Searching for a universal writing application is probably akin to searching for a universal writing style. So right off, the answer to the question in the title is negative. But then, is there one out there that would have a broad appeal and, as in that Rolling Stones classic, bring “Satisfaction” to as many writers as is possible.
Yet another tough one. The answer would have to involve not only personal tastes and preferences, but also elements like the computer platform, stationary or laptop, iPad/tablet, mobile phone… And, again, the answer would probably be negative again. Maybe at some point, but whatever platform you take into consideration, the answer wouldn’t differ much.
Let’s consider the Mac situation. Like on every other platform, Microsoft Word probably dominates, and almost any editor anywhere on the planet will at least gladly accept it. But then, with everything it is got built in, most of which 95 percent of the writers don’t need, unless you are a chain smoker, need to boil a fresh pot of coffee, or go get your snail mail, it will take ages to open. Or, try finding and using one of those fancy features without reading through a few pages of an even more confusing instruction manual. Let alone the fact that it uses so much memory that if you open a few references while you are writing, your typing speed loses any connection with that term whatsoever.
Nisus Writer Pro is very popular with Mac users, it opens in a breeze and typing is never slow, unless, as in Word you open other apps or references, when it can simply crash everything, as it operates mainly using your RAM memory. Apple’s Pages, like anything Apple is stylish, has a pile of templates and relatively quick in operation, but try submitting a text in it to an online publication that doesn’t operate on Apple, whether you convert the file(s) or not.
Scrivener is excellent, saves all your projects in the order you wish and need, keeps chapters separate, but as with Pages, try submitting it to somebody who doesn’t support it. And, as the number or the size of your project start to grow, like Word, it can take ages to open. Writing Shed, new app based on the same principles as Scrivener, tries to resolve the speed problems, but has other styling shortcomings, like changing to say bold lettering and back, as it will mess up your spacing, if you changed that too. Of course, you may try newcomers like Writer and Strike, but they all need work to do to be barely competitive.
You can always go for something compatible with other devices you write on and don’t use as much space or memory as a full-fledged word processor like Bear or Ulysses, which can be great in some situations, but have their shortcomings like how internet links act within your text or having to check up your word count in a separate menu, to cite just two.
Of course, you can always open up Google Docs, editors love it, but if they have more than one remark in a paragraph, finding what each one relates to in the text can get confusing. And then, if you want to save your text anywhere else then just trust it to Google, you have to write it up somewhere else first, or copy and paste it into another application.
In the end, it seems that every writer has a special section on their device just for their writing apps and every morning before they start writing they have the same feeling they had a while before that when they were choosing what they are going to wear that day. No real satisfaction…yet.
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