Hello, friends! Let’s talk about writing with Scrivener for a bit, shall we?
Writers seem to either love Scrivener or they hate it, and I’m going to guess that the ones who hate it also don’t feel comfortable using it. When I first downloaded a trial version of Scrivener, I used it on and off for a few weeks, didn’t really get anywhere past the actual document view, and eventually decided Microsoft Word would do just fine for me, thank you very much.
But then I learned that my best writing friend Sarah used it, and I generally think everything she does is wonderful. So when Scrivener offered a month-long trial during NaNoWriMo last year, I decided to take the plunge again. And boy, am I glad I did!
In the coming weeks, I plan to do a bit of writing about the things I love most about writing with Scrivener (think compiling research, creating outlines, etc.), but for now I thought it would be best to start off with a little listicle about the software program for writers and why it’s enticed me to stick around for good this time.
Three Different Views for Surveying Your Story
Scrivener has three different modes for writing and reviewing the pieces of your story: the Editor, the Corkboard, and the Outliner. Each one has its own pros and cons, but when you use them together as you work through the various stages of a writing project, it’s pure magic.
I use the Outliner for seeing all of my scenes/chapter in order, the Editor for actual writing, and the Corkboard for when I want to try moving things around and need a more visual representation of my novel, what I’ve written of it so far, and what still needs to happen. Options are great, and these three options are specifically crafted to be the best for writers.
All Your Research in One Place
Before Scrivener, I kept writing notes in a million different places and could never quite remember where I had put what. I have a writer’s notebook that I’ll jot ideas into when I want to actually write with paper and pen. Sometimes I’ll make notes on my phone and then forget about them for months. And I used to use OneNote when working between multiple devices, but I no longer trust cloud-based services after a particularly nasty deletion fiasco.
With Scrivener, I can keep all of my research together: Word docs, photos, PDFs, and random notes, thoughts, and ideas. I can categorize them with keywords or pair them with specific chapters that I’m writing. No more digging around in twelve different places for a “What If?” question or piece of dialogue that wouldn’t leave my brain one afternoon.
Easy-to-Set Targets for Your Entire Manuscript and Day-to-Day Writing Progress
I love keeping track of my writing. It’s probably a holdover from the few times I’ve done NaNoWriMo, and Scrivener helps indulge me. I can track the number of words I’ve written in a work session compared with my target word count for the day. It will also show me how close I am to the estimated total of my manuscript, the number of pages, words, and characters, and much much more. For a word nerd, I’m super into these numbers!
Custom Meta-Data to Keep Track of What’s Important to You
Outlines tend not to work for me because they often don’t include the things I want them to. Sometimes it’s a specific way of tracking time; other times it’s character point of view. With custom meta-data, Scrivener lets you track anything you want, but also gives you the ability to display whatever meta-data you’d like in Outliner mode.
No Distractions Full screen Mode
To err is human. So is sitting down to work on your novel and looking up from YouTube an hour later with zero words added to your word count.
No distractions mode is just that: a full screen experience that you can customize to keep yourself focused on the end game. It makes writing with Scrivener effortless (or as effortless as writing a freakin’ novel can be).
Alright, now that I’ve told you my favorite things about Scrivener, I want to hear from you. What do you love? And what do you hate? What do you want to know more about? Help me help you get the most out of writing with Scrivener, too.
P.S. If you’re looking for more awesome writing tools, might I suggest Pacemaker?