I’ve been using Google Docs for all sort of writing over the last few years. I’ve used it for papers, novels, even poetry. Like all programs, there are reasons for using Google Docs for writing, and there are reasons not to. I’ve compiled a little list of pros and cons. No matter if you’re writing a novel or a paper, You’re sure to run into these.
Pro: Internet based
With it being an internet based application it’s easy to write on the go. Not only can I bring any of my computers anywhere and write, I can write using the app on my phone! Sometimes when I have a minute before work, or while waiting for someone, or whenever inspiration strikes, I whip out my phone and jot it down. Sometimes I don’t have (or forget) my notebook, but I always have my phone. The only downside is that I’ve recently taken to jotting stuff down at stop signs. Don’t write and drive folks!
Also because it’s internet based you don’t have to worry about bad technology. If your computer crashes, or your phone breaks, you don’t have to worry about losing that file. It’s in the cloud, you can access it anywhere. Not only that, you don’t even need to stay on the same device. I’ll spend the morning writing on my phone and then edit on my computer in the afternoon.
Con: Internet based
There are problems with having an internet based writing application. One of the biggest is that you can’t always reach it. Sometimes you don’t have internet. Google Docs does have an offline feature that allows you to write without internet. But you have to turn it on and I’ve had problems with getting it to work in the past. If you’re someone like me who spends a lot of their time with little to no internet, it can be quite frustrating. Especially if you start writing and then it cuts out.
When Google Docs freezes I become truly and utterly frustrated. Often I won’t notice and keep typing, the next thing I know I’ve typed out a whole paragraph of nothing. I’m then jolted from my writer head space as I rush to find pen and paper and get down what I just wrote. But no matter what it always doesn’t come out as good as I thought the original piece was.
Pro: Automatic saving
The best thing about Google Doc is the automatic saving. You don’t have to worry about losing your work because it is always updating and saving what you’re writing. If you close the window or your computer dies, you don’t have to panic about losing what you were doing.
This isn’t just great for writers but also for people writing academic papers, or documents for work because you will never lose work you did. My school used Google Docs, but a few papers were sometimes not written with it. I can not tell you how many people I saw who accidentally closed their project without saving. Losing your work because of a computer crashing or forgetting to save is never fun. I don’t know why other applications don’t automatically save. It seems like a must to me.
Con: Versions aren’t always synced
Similarly to the internet freezing, I recently found out that versions of the same document don’t always sync up. Sometimes you start writing on your phone only to go to your laptop and find none of your work! After a brief amount of panic, you realize that the phone just didn’t upload to the internet. All your work is still saved on it.
On the computer version on Google Docs you can also install “Add-ons”. These applications enhance your experience and are customizable to whoever you are. The two greatest advantages to add ons are 1) You don’t have extra features you’ll never use taking up space and 2) anyone can create add ons so there is diversity in their uses. I have everything from a bibliography maker for scientific papers to a rhyme finder for writing poetry.
But of course, I can’t forget my favorite add on, WordPress.com for Google Docs. This add on is great for bloggers using Google Docs because I can write, edit, and publish blog post right from Google Docs. This is particularly awesome for writing on the go where WordPress.com isn’t great on a tiny screen but Google Docs has a phone app that works well. The Add-on also does not change any of the formatting from the Doc to the blog post which is extra convenient.
Con: Can’t see word count
This is mostly an issue for people writing papers or other pieces with a word limit. Unlike other writing applications, Google Docs doesn’t have the word count at the bottom of the screen. To get the word count you have to press shift+control+c. Often this isn’t a big deal. However, if you’re writing something with a word count bracket (No more then, no less than) it can be rather annoying. There are Add-ons to fix this but I have yet to find a good one.
This is the one thing that makes Google Docs appealing to new and aspiring writers. As a writer with an operating budget of zero, I like Google Docs because it’s completely free! You don’t even have to install it on your computer, all you need is a Google Account.
So I’m sure you’re curious if I recommend Google Docs to writers. My response is, use what is comfortable to you. I’m used to Google Docs, I like that it’s reliable, automatically backed up, and free. If you like writing on Word, write with Word, if you want to explore your options, do it. You’re the writer, use what’s best for you.
Or if you don’t have those you can also like my Facebook page in the sidebar and get all the updates.