Productivity for Writers

Unashamed Windows user

I know most of the creative community is in love with Mac. I’m not. I’m a proud and happy Windows user.

I’m embarrassed about the number of friendly discussions I’ve had with Mac users that have rapidly deteriorated into sneering arguments about the intelligence of people who choose to use Windows, and the inconsistency of using an iPad but refusing to use a Mac!

Well yes – my fridge and my stove are different brands too. My mower is a Victa, my brushcutter a Stihl. Just because I drive a Honda, doesn’t mean I must wear Honda t-shirts. The Mac loyalty thing makes my head spin and yes I do get that it’s a neat all-in-one deal.

Anyway, I’m a happy PC user, I’ve been using Windows on PC since 3.1 and have found all kinds of solutions to help me solve problems over those years. I really don’t care to invest more time learning a new operating system or other new programs, quite happy thank you and yes I’m really happy that you’re happy with your Mac and I won’t ever try to convert you to PC, please give me the same respect.

I’ve been using Word ever since as well. I’ve used all kinds of other systems but Word is my thang; I’ve done a lot of job-work using it and I’ve learned to work around some of the things other people consider faults. Yes I hate the ribbon, I wish it would die a slow death. Yes I hate that sometimes Word thinks for you in ways that seem illogical. But that’s the way it is. Flow around it, I say.

So, from time to time I’ll post some hints I find helpful as a writer using Word, maybe it will help you. Here’s one:

See your book structure in Word

This is an awesome feature that Word has offered for years. It does mean you first have to learn to use Styles. But that’s so easy:

Click on the HOME tab.

word ribbon

See the Styles bar about halfway along? I bet you’ve always avoided that. But it’s dead easy to use, honest and the benefit of using styles is that if you decide you want all your chapter headings to be orange instead of black, you just change one of the headings to orange, then update the style. Voila, all the headings change to orange.

You can style anything in your document using styles – change paragraph spacing, add an indent at the beginning of every paragraph, change your font size or face, add a big space above your chapter title – all so easy using styles. So it’s worth investing a few minutes learning to use them. Once you’ve used styles you’ll never go back. (Yes, I do love styles 🙂

Like nearly everything else in Word, select the text you want to format, then click the style name. Go on, try it now.

Be sure to apply the same style to all your chapter headings. Select the heading,click the style name. All the way through the document.

Done? Okay – once you’ve added style magic, you’ll be ready to see your book structure in a way that lets you hop around easily.

Back to the ribbon. Click on ‘View’.


There’s a lot of interesting stuff on this (bloody) ribbon, but the magic for a writer happens in the ‘Show’ section. All you have to do here is click in the box next to ‘Navigation Pane’.


Your main window will split and a new pane will show up on the left hand side of the screen. (You can relocate this pane but that’s another post, one I’ll probably never write!)

Like magic, all your headings will show up in that pane, with your current location in the document highlighted:


Now I want to go to Chapter five, to take up where I left off yesterday. So I click on Chapter five in the navigation pane and tadah – there it is, at the top of the screen ready for action. Want to check on something in Chapter two? Just click the navigation pane and you’re already there.



Honestly, if you already use Word you already know everything you need to know to get writing. You don’t need to try or buy any of the ‘authoring’ software, especially not if it’s just a way for you to procrastinate about actually writing that book! Believe me, I went down that rabbit hole, believing it would increase my productivity in the long run. Nup, all it did was give me a ‘valid’ excuse to procrastinate 🙂

Word does a great job. Just add a few tiny little tweaks to the way you use it and you’re good to go. Now go write!

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