I've been playing with some new toys recently, ones that are supposed to help me with my writing. A lot of authors on the RWA loops have been talking about two in specific: Scrivener, which just came out for Windows, and WriteWay, which was, apparently, always for Windows.
The first one I tried was Scrivener. My friend, PJ Schnyder, is working with it and loves it. She says it's really helped her keep track of her notes, her research, and keeps everything she needs in one place. I was intrigued.
Then I opened the program, and apparently I'm stupid, because I could not figure it out after two hours.
It starts by having you open a tutorial on how to work with it. Unfortunately, I found the tutorial to be utterly confusing after an hour of working with it. Scrivener was originally written for the Mac, and maybe that was my problem. I'm far more familiar and comfortable with programs written with the Microsoft Suite in mind. While the look of Scrivener, with its Corkboard, was really nice, I found the binders to be confusing. Worse, the program ate eight pages of The Hob, turning it into the tutorial's document! The good news is, the original Word document still exists, so I didn't lose my work from a few years ago, but still. I wasn't thrilled with Scrivener.
So I decided that while I liked the concept, Scrivener was not for me. What else was out there? That's when I saw WriteWay.
It was easy to work with immediately. I needed to hit the Help button once in the five hours I worked with it over the weekend (and I rarely write on weekends). I've got Angel in My Arms loaded, chapters and scenes set, research links added, all within two days. It's got a Synopsis page for when I'm ready, opens my Excel spreadsheet that I use for series work (as a separate doc), and has spots below where I'm writing for chapter and scene plot points and notes. When I'm ready to write, I click on the chapter scene I'm ready to write/edit and get straight to work. No confusion, no muss, and no eating of my document! It even keeps track of my word count in an obvious, top-of-page place. No hunting for it, no confusion. In short, it's perfect for me. Bonus? WriteWay is working on a version for Mac users.
The third program I heard of but didn't try was WriteMonkey, but the website was done in simple text, with no pics of the program. It is, however, free, which might explain the no-frills website. Some authors swear by it, but I'm happy with my purchase of WriteWay, so I won't be checking it out.
P.S.: If anyone has used Scrivener (or WriteMonkey) and loves it, please comment! While I didn't like the program for me, it looked really neat to work with. Maybe Mac users would find it more intuitive?