How to Choose the Right Software and Device for Writing

How to Choose the Right Software and Device for Writing Your Book

I’ll be honest, I’ve tried it all. From a simple Word doc to mobile apps and those online writing apps where everything else is blocked. If it was something related to writing, I’ve tried it (and promptly discarded it a few days later).

There are so many tools for writers online and offline that it’s incredibly hard to know where to even begin.

For me personally, the simpler the better. I use Google Docs almost exclusively because I can write both on my laptop and my phone (or any other device I choose), and it pretty much has everything you need to get started, even if you like being fiddly with fonts. However, this is just me, and you may not like it, so here are the most popular software for writing (and my thoughts).

The Write Stuff: Writing Software

Google Docs

My favorite, so it has to go first. But honestly, it’s as simple and accessible as it gets. It’s completely free and stays free forever, and you can share links, collaborate with people, send it easily to beta readers, and more. I created some really great character sheets and plotting files in Google Docs as well, check them out.


  • Accessibility: Access your work from any device with internet access.
  • Collaboration: Ideal for co-writing and real-time collaboration.
  • Version History: Easily track and revert changes.


  • Internet Dependency: Requires an internet connection.
  • Limited Offline Access: Offline functionality is less robust compared to dedicated software.


I tried Scrivener for a while a year or so ago. Believe me, it was great. But my issue is that it’s too fiddly. You have so many options, so many possibilities, that it’s very easy to get lost and lose focus on what actually matters: writing. Especially if you’re like me, easily distracted.

However, I do believe this is a great tool for someone writing a fantasy novel or a novel with many characters or a complex plot.


  • Organization: Designed for novelists and complex projects with powerful organization features.
  • Research Integration: Integrated tools for research and reference materials.
  • Customization: Highly customizable, allowing you to tailor the interface to your needs.


  • Learning Curve: Can be overwhelming for new users.
  • Not Free: Scrivener is a paid software.

Microsoft Word

The grandfather (?) of word processors, Microsoft Word is pretty much the same as Google Docs. I used it before a lot, and will probably use it again.


  • Widespread Use: Universally used, making it easy for sharing and compatibility.
  • Feature-Rich: Offers extensive formatting, grammar check, and document management tools.
  • Offline Mode: Works offline without internet connectivity.


  • Cost: Microsoft Word can be expensive, especially if you’re not already using it.
  • Resource Intensive: Can slow down older computers.

The Write Environment: Choose Your Device

And yes, I’ve tried all devices as well (okay, most devices). You have so many options now, from ones that everyone uses like a laptop, to the more old-fashioned methods. Here are my thoughts:


Look, you can’t go wrong with this. It’s like the Google Docs of devices. We all use it. And for me at least, it’s the best choice. I have a full-sized keyboard, and a big screen and I can cuddle up in my comfy chair under a blanket and write away. Desktops are more formal, but I still like them as an option.


  • Large Screen: Ideal for long writing sessions, research, and multitasking.
  • Full Keyboard: Comfortable for typing long documents.
  • Powerful Software: Access to resource-intensive writing software.


  • Immobility: Less portable for on-the-go writing (just for desktops).
  • Potential Distractions: Easily distracted when connected to the internet.

Longhand (Notebook)

I so, so want to be this girlie. I want to write my book in a fancy notebook and have physical evidence of what I did. But, and it’s a pretty big but, I hate doing it. My hand cramps up quickly, it’s much slower than typing, and worst of all, I can’t easily delete whatever I mess up. And of course, it bothers me whenever I have to cross out words or heavens forbid, entire sentences or paragraphs. So I don’t do it, even though I would really, really like to.


  • Tactile Experience: Many writers find writing by hand more engaging.
  • Portability: Write anywhere, anytime, without tech constraints.
  • No Distractions: Immune to digital interruptions.


  • Transcription Required: You’ll need to type up your work for sharing and editing.
  • Limited Revisions: Less flexibility for editing and revising.


Did I attempt to use my phone for writing? Yes. Did I google published authors who wrote their books on their phones? Yes, of course. Did I find any? Well…

Look, I would love this option to work for me. But I’m so so bad at typing on my phone, and then there’s also the editing that can be very hard, and the fact that I just get completely blocked when I try it. So, it’s a no for me, but you could give it a go.


  • Portability: Write on the go, anywhere, and anytime.
  • Apps Galore: Access to a wide range of writing apps and cloud storage.
  • Touchscreen Keyboards: Suitable for shorter bursts of writing.


  • Small Screen: Limited screen real estate for long writing sessions.
  • Typing Experience: Virtual keyboards can be less comfortable for extended use.
  • Battery Life: Frequent writing may drain your device’s battery.

Other Fun Options

Here are some devices I think are fun, but have not tried:

  • Typewriter: Wanna feel like the next Hemingway? This is the best tool for it. Jokes aside, it’s really fun, but clunky and loud, and just the opposite of portable.
  • Dedicated writing device: This is new for me, so I don’t have much to say about it, but I heard great things about devices like Free Write. They look great, and I might give them a go at some point in the future, but they cost as much as a laptop so it’s a no from me (for now).

Finding Your Writing Oasis

The right tools and environment can make your writing experience more enjoyable and productive. Here’s how to find your sweet spot:

1. Know Your Style

Understand your writing style and habits. Do you prefer a structured, organized approach, or do you thrive in a more spontaneous environment? If the former, then a desktop or a laptop might be the choice for you. For more spontaneity, a notebook or a phone is a good option.

2. Experiment

Try different writing tools and platforms. Experimenting will help you discover what works best for you. This is how I figured out my preferences, and you will too.

3. Combine Tools

Don’t limit yourself to just one tool. Many writers use a combination of software and devices to suit their needs for different projects. I personally use my laptop almost exclusively, but every now and again I do use my phone, and even a notebook when it’s just a quick sentence or two.

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to writing tools and platforms. The key is to find what makes you most comfortable and productive, allowing your creativity to flow. Happy writing, wherever and however you choose to do it! And hey, if you have any thoughts on this (or an amazing writing software I haven’t heard of), drop your tips in the comments below!

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