Scrivener! The Writer’s Best Friend

17 Apr

I suppose one of the advantages to the new reality of first-time authors having to self-publish is that it forces us to learn so much about writing and publishing in general. For example, to learn more about marketing self-published books, I turned to Michael Hyatt’s modern classic PLATFORM – Get Noticed in a Noisy World. I learned that Mr. Hyatt uses Scrivener as his exclusive writing software / app.

Mr. Hyatt lists five reasons as to why he made the switch to Scrivener:

1. It provides a hierarchical file structure. I like this aspect of Scrivener, too, as I naturally tend to organize documents this way. For a simple example, think of a book, with its underlying chapters forming a hierarchy. The file structure of Scrivener can be exactly matched to your book’s structure, which, hopefully, has already been flushed out in the process of writing your book proposal. I’ve done this with Scrivener for my nascent Book Two:

My 2nd "child," in utereo

My 2nd “child,” in utereo

2. It has a distraction-free composition mode. Ultimately, a writer has to write. Scrivener’s composition mode is about as close to having nothing but a blank sheet of paper in front of you as you can get:

No distractions, so just write

No distractions, so just write

3. It was created with writers in mind. Scrivener has so many useful features, and you can use as few or as many as you would like. Some of these are:

– It organizes each project (i.e., a book) as a separate binder.
– It has helpful views besides basic writing, such as a cork board with file summary notes or an outline view.
– You can keep research articles (text, photos, etc.) together in a binder. For a non-fiction writer such as I, this is a significant feature.
– You can split your screen. Thus, I can view a research article (maybe a newspaper article, for example) while I am writing about it in the other half of the screen. Or, I can view footnotes in the 2nd screen as I peruse the main document.
– It has the stats a writer would want access to (e.g., word counts).
– It has an “inspector window where I can keep notes, track status, link to articles, or even create custom meta data.” (Hyatt)

What a great way to organize your writing

What a great way to organize your writing

4. It supports multi-markdown. According to Hyatt, this feature allows us as writers to separate the content creation phase (i.e., the writing) from the formatting, with Scrivener doing much of the work for us.

5. It allows for a variety of export options. This is potentially exciting for self-published authors, as Scrivener allows you to export directly to Kindle, iBooks Author, ePub, or PDF formats. This alone might make Scrivener worth its price of admission.

Hyatt mentions that he still uses Evernote as his main information warehouse, but that he does all his writing with Scrivener. I use both Evernote and Pocket for writing-relating information storage, and, as I am still relatively new to Scrivener, I am going to have to see how to work the relationship between these apps.

Think you might be interested in Scrivener? Check out the 10 minute An Introduction To Scrivener video.

If you’re interested, also note that Hyatt’s article says you can get a 20% discount by using his affiliate code MICHAELHYATT when purchasing it. Since it is now on sale for $45, the MICHAELHYATT discount code would reduce the price by $9, for a cost of $36. My preliminary use of Scrivener suggests that it is the real deal for serious writers, and I think that $36 is a fair price for a useful piece of software.

I’ve heard of other writings apps, such as the $100 Snowflake for the Snowflake Method, but have not used them.

From what I’ve seen so far, I wish I had had Scrivener to write Book One with, and I am certainly glad that I have it for Book Two. I’ll keep you updated as I get more familiar with Scrivener. For the record, I have no commercial interest with Scrivener; I bought my copy. (Scrivener is available for both Mac and Windows.)

44 Responses to “Scrivener! The Writer’s Best Friend”

  1. K. Q. Duane April 17, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Thanks for the information. If I ever get back to my book, I’ll be sure to purchase Scrivener. On second thought, do you know if you can convert Word documents to Scrivener? I would be interested in getting my existing manuscript onto Scrivener without retyping it. Could I, perhaps, copy and paste it to Scrivener?

    • navigator1965 April 17, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

      It literally is as easy as click-and-drag, drop-into-Scrivener (cut-and-paste of the text should work, too). Scrivener will do the conversion. I did this earlier today with my Book Two file from OpenOffice, and it worked perfectly.

      • K. Q. Duane April 17, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

        Ok! Good deal. Thanks for your input.

  2. Carol Balawyder April 17, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    I’ve been thinking about using Scrivener for some time. It’s all about this darn learning curve.
    On another subject, I’m off for a hiking trip soon and have taken your manuscript on my laptop. Hope that I’ll find time to read it. 🙂

    • navigator1965 April 17, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

      I didn’t find the learning curve to be too bad, Carol. I watched that 10 minute video a couple of times, and I was at basic functioning, which is enough to get going.

      Have fun on the hiking trip. If you don’t have time to read, that’s fine–enjoy the hiking, first and foremost! Cheers.

