Here’s why Scrivener can easily become your one love for organizing your research and writing.
I came late to the Scrivener party, when I’d written half of my novel, A Habit of Hiding. But this writing program has been my one love ever since. We’ve been through some tough times together, and have always grown stronger for it. Now that I’m researching my historical fiction novel as I write, I can’t imagine keeping it together without Scriv (my affectionate nickname for my beloved writing parter). No longer must I hunt for what I’ve gathered. Scriv helps me store it all under one roof, and find it at a glance.
I’m a believer in specific items suited to specific tasks—I’ve written much HERE about using Adobe Lightroom to tame the beast that is my image collection of 24,688 photographs, and I’m passionate about its merits. Scrivener is equally impressive in its far-less-costly and much-less-resource-intensive way. While most photographers in our universe use Lightroom, I’ve found far fewer writers using Scrivener.
Here are the Top Five excuses I hear:
1. It’s confusing to learn.
You’re afraid of learning something new? You’re a writer! You eavesdrop on conversations every chance you get, right? You dive into research like a pelican plunging into the ocean, don’t you? Aren’t you capable of losing yourself for days online just because you Googled one tiny stat for your blog?
2. I’ve been using Word forever.
And it never crashes on you, does it? Never announces you need a critical security update the instant you launch it, though your head is ablaze with the fervor of a new plot line, and your fingers are poised to pound out the words that are flowing like raging floodwaters?
3. I’ve got everything organized in folders and bookmarked in my browser.
And you can put your cursor on the proper folder every time, right? No hunting around, trying to recall which folder it’s in and where you filed it? No futile searches that won’t cough up the third chapter you discarded but now realize is better? And you never burrow down into the internet rabbit hole when you’re reviewing your bookmarks, right?
4. That’s what Post-It Notes, folders, books and journals are for.
Don’t you have so many post-it notes stuck to your monitor that your view of those lovely words you’re writing is infringed? Aren’t you distracted from your latest plot twist when the ones that have been stuck there the longest lose their stickiness and float onto your keyboard? Don’t you waste a lot of time paging through all those journals and file folders, looking for the one nugget you wrote down on some napkin that will fully sketch out your antagonist?
5. My 642 color-coded index cards work just fine.
How many times have you crossed them out and rewritten them and then had to reorder them and then found you had to renumber them? And when you finally laid them all out chronologically on the living room floor (kneeling there, because they were too vast to fit on the dining room table), and rearranged them so many times your knees began to scream, the dog chased the cat through the room and messed them all up?
The bottom line is this. You used a binder in high school, didn’t you? Well, that’s what Scrivener is: One very powerful binder for all of your research and words.
You’ll learn Scrivener by using it. That’s how you’ll learn to love it, too, since you’ll always be discovering new ways to use Scrivener. And you’ll come to appreciate it the most as your one-stop shop for all of your writing materials.
You’ll love how you’re able to focus on your words, because you’ve gathered everything—notes, research, websites, images, soundtracks, videos, random files, even texts copied from ebooks—under Scriv’s very sound roof.
You’ll soon be dragging and dropping files and sites and images (even videos!) into Scrivener with abandon, no longer having to hunt around for them or switch between applications or launch websites.
You’ll find yourself rearranging and organizing the color-coded index cards you’ve created for your scenes, chapters and ideas on your corkboard, and rewriting them on the fly. Your index card budget can be repurposed for redecorating your writing space.
You’ll be consulting your general notes and your document-specific notes distraction-free from those Post-Its that once circled your monitor like vultures looming for the kill.
There are lots of resources, most of them free, for learning how to use Scrivener, starting with the tutorial built right into the program when you launch it. If you’ve already got a manuscript in progress, you can import it into Scrivener and keep writing—that’s how I learned it, in addition to consulting these sites:
- Literature and Latte, the company behind Scrivener where you can always download a free trial
- Scrivener Support at its TenderApp where you can search a comprehensive how-to database
- Scrivener on Twitter where @ScrivenerApp tweets tips and retweets user tips and blog posts from its many fans
- Scrivener’s HowTo Videos where you can watch and learn the essentials, or do a deeper dive
- Your Guide to Scrivener is Nicole Dioniso’s $1.99 ebook, worth keeping handy on your Kindle desktop or iPad app
- Search for YouTube Videos and blog posts on Scrivener and you’ll get up to speed fast and free
- Get visual with this Pinterest board on Scrivener and learn by viewing
- Join and ask questions of user groups like the very active and responsive Google+ Scrivener Users group
Here are a few visuals to show you what Scriv does for me—besides tidying up my workspace faster than an iRobot Roomba:
What’s missing from Scrivener? Not much. But to be frank, there are two things I’d like to have built in:
- A timeline-building function (As a workaround, I create my timelines in Excel, and drag the file icon into Scrivener for a direct link, or copy/paste it to preserve its tables as a read-only scaleable graphic)
- A browser extension (For clipping and saving directly from websites, similar to the Evernote extension)
But rest assured, what’s missing from Scriv is minor, compared to how essential it’s become in our creative relationship.
“And finally, my eternal gratitude to Scriv for your unfailing organizational prowess and your readiness to tackle any writing challenge. Your grateful author thanks you.”
Convinced? I’d love to hear how you use Scrivener in the comments.
You can read up on its features and download a free trial of Scrivener HERE (I don’t get a dime, I’m just one of the legions of fans). If you decide to purchase it, you can frequently find a coupon code for savings, or a better price from a reseller, if you hunt around online. Hat tip to the Daily Post for its weekly photo challenge, which dovetails so nicely with this writer’s One Love: Scrivener.
You can get a sneak peek of my upcoming novel:
For more on the art of writing, look HERE.