There are so many writing apps that you can use to plan, outline and write your novel. Maybe the most used is Scrivener but there is also the Novel Factory and yWriter and many more. And I used some of them (mainly Scrivener). But recently I switched from Scrivener to Google Drive and I think this was the smartest decision.
Today I want to share with you why I started using Google Drive for writing my novel but just before that let me tell you what I used before that.
Writing in Scrivener
I started using Scrivener from day 1 of my writing journey. I researched a lot and found that Scrivener is maybe the cheapest option. It also supports other languages, not only English. So years ago, when I first decided to write a novel I thought of writing it in Bulgarian which is my native language. And Scrivener was one of the few programs that support Bulgarian.
But what I like in Scrivener most?
Everything is in one place
The first thing is that everything is in one place. Your research, your outline, your manuscript. Everything you need is right in front of you. And you can easily switch from one or other part of your writing.
There is no need to open different folders and to remember how you named that file. Everything – from the research to the outline to the actual manuscript is in one place and always in front of you.
You can open two different files and work on them simultaneously
And because everything is in one place you can open two different documents and work on them. Or work on one of the document while looking at the other.
This is a great feature when you start writing the actual manuscript and want to see the outline at the same time. You can use this also for different other things. Like creating character sketches. You can divide your screen in two and open your character profile sheet and his/her picture at the same time so you can write while looking at your character. The same goes for locations, world building etc.
You don’t need to deal with a big long document
The other great option of Scrivener is that you don’t need to deal with a big, long document.
Everything you write is organized into different smaller files but if you need to you can switch the view and see all the scenes and chapters as one big document.
That’s very convenient and that’s, in fact, one of the biggest problems os working with Word or any other writing software. Working with those heavy long documents is tough. But if you want to make different files for the different chapters or scenes you may end up lost in the numerous files.
You can change everything with ease
If you like to outline with index cards then you’ll Scrivener’s option to see everything as index cards and move them around.
Changing the order of your scenes or chapters in Scrivener is as easy as moving around the index cards. As a matter of fact, you can see every document as an index card. Which is a lot of fun especially on the outlining phase.
But you can also move whole parts of your novel with ease.
In fact, this is one of the things I miss the most while working in Google Drive.
There are many other great options in Scrivener but there is also one great downside. You can’t work from everywhere.
Yes, now you can synchronize your project and save it in Google Drive or Dropbox but if you want to write something you will need a computer or a Mac to do it. There is no Android app, unfortunately. Those who have iPads and iPhones are of course in a better position because there is an app for iPhone. So if you’re one of them then you may seriously think not to move to Google Drive. But otherwise, if you are like me and want to work whenever you are even from your phone or tablet, then Google Drive is maybe the best alternative.
Why choose Google Drive
If you need to write from everywhere
I am traveling a lot. Since I teach in a university which is in another town, I travel a lot. Every other Wednesday I travel by bus and go back home on Saturday or Sunday. Also, my husband and I like to travel in our free time or just to go out on a walk. Which means that I cannot bring my laptop everywhere with me.
And this was the major reason to switch to Google Drive.
So if you travel a lot or you just need a place where you can start writing wherever you are and whenever you want, then Google Drive is for you.
It saves your work automatically
Another great option of Google Drive is that it saves your work automatically. There is no need to constantly hit the ‘save’ button. And if something happens and your laptop dies, then everything will be saved.
There is no need to back up your files or to save them. Just open the document and start writing.
When you finish you can just close it and everything will be saved.
No need to download and upload pictures
I am a visual person and when I am writing about a place or a character I like to have a picture in front of me. With Scrivener, this meant to search the Internet, download the picture that I want and then upload it to the Scrivener project.
With Google Drive, there is no need to download and upload anymore. If you want to add a picture of your character, just go to Insert > Image > Search the web and a sidebar opens where you can search for a particular picture. When you find the perfect one, select it and click Insert. The picture will appear automatically in your document.
And if you’re using Google Sheets there is a great new option where you can insert a picture in a cell. Which is great for character or location sheets.
Every change is saved as a separate version of your document
If you use Scrivener, you have to make screenshots of your project from time to time especially when you start editing.
In Google Drive, there is no need to do it. Every time you close and open again the document, Google saves the last version of it. So if you need to see what was it a two days ago just go to File > Version history > See version history and choose the version you want to see.
If you want you can even name your versions. So if you just finished writing the first draft, then go to File > Version history > Name current version and name it ‘First draft’. When you finish with the second draft do the same and name it ‘Second draft’ and so on.
When you open an old version of the document you can see what has changed and who changed it. Which leads us to the next advantage of Google Drive.
Sharing your manuscript is easier than ever
You can easily share your manuscript with your beta-readers, editor, publisher or whoever you want.
And not only this. You can choose who can do what with your file. So you can allow the people with whom you share your file to be able to just read it, post comments or even make changes in it.
If you choose the latter, then you track the changes they made. Choose the version you want to see and you will see who changed what in your document.
So if you plan to send your manuscript to beta-readers I definitely recommend using Google Drive. Even if you’re writing in Scrivener, Word or elsewhere. Export your project as a .doc file and upload it to Google Drive. Then share it with your beta-readers and ask them to leave comments. It’s very convenient and besides, when one reader leaves a comment the other after him/her will see it and if they think the same, there is no need for them to write separate comments.
There are other great options of Google Drive that you can use for writing your novel but these were the things that made me switch to it.
- You can write from wherever you want.
- It saves your work automatically.
- It uploads the pictures you want without the need to download them first.
- You can track the different versions of your document with ease.
- You can share your document and track the comments and changes your collaborators or readers have made.
Comment below what software or app are you using to outline and write your novel? Have you tried Google Drive? Are you interested in using Google Drive to write your novel?
You can also download my cheatsheet about how to organize your novel on Google Drive here.