Should you buy that nifty writing software?

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My clients are mid-career professionals who want to write a book to improve their reputation. They are often tempted to buy a piece of sophisticated writing software to help them with this new endeavor.

Henry Thoreau said, “beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.” I feel the same way about writing projects that require new software. Whether you are like my clients or not, here are some things to consider before you commit to a nifty new bit of software.

Ease of use usually beats power.

If you have a choice between software that’s easy to use and software that’s powerful but complex, take easy every time. Powerful, but complex software takes time to learn and often requires you to solve problems you didn’t know you had. Easy to use software is software you’re likely to use day after day after day.

How much will you have to change your habits?

My clients are experts in their subject. They’re used to explaining it. They may not ever have written a book before, but they’ve done a lot of writing. Many of them have also done keynote speeches and training on their subject. They developed habits and processes that are comfortable and work for them.

Ask yourself if you will have to adapt to the software. You may have to change the way you work. That won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick.

Will you use this software for anything but this new project?

Think about why you’re considering this specialized software. If it’s just for a single book project, you will probably put a lot of effort into learning something you’ll abandon when your project is done.

Think about the cost benefit ratio.

You’re going to shell out some dollars for this new software, but that’s not the only investment. There will certainly be time cost as you learned to use the program well. There may be expenses for books, consulting, or training to help you get the most out of your investment.

There are opportunity costs, too. Every minute you spend wrestling with your new software is a minute that you’re not spending writing your book, building your business, or spending time with loved ones.

Do your friends or colleagues use the software?

If you have friends or colleagues who already use the software you are thinking about buying, that’s a good thing. Those folks will be your own personal helpdesk.

Takeaways

Ease of use usually beats power.

How much will you have to change your habits?

Will you use the software for one project or many?

Think about the cost benefit ratio.

Do your friends or colleagues use the software you’re thinking about buying?

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