A Definitive Rating Of Writing Tools (+ An Update & a Survey!)

A Definitive Rating Of Writing Tools (+ An Update & a Survey!)

Hello! You might have noticed that I’ve been absent from the blogosphere lately…that’s because I’m re-designing my blog! As a reader, your opinion really matters to me. You’re who I’m writing for, after all!

Please take the survey below to tell me what kind of content you’re interested in seeing, and how/when you want to see it. It would mean the world to me. Also, if you comment below saying you filled out the form (the form is anonymous), I’ll be sure to visit your blog and show it some extra love.

If the survey isn’t appearing on your screen (gosh darn technology!) you can also take it by clicking this link.


I try to attend as many poetry readings and book signings as possible. Each time, there will be a Q&A session, and inevitably, someone will ask the question, “What do you write with? Like, a computer or paper?” The writer usually answers with their personal preference, and I began noticing some patterns. So let’s clear up the question once and for all, by exposing the clear writing tool hierarchy.

Here’s a scientific* ranking of writing tools, listed from worst to best:

*By scientific, I mean my own opinions and which pieces of technology have failed me in the middle of writing a scene. 

6. Phone


If you are one of these people who writes exclusively in the Notes section of your phone, I mean no disrespect. After all, everyone had different methods. What works for me might not work for you. But also, I think you’re insane and I seriously question all the life choices you’ve made.

Let’s face it. Writing on your phone is terrible. My autocorrect now changes the word “something” into “someth!ng” every time I type. Isn’t it supposed to work the opposite way? A phone screen is too small to see a lot of words at once. Writing something down on a phone is better than not writing at all, but it should be your last option.

5. Computer (Pages/Word)

Pages-icon             Microsoft_Word_2013_logo.svg

Full Disclosure: Word has failed me like no other. Once, while writing my first book, Word crashed and I almost lost thousands of words. My parent’s smart tech friend was able to save me (Thanks, Mike!) but I haven’t trusted it since.

Pages and Word are not specifically designed for creative writers, they’re only accessible from the computer you saved the work on, and they don’t save automatically. They might be a cheap option, but in this case, you get what you pay for.

4. Typewriter


I know what you’re thinking. “But typewriters are so cool / wicked / aesthetic / fun / authentic!” I own two typewriters. I am so grateful for that. Every time I look at them, I feel a little bit happier. Guests love to try them out, and I love to free-write on them. But I must say, typewriters just aren’t that practical.

Ribbons and maintenance can quickly become expensive, there’s no back button, they’re VERY loud, and if the paper that you’ve written on is destroyed somehow, all your work is gone. If you’re brainstorming or writing haiku, then a typewriter is perfect. But anything longer than that, you’re running into trouble.

(Although I can’t speak for electrical typewriter, since I’ve never tried one! Maybe they’re the perfect balance between vintage and modern.)

3. Pen and Something That Is Not Exactly Paper


“All right, Vivian,” you may be thinking at this moment, “Why would you put a photo of water bottles AHEAD of the incredibly majestic typewriter?”

Hear me out. Sometimes, the famous and fabulous poet Emily Dickinson became so overwhelmed with inspiration for a poem that she dropped everything she was doing and wrote it down. She wrote several poems on the back of recipe cards, because she was in the middle of baking when lines came to her.

Haven’t you had that moment of sudden realization? Haven’t you never had an actual piece of writing equipment with you when it happened?

Whenever I get unstoppable ideas, I’ve realized I left my journal at home. So instead, I wrote down the poems on water bottle wrappers. On paper towels. On the back of my hand. On my math homework. (My math teacher liked the haiku, luckily.)

The pen and the “not quite paper” go splat in the middle of this list. They’re not pretty, but they’re useful. They’re authentic. They’re the best symbol of what being a writer is all about: the words, before anything else. The words.


2. Computer (Google Docs)


Sure, Google Docs doesn’t sound as majestic as a typewriter, but it’s easy to use, saves automatically, and you can access it from your google account. That means you can use it on any computer you go to! You don’t have to lug your laptop around with you like most other word processors. You can access your document from almost any device.

Google docs is probably the most convenient and efficient writing tools, and though that might not sound very fun to whimsical writers, when you don’t have a lot of time to get the words down, it means a lot.

1. (TIE) Pen and Paper & Computer – Scrivener



Not much can beat pen and paper. I’m not sure about you, but I feel  distinctly honest and vulnerable when I am writing by hand. I’m forming each letter, and it is all remarkably physical. I’m turning misty ideas from my head into something I can actually hold in my hand.

I think for short stories, poetry, and rough drafts of anything except novels, pen and paper is the way to go. It’s cheap, convenient, and special, and though it can be frustrating to only have one copy of something, you can always type it up later when editing.



Okay, Scrivener is the thing that can beat pen and paper. But just for novel-writing and scripts. I admire all my writing friends who can work on full-length books by hand, but I’m not one of them. My hands cramp too easily, I need to be able to cut and paste things, and also, I can’t read my own handwriting. Luckily, I found a word processor that really works for me.

Scrivener has a bulletin board, separate sections for chapters, and character descriptions that you can look at while writing. (Don’t judge me, I can never remember what color eyes my minor characters have.) It’s more expensive, but for me, it was worth the splurge to be organized while working on a book.


Thanks so much for reading! If you haven’t already, go ahead and take my survey. What do you usually write with?   Let me know in the comments! Until next time, you can find me on Pinterest or Instagram…which also might be getting some ~theme changes~, so follow now to watch the transformation.


20 responses to “A Definitive Rating Of Writing Tools (+ An Update & a Survey!)”

  1. Great post! I usually write on Google Docs on my computer or sometimes on my phone if it’s all I have with me. I do also use pen and paper. And yesss, don’t the best lines always come to you when you’re least expecting it and least prepared! Off to take the survey now! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am using Word, and the 2003 version (which I still use) has autosave feature, if you can find it in settings (I set it to 10 minutes myself). I only needed it once so far, and lost maybe 3 minutes, so for that I am glad. Plus I am paranoid a bit and have several backups (flash drive, external HDD, google drive).
    Google docs might work well, but when I uploaded just a part of my first draft, it was laggy as hell. Maybe it was some of my browser addons, I don’t know, but if the 50 pages were any indication, I don’t want to know how fast it would load with full upload at 450 ‘office’ pages of default font (Calibre recalculates it as ~750 ‘book’ pages).
    Anyway, great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! I had no idea that word had an autosave feature – that would have been a lifesaver. I’m glad you only lost three minutes. That’s so many pages! (Can you imagine hand-writing all of that?) Thanks for reading!


      • My handwriting gets lousy after one page, if my university life is any indication, so I could not write something longer that way. Respect to writers of old times!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I used to write on Google Docs but I found that if you got to maybe 40/50k words it gets so laggy it’s almost impossible to use! But now I write on Word, and I just back up my work as often as possible. I love pen & paper though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I use Word, but I completely understand your trauma. My Word does make automatic back ups, but I could still lose some work so I don’t know why I’m using it haha. I find the formatting of pages annoying so I don’t like to use that one either. I would love to get Scrivener, but I just can’t spend any money right now haha. Do you have to buy it once or renew it every year?
    Also HOW do people write on their phones?? Like I get jotting down quick ideas, I do it too if I have nothing to write on/am in a hurry, but entire chapters?? Entire novels?? HOW


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