No, this isn’t a diatribe about money (although I prefer cash myself, it’s so much easier to keep track of how much I have when it’s right there in my hands). This is a weighing of whether it is better for an author do do their work with pen and paper or by strictly electronic means, which is becoming an increasingly popular option in today’s digital world with all the fun gizmos and gadgets for free alone out there intended to aid writers.
Firstly, I’ve tried several of those free aids. They’ve not helped me with anything that I can’t do (more easily) with pen, paper, notebooks, and a good three-ring binder. Organizing characters, keeping track of scenes written on inspiration, separating chapters by viewpoint. I can do all of that with a pen and paper. For some people this might be a nice tool, but I really don’t see the point in it.
Personally, all my planning stages are done by hand. Even when I’m co-writing something and make a digital copy of an outline, I do it by hand first. Some people might prefer digital, but I like the idea that I can draw things out in any shape, length, or style that I want. If I want to write everything in a spiral, I can write everything in a spiral. I never do this, but the option is still there, and I like options.
That’s not to say that digital life doesn’t have it’s uses. I’m not typing up manuscripts hundreds of pages long on a manuscript! I still use word processors like everybody else. But when a scene comes to me at random for a later point in a story, I put it in a notebook pertaining to that story, or on loose leaf paper that I stick into the binder for that story so I can keep things ordered. Typing them up and arranging it later leaves too much room for error.
I have no doubt in my mind that someone somewhere is getting plenty of use out of digital writing tools. I know for a fact that E. M. McBride is a fan of Write or Die. I can’t do it. My attention span is too short. Before you go and actually purchase some fancy writing software, though, I encourage you to consider investing in some great physical assets like proper pens and paper. Sometimes just finding the right brand of pen can make all of the difference.