  3. suzjones April 17, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    Sounds interesting – particularly the part about the hierarchy controls. I’m assuming that would mean that you could go into each section and edit as you go.

    • navigator1965 April 17, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

      Absolutely, Sue. It treats each as a separate file, and then when it’s done, Scrivener complies it into one larger document.

  4. LindaGHill April 17, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

    I have the free 30 day trial sitting on my desktop but I haven’t tried it. I was actually told that if I was going to use it it would be better to start using it with a piece I’m just beginning, rather than putting my existing work onto it. My stuff is also on Open Office.

    It’s certainly tempting to just go ahead and use that coupon though…

    Thanks for this, Nav. I’ve been gathering info and opinions on Scrivener for almost a year already.

    • navigator1965 April 17, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

      You’re welcome, Linda. I wouldn’t have made the switch towards the end of Book One, so I can see the wisdom of starting a fresh project with it. It might be a good way of pre-writing blog posts, though.

      • LindaGHill April 18, 2014 at 11:09 am #

        I can see it would be, for the organization.
        Have a happy Easter! 🙂

        • navigator1965 April 18, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

          You, too, Linda. Happy Easter!

  5. Dalo 2013 April 17, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

    Thanks Nav for this info, while I have been debating such a purchase…mainly to organize past ideas/writing. You have given me another nudge to check it out more seriously, mainly because I also love new toys. Cheers.

    • navigator1965 April 17, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

      Glad it was helpful, Randall. I’m still fairly new, but hopefully I’ll get proficient with it in a reasonable time frame. It’s very easy to master the basics.

  6. barbarafranken April 18, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    Thanks for the great tip… have you heard from leftylola in a while (tellmeyourworsenightmare)? do you know what’s happened to her? Barbara

    • navigator1965 April 18, 2014 at 10:16 am #

      I’ve kept in contact with lefylola, Barbara. Like you, leftylola and her circumstances have touched me. I’m afraid she had regressed recently in terms of her condition, which is a serious, if not dangerous, development. She had to be admitted for full time care. Thankfully, this was done with minimal delay.

      I heard from her a few days ago when she was out on a day pass. I fear the emotional issues continue to plague her and weigh on her mind. I was thinking of doing a post, simply asking people to go to leftlola’s “about” page and leave a message of love and support.

      What do you think?

      • barbarafranken April 18, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

        i went there and nothing was on her blog… as if it had been swiped… that’s why i wondered if you knew what had happened or maybe she has another blog? It really sounds as if she needs full time care and attention, with professional 6th sense therapy.. you’ve seen that we’ve tried and if it’s all too much to take in, she’ll just feel more isolated… (I tried to help my daughter in law, but in the end she had to go into ‘lock-up’ for 2 months… It seemed to have done a world of good…

        • navigator1965 April 18, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

          Hopefully this will be as effective for her, as well. She really does deserve to be happy.

        • barbarafranken April 18, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

          Peoples happiness is in their own hands.. and that is what everyone has to realise through there own life experience… Our minds and body’s push us to the edge until we ultimately have to choose do we want to live or not… are we creators of our destiny or not… take care, Barbara

        • navigator1965 April 18, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

          I just went there, too, and see what you mean by it having been wiped. Maybe this was on Dr.’s orders. I do hope she is doing well, or at least has stabilized.

        • barbarafranken April 18, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

          We can send her love and light over the ethers, she will feel this and hopefully it helps her help herself, knowing she has friends who care… But at the end of the day it’s her journey and we cannot interfere in her experiences… (when we do… we are not honouring her ‘all-powerful self’)

        • navigator1965 April 18, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

          True, Barbara.

  7. Jazzybeatchick April 18, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    Thanks for the fantastic find. I have included in my repetoire all things subject to a personal triumph and learning matrix. I really love it when you steer and share newbies to something you stand behind. Nice…JBC 8=)

    • navigator1965 April 18, 2014 at 10:28 am #

      JBC, I’m glad you found the post useful. Strange, but I still consider myself somewhat of a “newbie.” Perhaps once Book One comes out, I’ll no longer feel as if still I am wet-behind-the-ears. There will still be so much to learn, of course, but that’s part of what makes life fun.

  8. Susan Irene Fox April 18, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    Hey, Nav, I’m quite tempted to try this out since I’ve been frustrated with Word for years. And since my project is non-fiction as well, this might be just the ticket. You’re always filled with great info. Sounds like the learning curve is easy, and that’s always my hesitation. I always feel like I need someone sitting next to me to help me figure it out. The price sounds right, though. I’ll give the 10 minute video a try and if I understand it, I’ll give it a go. 🙂

    • navigator1965 April 18, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

      After the demo, you can give it the free trial, too, to see if it really works for you. I’m not certain who long the sale lasts, but using the free trial for at least a few days should give you an idea of whether or not Scrivener is for you.

