The best writing software

What technical tools can help to write your book?

In the early days, books were written on a typewriter or even by hand. Can you imagine how complicated that was: you had to create your entire book before you started writing, you could only work lineairly, making corrections was tricky and sloppy, plus you couldn’t change the order.
Fortunately, computers and word processors make it a lot easier these days. They also have super useful functions such as the spell check and ‘find and replace’. Plus there are great software and apps that can help make your book even better and facilitate writing. Warning: if you would spend all your time to find the right tools, then there will be no time left for your book. I did the work for you; here’s an overview.

Store your document in the cloud

Whatever you do, don’t store your document (only) on your computer. Upload or synch it in the cloud, on your Dropbox, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, or other external location. Don’t think: “I’ll do that later”, or “I’ll make regular backups”: make sure you set it up NOW to sync automatically. You don’t want to lose an hour, a day, or even more work. Believe me!

Smart software

Many writers prefer Microsoft Word because they are familiar with it. We all know the struggle with long text documents, with a lot of scrolling and little overview. Or working with different separate documents, switching between the various parts, and the hassle with ‘version management’. All this is wasted energy. As a writer, I want to focus on the content of my book, not the hassle of documents.

That’s why I was so happy when I discovered Scrivener. This software has been developed specially for large writing projects with long, complex documents, such as a book or a screenplay. It is ideal for the process of outlining and structuring, it helps to keep an overview.
I’m probably only using a few percent of what the software can actually do. The option to structure the different chapters alone is worth purchasing Scrivener (one-time cost 53 euros; there is also a free thirty-day trial: bit.ly/tryscrivener) Be sure to check out the demo video on their website. 99 percent of all the people I help with their book are as excited about this program as I am.

Free version

There is also free software bibisco.com, which has some similar features. You can then put your research next to your document where you write. Not as good as scrivener, but if you don’t want to spend money you can try this one.

Make sure your outline is visible

Both in Google Docs and in Microsoft Word you can use H1 and H2 headers for the titles of your chapters and paragraphs so that the ‘document outline’ on the left-hand side gives you an overview of your document. Google Docs has the advantage that you work directly in the cloud and that you can also make your document available offline. I myself increasingly opt for Google doc: it is free, simple, and convenient.

The central place for all your documents

Some people keep all their research and notes in Evernote. This program recognizes text, also in photos, and has a great search function. You can also save everything related to your book in a folder in Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive. It’s nice to have everything together in one place where it’s accessible anytime, anywhere.

Collaborate?

If you are working on your book with others, Google Docs is a good option, because you can work with more people in one document at the same time. Unfortunately, Scrivener and Word don’t have that option.

Shortcuts

Do you often use the same words or expressions? If you want to type less and ensure a uniform spelling, program shortcuts on your keyboard or, for example, with TextExpander (with this link you will receive a 20% discount: bit.ly/textexpander-discount). This ultimately saves hours of typing and many errors. I have even set words that I often mistype as shortcuts to the correct spelling: for example, ‘Eshter’ automatically becomes ‘Esther’. They seem like small things, but all in all, it saves a lot of time, energy, and ‘brain space’.

Spell check and edit help

Use your spell check! Nothing is more annoying than spelling mistakes. Be consistent in your use of language. The ‘find and replace’ function is useful to look up different spellings of a word in your document and replace it with the desired word. Be careful with this: for example, if you want to replace Jan with Pete, and you don’t turn on ‘case recognition’ and/or a space after the name, then ‘January’ suddenly becomes ‘Peteuari’ in your entire document! 🙂

If you write in English, Grammarly and the Hemingway app are great resources. They check not only grammar but also style and suggest improvements.

In short: find a program that meets your requirements, that you enjoy working in, and get to work with it. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the options. Make sure you have a good (automatic) backup and keep all your files in one place.

Are you serious about writing your book?

Don’t reinvent the wheel, like I did. As the author and co-author of more than 30 books, writing coach for hundreds of people and organizer of 20 writing retreats, I have finally found the best system for writing a good book: the ‘Reverse Writing’ method. If you begin at the end and create a good structure before you start writing, you will be able to follow your energy, instead of the page numbers.

Learn all tips & tricks in the online program

Everything you need to turn your idea into a bestseller: practical advise, examples and inspiration. I have recorded 60 short videos with step by step explanation about writing, publishing and promoting your book. Consult and re-watch whenever you like. Check out the online program.

werboek back front cover - Why you should start promoting your book while you're writing it

Personal guidance

Private writing coaching is a unique opportunity to work on your book with my personal guidance and support. Book a single strategy session or plan a series of 1-on-1 calls. Do you want the best for your book?

A writing retreat on an exotic location?

During the online writing [email protected] or an all-inclusive retreat on my favorite islands or in the French Alps, you will work with like-minded people and get 1-on-1 guidance. The daily workshops help to get started, followed by focused writing time, delicious food and personal guidance & feedback. Where will we go?

The book ‘Reverse Writing’

Learn my Reverse Writing method (start with the back cover) in my brand new, super-comprehensive book ‘Reverse Writing’ and the companion workbook. You will find a step-by-step explanation, lots of examples, inspiration and practical tips about writing, promotion and publishing your book.

Original ideas and proven formats for your next bestseller

A successful book starts with a good idea. Check out the 10 best ‘formulas’ I’ve found for successful non-fiction books. Each of these ten proven formats gives you a different perspective, inspiration and examples you can adapt for your own book. Subscribe to my ‘interested in writing’ list for book inspiration & tips and immediately receive the PDF with 10 ideas for a successful non-fiction book.

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