I love talking about writing interfaces.

NaNoWriMo starts today, and one of the things that comes up every single year is users begging each other not to waste all their time choosing the perfect writing tool.

I think there’s a lot of sense in that — if you’re not writing, it doesn’t matter what interface you’re not writing in — but the interface you choose definitely does matter. Typewriters make it difficult to go back and cross our your errors. Scrivener lets you separate all your work into movable chapters and scenes before you’re even come up with a first draft. That has to change the way you think about the story you’re making.

I bought Scrivener the first year I did NaNoWriMo, but even with my fancy writing software I did most of my writing on the backs of napkins and homework and half-filled notebooks I scrounged up from under my bed. What that says about anything, I’m not sure, except that pen and paper is an extremely stubborn interface and I don’t think it’s going anywhere.

What kind of writing interface do you all use? Do you find it changes based on whether you’re doing fiction or nonfiction? (I can’t stand anything fancier than Pages for fiction, personally, but I use Scrivener all the time for essays.)

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2 thoughts on “

  1. Very interesting, Matt. As you’ll see in one of our upcoming readings, I totally agree with you that interface really matters. Literally, as in being the material manifestation of whatever system we are using, which goes to hardware as well as software. What you say about Pages and Scrivener makes perfect sense to me–and seeks to accord with what Kirschenbaum was talking about in his introduction.

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  2. YAY FOR NANOWRIMO! I’m also participating, good luck to us!
    This is really interesting and I don’t think there’s any way to disagree – the mode in which we write will change what we write. In truth, I use Microsoft Word for everything. It was the tool that was introduced to me as a child and I’ve stuck with it.. which I think is actually pretty universal. I think (especially because I’m such an advocate of the internet and using new technologies in new ways) that I’ve been really lazy in sticking with Word. It’s comfortable, but there might be (referring to Kirschenbaum’s article that Susan mentioned) my own WordStar out there somewhere!

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