Word processor vs text editor.

The new online literary magazine that I am a founding member of, as well as contributor to, is about to go live. It’s pretty exciting. So often have I wanted to do something more with my texts, but so rarely have I really done it. Mostly I just (quoting Destroyer) write poetry for myself. It’s good fun and all, but I really want to do something more with it. I feel like I have a talent, and if you got it, flaunt it.

It’s not my best writing in the premiere edition of the magazine. When we reached our deadline, I had just entered one of my all-my-writings-suck phases. Those come about once every other month or so. But I managed to pull myself together and write something new instead that could make the cut.

The last couple of days I’ve been horribly reminded of the possibilities (or lack thereof) when it comes to control over your document. A thing as simple as page numbers turned out to be one of the most difficult things ever. Pages, which is my normal go-to program wasn’t negotiable whatsoever. I could put page numbers in, or not. If I wanted to do something else with them, say – start them at page 3, I could take a hike. No love. I ended up looking all over the internet for a program to solve my problems. I’ve been really intrigued by Scrivener. Gone through the extensive tutorial in the trial version and I think I might just buy the program. It really seems to do what I want. Admitted, it probably isn’t the instant fix I was looking for, since Scrivener is really more a text-creator than a word processor. I would still need to put it through a dedicated word processor to fix a few things design-wise, but it’s definitely an upgrade to the writing process when writing a larger thesis or if I’m going to write some great big novel at any point in my life. It has the structure that I lack.

Anyhow, my search eventually brought me to the knowledge that I could get a free Microsoft Word/Outlook/Excel/etc package through my university. So, joyfully downloading Word, knowing that Word – at least back in the days – was able to help me with page numbers, I was sure my problems were short-lived.

Think again. Hello Word. Hello enemy number one.

I’ll start by killing off the excitement: I have, by now, managed to do all the things in Word that I set out to do. But my, was it a hassle at times. I felt as if there was some evil employee behind my screen, who knew what my mission was, and the amount on his paycheck depended on him successfully keeping me away from completing it. Whenever I thought I had found a solution to a problem, some new form of it popped up. I quickly found out that I could manage the page numbers problem through sections – I had never imagined that I would need to start my document off with 4 different sections, though. I had never thought that I would have to suddenly change the cover-picture’s placement in relation to the text. I had never thought I would have so much trouble getting the right quotation-marks in – when it had worked perfectly up until now.

I was reminded of why I was so happy to go from Microsoft to Apple, from Words to Pages. I was reminded of the simplicity instead of the everlasting bugfight.

Sure, Words has a ton of options that Pages doesn’t have, but this is what I have now found out: what Word does is layout. What Pages does is write. Those two just communicate really poorly whenever any form of design gets in the way. And what Scrivener does is organize and write. I think I’m going to buy Scrivener. But I will be working out the last 28 days of my trial to find out for sure. I really like the organizing aspects. Thing is: will I use them? I’m such a slacker. I really should, I would benefit greatly from it – but will I really use it? Will I just treat it the same as Pages? If so, then it’s a great waste of money. Hmm.

I think I will buy it. Longer theses are coming up. I will need it. I will learn to use it, and I will learn to be more dedicated to the entire process of writing – not just writing. I might use it for the magazine as well. It really does offer some great options when it comes to looking at the content and changing it up as you go along. If I don’t use it, then I know now that I will write everything for the magazine in Pages – not caring one bit about the layout (except maybe text boxes. Pages really does text boxes nicely, and Words is actually able to read those acceptably), and then transferring it to Words where I will take care of all of the layout: the front page, the info, the contents, page numbers.

This has been a very non-emotional blog post.


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