You just fucking need to write. That’s how I replied to someone asking me my opinion on the subject of novel-writing computer apps.
Don’t worry. I wasn’t being an insensitive jerk. I was actually quoting him as he already suspected that maybe he shouldn’t be going down that particular rabbit hole. This isn’t the first time someone’s asked me about computer gee-gaws and doo-dads for writing. My standard response: “‘You mean besides a notebook and Microsoft Word?”
My response continued: I’ve never even looked at these apps–and they’ve been around in some form or fashion for a while. I did see a rundown of them in Macworld or something a month ago. They’re interesting I guess. I’d probably definitely use specialized software if I was writing a script, but fiction or memoir? I don’t think so. Though they might come in handy for genre writers with really standard plot structures. And I guess they might make handling drafts and moving chapters around a little easier, though cut and paste works just fine. (As it is, I think the software we have makes me too lazy during rewrites and revisions)
Also, knowing myself, I could blow two months experimenting with different ones and then another month mastering one. Time better spent actually writing. So, for me, for long works, first draft is handwritten in a notebook, then it’s typed into Word. (Which forces a layer of editing and the notebook captures brain-farts, mistakes and diversions that I might end up using later after all.)
This isn’t to say that Word is preferable to anything else. Use what you’re comfortable with and what you like. I happen to like Word 2003. I happen to hate Word 2010. BECAUSE THEY CHANGED THINGS.