Home » Writing Advice » Get with the Times! Upgrading Software to Benefit Your Writing

Get with the Times! Upgrading Software to Benefit Your Writing

8-03-5So I’ve been a bit stubborn. For twelve years, I have been an avid user of Microsoft Word 2003. Yes, you heard me: Word 2003. You may be asking why I haven’t bothered to upgrade. And that’s a great question.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the greatest answers:

Force of habit?

A dislike of change?

Sheer willpower?

Having gotten more involved with editing in the last year, I’ve inevitably started running into problems with using older software. I’ve had to run compatibility programs to open docx. files (which didn’t arrive until 2007), risking conversion errors. Microsoft stopped updating Word 2003 as of 2013. My installed version has corruption issues with track changes, meaning I risk losing my edited work if I don’t save constantly. The disc is currently across the Atlantic Ocean, so I can’t even reinstall to see if that would solve my problem.

When I put it that way, I suppose my stubbornness now just hinges on stupidity. (I refuse to admit I’ve crossed the line, but think what you will.) When I told a friend about my refusal reluctance to upgrade, I got a link to xkcd in response.

I’d say that about summarizes it.

In the past, I’ve heard great things about other programs, such as Scrivener, but as a diehard Word fan, I’ve refused to even try it.

I’ve probably been capable of getting a student discount on a more recent version of Word for . . . quite some years. But I never bothered.

Word 2003 has worked for me. We get along. We understand one another. Those corruption issues? We’re still talking those out.

Yes, you see the problem now, I’m sure. So how did I get past this roadblock and enter the modern world?

I was forced into it. I got a work computer.

Without actually having to purchase the software myself, I’ve been able to finally test the waters with Word 2013. So far, despite my initial frustrations with all the tabs, I’ve started to enjoy the utility of the program. It has certainly made my editorial life much easier. After all, I like being able to work without worrying that the software will crash on me in the middle of an important job.

What should you take away from my personal experience?

If someone you know is suffering from Refusal to Upgrade Illness, call an intervention. Tie them up so they can’t harm you, then remove the software from their computer and install a newer version. Bar any access to older versions until the withdrawal symptoms have lessened. If needed, lock them in a room.

If you are still clinging to the past, quit. Get the upgrades you need to complete the tasks in the most efficient way possible. If you’re having to compensate for errors or a lack of functionality, it’s time to move forward with something more practical. It doesn’t take too long to learn how to use a new version of a program, and the results from taking the extra time to properly learn it will far outweigh the refusal to try. This goes for more than just software. Don’t just do this to meet the standards of the current industry; do this for your writing. For you.

Sometimes you find that it ends up working out better than you initially imagined.

So now I’ll announce to the world:  Word 2003, you’ve been a good friend to me, but I’ve got to get with the times.

Has anyone else clung to a particular outdated program or piece of technology, even when it would be wiser to upgrade? Let me hear your confessions in the comments!

11 thoughts on “Get with the Times! Upgrading Software to Benefit Your Writing

  1. My day job in being in charge of IT for a small insurance company. We keep everybody up to date, so I’ve never been too far behind the curve. I still cling to Live Writer for blogging, even though Microsoft stopped updating it. It does a much better job than Word.

    • I think it’s okay to cling to our old preferences, especially if they still do the job we need them to do. But I’m definitely seeing the benefits of trying newer software thanks to my job. Thanks for sharing!

  2. hahahah – lol! I use Word 2007 – Word 2013 costs more money, but this diehard #WordAddict refuses to use Scrivener too! 😉

    Word just feels comfortable. More importantly, I can play with the fonts while drafting my pieces, which inspires me to write 😉

    Thank you, Michelle #HUGSS


    • I agree. Word is a comfortable program for me, too. I like the linear layout of it. I like the different view options in Word 2013 too. Makes it feel more fluid, which is a nice touch. 🙂

  3. I can relate to your technological clinging tendencies as I have done the same on many different occasions – specifically, I have only owned a cell phone for a little over two years. I convinced myself that I didn’t really need one. And perhaps, I didn’t. But, now that I have one, I can’t imagine how I “survived” without it.

    On a more abstract level, I really like what you say about clinging to things outside of technology, like writing. I used to only write non-fiction. I would never write a story, I told myself. Lo and behold, I have done that. Then, I convinced myself that I would never write a poem, but I did – however malformed it may have been.

    So, now I stare at the prospect of new writing adventures – a novel, a collection of short stories, self-publishing them maybe. Will I say never? Not anymore, I think I may have learned my lesson. Letting go is sometimes a very, very good thing 🙂

  4. Come on, Michelle. You can try Scrivener FOR FREE for 30 days, so you have nothing to lose. And, because I know and love you, I can say this…SUCK IT UP! You’re much too young to already be this stubborn and old! 🙂

    I wrote all four of my novels in Word. Why? Because it was my only choice. Last year, I bought Scrivener because I heard soooo many writers rave about it at a conference. I tried to transfer my novel to Scrivener, but the learning curve was too steep and stopped.

    However, I started writing all my blog drafts in Scrivener + a nonfiction book and can officially say, “I love Scrivener.” It does so many things Word cannot do + there a video tutorials to teach you how to use Scrivener.

    I still use Word…some, but all my future books will be written in Scrivener. Love it.

    • I know, I know. I’ve no excuses at this point! -sigh- 🙂 I may give Scrivener a try one of these days to see what all the fuss is about. I think the other Muses all use it, so I have heard a lot of good things about it. It’s food for thought, at least.

  5. I used Libre Office (like a free version of Word that was as functional as Microsoft Works) for years because I didn’t want to pay for Word. However, I bought it with the student discount and now I’ll have it for 3 more years. After that I’m hoping that book sales will pick up enough to be able to purchase the non-student version without it being a burden.

  6. I use MS office 2003 as well. I can’t stand the new UI they have implemented, and much like you, I refuse to change. I don’t like changes, especially when they are made for the sake of change without improving anything else. My motto is “If something works, you don’t mess with it.”

    • Yes! My thoughts exactly. The UI is my main issue, too. I dislike constantly clicking through tabs, and I don’t want to have to search for things. I realize Word 2003 seems outdated for most, but it’s the simplicity of it that I like so much.

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