For me, Scrivener is up there with books, dogs, and peanut butter. If you have ever had a conversation with me, you know how high of a compliment that is.
I genuinely feel that if you are a writer of any sort (including academic) and have not used Scrivener, you are missing out on something.
Let me start at the beginning.
My evolution of writing tools went something like this: crayons, pencils, mechanical pencils, pens, word processor, Scrivener.
I used Word for a long time. It worked, sort of. It’s fine for short stories and poems, but if you have ever tried to write a novel in Word, you know that it crashes the second you start counting your words in ten-thousands. Sure, you can split your baby up in different files, but if you’re an indecisive creature like me, sometimes paragraphs move from chapter to chapter. And no, I do not want to open and search through twelve different files to figure out what color the minor character’s eyes are. Besides that, there’s page breaks and section breaks to deal with. Really, formatting a book in a typical word processor is just a mess.
Can you tell I did not have a good experience with Word?
How did I find it? NaNoWriMo, of course! I participated my junior year of high school, won, and received the magical Scrivener discount. However, I did not buy Scrivener at that time. I was still using my poor Toshiba laptop and had plans to go Mac. (If you’ve read my post about how to organize your writing, you know I have done so.) But alas, there was no Scrivener for Windows back then. (They have since rectified that situation.)
There was, however, a beta!
I downloaded it, tried it, and immediately fell in love. Let me point out that my first experience with Scrivener was a semi-buggy beta, without all the features it has now. And it was still fifty times better than Word.
The absolute first download I made after buying my Mac was Scrivener. And (hold onto your hats, folks). I paid full price for it.
Again, if you know me, you know how much of a compliment that is. I learned two things from my mother: go straight to the clearance rack and always check the “cheap grocery store” first. (To this day, I do not know the real name of that establishment.) So when I say I paid full price for something, it doesn’t matter if the price was two bucks or two thousand. That means I wanted it. Like I was going to spontaneously combust if I did not have said item in my possession.
So that’s the story of how I came to be a Scrivenite. (Real word? Doubtful, but I like it.) Let me come to the review portion of this review.
What is it?
It is rainbows, sunshine, and all that is good in this world.
(And also writing software.)
What's it good for?
Writers. And I use that term in its purest form. One who writes. Doesn’t matter what you write. I’ve learned that as I’ve used Scrivener for the past four years. I bought it with the intention of using it only for novel-writing, but I’ve discovered how great it is for short stories, too, and especially for academic writing. Instead of having six different files for research, outline, bibliography, draft, etc., I’ve got one Scrivener file with everything. And it’s all neatly arranged and sorted and searchable.
Okay, hold on. I’m getting excited. Let me stop and make a list.
Here are some Scrivener tools I use frequently:
(P.S. I’m using screenshots from my WIP.)
Have you ever used notecards to organize your scenes? Scrivener does the same thing! BUT here’s the awesome part. Those notecards? They are connected to the actual written scenes. So if you decide you want to move that scene from Chapter 2 to Chapter 7, you can drag and drop, baby. Also, if you prefer the hot mess approach to your notecards, check out the bottom of that split screen.
You’ve also got the option to label those puppies (Chapter, Notes, Idea, etc.) and give ‘em a status (To Do, First Draft, Revised Draft, Final Draft, etc.).
These are pre-installed. I use them in the prewriting stage and while I’m writing, as well. Jotting down notes about characters helps me flesh them out as I’m writing, and I can always glance over and check something about them if I forget.
I tend to be easily distracted by colorful objects at the bottom of my screen (namely that Safari button). Scrivener fixed that with Composition Mode. It blocks out all distraction, giving you a nice blank screen with your cursor planted firmly in the middle. (You can actually increase the transparency of that black part, but I couldn’t handle that.)
That reminds me, academic writing. I’ve got to mention it because Scrivener has made my life so much easier when it comes to planning and writing research papers.
Here’s how I used to do it:
Here’s how I do it now.
So much simpler, and I don’t lose things!
Have I mentioned I love Scrivener?
One more thing!
It’s so easy.
I hate formatting. Seriously. You can Google until your fingers bleed and make templates until your drive is full, but you will always make formatting mistakes. It’s the way of the beast. So the fact that Scrivener does it automatically makes me happy inside.
Rainbows and sunshine happy.
When you press “Compile” you get all these options. And you either check yes or uncheck no.
Yes or no.
If only all of life were that simple.
Scrivener uses the industry-standard format when it compiles your work. So you don’t have to worry about your name being in the wrong place or your pages not being numbered correctly. But you still have all the control if you want to switch things up. Feel like using Brush Script? Go for it. Just don’t send that to people. Please.
Ok ok ok... I'll wrap it up.
Last thing about Scrivener (I promise!): Even while using the Beta, I have never lost any work while using Scrivener. Anyone who has ever picked themselves up off the floor after losing 80k words of that 90k WIP knows how important that is.
(But I still use Dropbox just in case. ‘Cause, you know, I might drop my laptop off a cliff or something. Shit happens.)
If you have questions or want to hear more about Scrivener (I can seriously talk about this all day) shoot me an email! I’m pretty quick with responses so I won’t keep you in suspense too long.
If you think you’ll love Scrivener as much as I do, there are purchase links below. For Mac/Windows, Education License/Regular License.
Be aware that I do get a couple bucks if you decide to purchase Scrivener using these links. But before you brand me a sell-out and send me to the special hell (Firefly fans in the house?) know that I sought out the Scrivener affiliate program because I was uncomfortable hosting ads on my site for products I didn’t believe in. I would recommend Scrivener to a friend (and I have, on several occasions), and that’s why I’m recommending it to you. It has made my writing experience so much better and more productive—and I truly believe it will do the same for you. If you decide to go find yonder link that does not give me money, you should still buy Scrivener. I’ll forgive you. Eventually. (Hint: chocolate speeds up the forgiveness process.)
If you do decide to try Scrivener, let me know how you like it! And if you discover any fun tips and tricks.
Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!