Writing Well With Scrivener

ScrivenerSome writers are able to produce epic work no matter their situation or circumstance.

You know the type. The rare few who are able to conjure up a masterpiece with nothing more than a piece of paper and a pencil, during their lunch hour, without losing focus or quality.

Realistically, most of us aren’t like that. We need the right environment, the right level of focus and the right motivation to allow the words to flow.

It can be difficult to find that ideal situation to create the work we want. Often, we self-sabotage by using the wrong tools in the wrong way. If your writing process involves wasting time and energy switching between your research and your actual writing, there is a better way of doing things.

Have you heard of Scrivener? It’s a piece of writing software which offers a whole host of features not available elsewhere. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re interested in upgrading to the favored writing tool of many famous authors, it has a lot to offer.

All Your Research In One Place

No matter if you write fiction or nonfiction, it’s likely that you’ll need to carry out research to make your project the best it can be.

To create a quality nonfiction book, it’s important to source ideas and information, condense them down, and add value to them in order to really offer something beneficial to your readers and solve their pain points.

Before using Scrivener, my research and writing process consisted of an unholy alliance between Google Docs, a ton of browser tabs and a mishmash of Evernote files. Switching between all of the different research sources wasted time and opened the door to procrastination and inefficiency.

One cool thing about Scrivener is it allows you to have all your research to hand in the same environment that you actually write in. This ensures everything is in one place and can be used in the most effective way possible. Knowing that everything is in one place saves you time and stress.

If you write fiction, it’s really useful to be able to have all of your character and setting notes, plot outlines and other aspects in one environment. You can write with the confidence that anything you need to check is just a click away, and you won’t lose focus by having to open up another piece of software.

Enhanced Productivity And Focus

Every writer has a different approach to productivity.

Some advocate for writing only when the creative juices are flowing, feeling that this is the best way to produce quality work.

Others section out a block of time which they dedicate to writing, and do not allow themselves to stop until their time has elapsed, regardless of how many words they write in that time period.

A final approach is to set a quantified writing target, for example 2000 words a day, and only stop once it has been met.

Scrivener works well for all three approaches. If you prefer to write when you are feeling inspired, having all of your book’s notes, outlines and revisions in one environment allows you to put your creative wave of inspiration towards actually writing, rather than having to dig out all of your research first, losing your inspiration in the process.

If you favor writing for a set period of time, Scrivener helps you to get the most out of that time period. It has a beautiful full screen composition mode which allows you to filter out all other distractions and get into the zone.

If quantified targets are more your thing, Scrivener has that ability as well. You can set a session target and then watch a visual progress bar as you work, which is really motivational.

Of course, Scrivener isn’t a magic pill. You still need to have a project in mind that you are committed to creating. Scrivener won’t do your job for you, but it will make it a lot easier.

Templates To Offer Structure And Variety

Some writers find plotting and templating goes against their instinct to create as freely and openly as possible. Stephen King, for example, believes his best stories are written when he allows them to develop organically.

On the other hand, a lot of writers prefer to have an outline or sketch of where their story is going. This can range from a very loose and limited three act structure, to a more complex level of plotting. Scrivener allows you to either create the outline you want, or easily import one suited to your needs. There are a whole host of Scrivener templates out there. You can easily modify an existing template to customize it the exact way you want.

Another cool thing about using templates is it can make it a lot easier to get started with a new style of writing entirely. Imagine, for example, you wanted to try your hand at a screenplay. Rather than having to take the time to research the proper format and process of screenplay writing, an existing template allows you to instantly understand the structure, and plug your own writing into it.

Scrivener Summary

Scrivener has really made a difference to the lives of countless writers. However, it’s not perfect. If you decide to use Scrivener, be prepared to –

  • Take the time to handle the Scrivener learning curve. Its complexity means it’s not instantly obvious how every feature works.
  • Invest money. Scrivener is affordable and is a one off fee. However, you need to be serious enough about writing that the investment makes sense for you.
  • Be accountable like never before. With Scrivener, there’s no hiding from a lack of progress!

If you’re happy with your existing writing software, Scrivener might not make sense for you. But if any of the benefits sound like they could add value to your writing life, I’d urge you to check it out. We’re all instinctively resistant to change, but when we step out of comfort zone and keep open-minded about new ways of working, we often are pleasantly surprised.


About the Author

Dave Chesson helps teach authors advanced book marketing tactics at Kindlepreneur.com. He’s also the creator of KDP Rocket, software that helps authors discover profitable book ideas that Amazon shoppers will love.