📆 Post date: 2023-12-10 I get a lot of email, comments, DMs and smoke signals that all seem to have some incorrect assumptions about me, my workflow and my needs. So much so, that I am writing this, with the intent of just linking it to people in the future.

A defence of workflow

I recently switched to a Mac (an M2 MBA with 16GB of unified memory and 1TB of storage) I gave my XPS13 (a 9315, with 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage) to my daughter (who was delighted.) Since switching to Mac (which was recently) I have been very happy. While I have had a little bit of a learning curve to climb, I have not found any issues that would make me regret my decision to part with my XPS13.

I still, predominantly, spend my time, writing fiction. Despite me talking about writing tools on YouTube, I am still using Microsoft word as my personal, main, writing tool. The below is a list of contributing actors.

  • Does not crash very often.
  • Has a reasonable spell checker.
  • Saves to cloud seamlessly, with version control.
  • I like to write monolithically, Word is okay with this and doesn’t slow down with 100k+ word count.
  • It has good collaborative editing.

There are things it doesn’t do, and while it is a good hole to write into, I am always half looking for that ‘perfect’ tool. If I ever find it, I will jump ship, I have no loyalty to tools. Word, at this time though, it perfect for my needs.

Other tools I like and use a lot are…

  • Things 3
  • obsidian (public notes and writing notes.)
  • Upnotes
  • GoodLinks

These tools were not selected at random, there are reasons I have for using for each one. Reasons which I won’t bore you with, but each tool does have its own page on my site, which I linked, in the list above.

There are better tools

GREAT! - If you know of a tool you think I may not have looked at, I am supremely happy to get a message about it. Honestly, I am.

However, I do have some general, thoughts about my tools:

  1. I don’t want to self-host ANYTHING… not ever. I want a service, not a chore.
  2. I need my tools to work on macOS and IOS, because that’s what I use.
  3. I am not rooting, jail breaking or side loading anything.
  4. I don’t want to be responsible for the tool continuing to work. I want it to work auto-magically and I don’t care how.
  5. Something being free-software is not a selling point to me.

Now, I know, this list makes me sound unskilled and lazy. I am not either of these things.

I am, however, someone who values my writing time above software ethics. If I were to listen to the many people who email and comment on my videos, the common logic would lead me to believe that VIM with all the accoutrements is better than Word. the truth is, I did use this, I wrote my first novel in Vim, entirely!

I switched to Word when I realised that I was spending a lot of time tinkering with my editor, not my writing. And, I am in no way critical of people who want to use Vim. I eventually got it dialled in perfectly and was quite happy with it. But i always wanted to change a shortcut, or try a new plugin and it was exhausting (for me, personally. I know I could have left it along, but I didn’t.)

Word was better for my needs though, because it had pretty reasonable spelling and grammar tools, automatic version control, formatting options and work counting tool without me messing. I just install Word and open a document and start writing.

The killer feature of Word over Vim was multi-platform usage. I like to write on my laptop, my phone, my tablet, and whatever else I happen to be logged into. With Vim, I had to constantly check I was synced through whatever service I was using at the time. With Word, I just open the document and go ham.

Now, that’s not to say that there are no tools which I find tempting. Just recently, I made a video about the application Ulysses. It really is amazingly good. I was almost tempted to switch to it, though its collaborative tools are… well, it doesn’t have any. 🤨 - This on its own was not a deal-breaker for me, but, after some consideration, I realised, it was not replacing a current tool or improving any workflow in a way which was not purely aesthetic. It was only going to add a layer to my writing process. So, I am staying with Word for now.

What do you want then Hex?

Nothing. I never actually asked for advice on this topic. I am someone who is technically minded, willing to learn new workflows if I see a benefit, and, I have my fingers on the pulse of productivity products and writing tools.

As much as I am really happy to discuss tools and workflows, my own has been evolving well. I am sure that eventually something will come around which I see benefit to, and I will switch. Heck, maybe my needs will just change. But blindly recommending the tools that YOU use to me isn’t useful unless you’re taking into account my requirements, tastes and history, it’s likely not a good use of your time!


Yep. You love Vim! I know all about Vim! I loved Vim while I was using it. It was great. It was great on Linux, because I used a tiler and lived in the terminal anyway. It was not better on Windows, it’s not better on Mac, and it won’t be better on my iPad or my phone.

Vim is great for a specific workflow; one which I don’t have. I could set-up Vim to use cloud storage, automate version history, create exports, and setup typewriter scrolling, paragraph highlighting, grammar checking, advanced spelling correction and so much more… or, I could just use Word, Ulysses, Dabble, Apple Pages or any other pre-built tools on offer. Sure it would not be free software, it would not be self hosted and it would not be 1000% future proof. But, it would be really easy and cost me zero setup and maintenance time.

Portability, locking and compatibility

I know there is a logical argument that you should not allow your tools to lock you into a platform, workflow or product. I agree with this. What you are forgetting is that I write novels. Plain text can’t be locked in. I can convert that Docx to markdown in about one nano second. I can load a Docx is basically any other writing application. I am not locked in because I can copy and paste my text to anything!

You should try Libreoffice

I have. It was substandard for my needs it lacked the comfort and elegance of Word. It was ugly. It was slow when I edited 100k+ documents (not at first, but it slowed down as I worked with the text) and, if I’m going to use a word processor that isn’t Word, I would just use Scrivener. Because I like it better than alternatives.

You could use Google Docs

Yes. I don’t like it. It gets really slow at navigation when you are over about 50k words. I want to jump around my document and multi-window and leave it open for hours at a time. Online tools are not great at this.

Bit if you use tool name you could return to Linux

I don’t want to. I was mostly happy on Windows, now I’m happy on MacOS. I have no reason to return to Linux. I may do, one day, but right now I just want to write books and not tinker with things. Tinkering with things is in my nature and in order to minimise it, I stay on tinker free platforms.

And finally

I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I don’t want to sound like I’m not interested in conversations about things. I am. But I get a LOT of people recommending hyper technical workflows and tools, things that I am well aware of, and already chose not to use. If you want to have a conversion, then great. If you want to push your tool preferences on me, I don’t want to listen.

Also, please don’t assume I am not using Vim because I am not technically savvy enough to set it up. This is not only insulting to me (or whomever you are talking to) but also it is silly, given that I made and published many Vim videos on my YouTube channel.

I just like things that you don’t. Also, please note, these things I am using are not edgy, hipster tools. I am using Word! The most widely used editor on the planet earth!

Thank you for taking the time to read! Please do email me or join the discord server if you want to talk about writing, or, after reading this, you still think there is a tool I have not thought about using. I would love that.



This Was written by HexDSL, if this was liked by you, you can email him at Hexdsl@gmail.com or use this link to join Discord