difficult for both of us to exchange files, and she was unable to comment on my writing. This led me to look for solutions to this problem.

The shortlist

The criteria that I identified were that the program had to be fast, not loaded with too many features, and should not rely solely on an “always on” Internet connection. When we are travelling, we often do not have net access, or the connection is patchy. Based on my own experience, and after reading quite a few reviews and suggestions on multiple forums and websites, I came up with the following list of writing programs or apps to try out. (Evernote, of course, remains one of my top choices if we go for the Pro option, but my wife does not want to use it.)

  1. iA Writer
  2. Google Keep
  3. Simple Note

iA Writer

I like the interface of iA Writer, and I wrote this post using this program. The simple formatting, ability to post drafts on Wordpress or Medium are all great. iA Writer app for android is free, the Mac version cost me less than 700 Rupees (or about 10 US Dollars). All these and more make it a very compelling option.

Google Keep

Keep from Google is one of the lesser used programs from google. In its simplest form, it is a notepad. But one can also add images, links, create a list, or even record an audio. This makes it a very powerful tool for collaboration. It offers some basic formatting, and works well on the phones and the iPad. I have not tried the app for the Mac yet, but Google has an official version in the Chrome webstore, as mentioned in this discussion on Quora

Simplenote

Simplenote is a lightweight version of Evernote, with the advantage that we can install it on multiple devices (unlike the free version of Evernote). The advantage is that it works seamlessly across the four devices. It offers some basic formatting.

Conclusion:

There are many other options available, but we are testing the three. Google Keep offers much more than just text, it makes a great tool for reviewing and sending back comments not just in text. One can post directly to Medium and Wordpress through iA Writer, with some basic formatting. That works very well for scheduling multiple blog posts.

Simplenote on the other hand is, just… a simple note-keeping app. And that’s where it scores over the other two. It is fast, cross platform and free. However, price was not the consideration for us.

When we looked at the learning curve, ability to save the documents quickly, offline mode, and saving on the local device (text only) Simplenote simply scores. And that’s our choice at this time.

(Note: For ‘always-online’ options, you can consider Google Docs and Dropbox Paper, which are great tools to collaborate, but google docs on android is clunky. I like the interface, speed and responsiveness of Dropbox Paper. I have not tried Office Live or OneNote extensively, and therefore I cannot comment on them.

Creator- Gaatha Story- Podcast of Children's Stories. Cofounder Kamakshi Media and Author. Husband, dog lover. Country Manager for FSC, India. www.amarvyas.com

Creator- Gaatha Story- Podcast of Children's Stories. Cofounder Kamakshi Media and Author. Husband, dog lover. Country Manager for FSC, India. www.amarvyas.com