      There’s also an interactive tutorial built-into Scrivener. Good luck, and I hope this (or somethings else) solves your MS Word frustrations.

      • Susan Irene Fox April 18, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

        Thanks again. I actually think I’m going to opt for the free trial since I have Windows, and their website said the Windows version may not have all the bells and whistles of the Mac version (bummer).

        • navigator1965 April 18, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

          No worries, Susan. Free trial sounds like a prudent way to approach it. Plus, it’s 30 days of actual free use. Your weekends off don’t count again the 30. Quite generous.

  9. Carrie-Anne Foster (thatdizzychick) April 19, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    From a blogger aspect, how do you think Scrivener would work? Hmmm might have to check out the free trial.

    I am in geek love with Evernote. And I recently found Pocket, which is simply dynamic, as I am on my mobile 90% of the time. I use my laptop for design/writing, so Pocket is a dream.

    • navigator1965 April 20, 2014 at 8:59 am #

      I love Pocket – it’s so convenient for hoarding interesting web articles for later retrieval. I can see how being on your phone so much would make Pocket a Godsend. Hyatt says that he uses Scrivener for blog posts, too, so I’ll have to try it and see how it works.

      Evernote is great, too. I’m looking forward to see how to make all three work together as effectively as possible.

  10. Sherri April 22, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    Hi Nav, I’m just catching up after take a few days off after Easter, can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get over here! I hope you had an enjoyable Easter weekend. I enjoyed hearing about my eldest son’s recent trip to California 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing this. As I’ve said many times before, I’m so new to this so it’s really helpful to be able to read great tips such as these. I am using plain old Word on my laptop for my book as I write away for the time being. Quite what I do when I’ve finally written the first draft and get to the editing part I don’t know. Since I’m battling just to get it written (time constraints are my problem) I don’t think I need to cross that bridge right now, so I will be bookmarking this post for a later date!!

    Very grateful, that I am – Sherri 🙂

    • navigator1965 April 22, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

      Hi Sherri,

      I had a splendid Easter, thank you. In-laws visited, and my parents and one of my two sisters came over with her husband for a nice lamb dinner.

      Similar to you, I wrote my first book with OpenOffice. It’s not as if it can’t be done. However, when one has the time to learn something like Scrivener, you get to see how it helped keep your writing better organized. This will prove important to me with the sequel, as there is a reasonably significant number of reference articles.

      I can see it being helpful in fiction, too, as you can keep plot summaries and character sketches and the like handy within the same project “Binder.”

      But you’re quite right, it’s a bridge you needn’t cross at the moment. Never enough hours in the day, is there?! Oh, to be a self-sufficient writer with one of those lovely writer’s dens, with a gorgeous and inspiring mountain view, able to devote hour after hour of passion to writing when the inspiration strikes, without an ancillary care in the world.

      For me, at least, it’s now bad to reality. };-)>

      • Sherri April 23, 2014 at 8:23 am #

        Your Easter sounds wonderful Nav, so happy for you. We had our traditional lamb dinner too, delicious 🙂

        Scrivener does sound so good and definitely worth looking into when the time comes. Sounds perfect for you now, and thanks again for letting us know about it and sharing what you’ve learned in the process.

        Well now you’ve just written the perfect scene Nav…but where’s that mountain view you speak of?? Ahh well, we can but dream. As you say, back to reality…

        Have a great week my friend 🙂

        • navigator1965 April 23, 2014 at 8:36 am #

          I think if we were around Vancouver, British Columbia, we’d both the Rocky Mountains and orcas swimming in the Pacific Ocean. So long as there were no killer earthquakes or tsunamis or rogue grizzly bears, it would be idyllic as far as being a writer’s paradise.

          A fine week to you as well, dear Madam Sherri.

        • Sherri April 23, 2014 at 8:59 am #

          Vancouver is beautiful, I visited with my children back in the 90’s, I have a British friend who lives there. It’s stunning isn’t it?

          Well, sitting here in my little English house looking out over my garden, I may not have the Rockies or the Orcas but neither do I have any of those dangerous things to worry about- unless you can call the birds on my feeder dangerous, lol! – so I should be grateful for small mercies I suppose!

          Hope the view is wonderful wherever you are today Nav, and a fine week to you too 🙂

  11. Susan Lattwein April 23, 2014 at 7:51 am #

    Thanks for sharing. I can see the Navigator coming out. 🙂

    • navigator1965 April 23, 2014 at 8:00 am #

      My pleasure, Susan. The more we support one another, the easier the authoring journey becomes.

  12. jennifer Windram April 23, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    I’ve had “buy scrivener” on my to do list for months (along with about a million other things I can’t seem to get done – yet I find time to play Candy Crush…). But this was just what I needed to make it happen. It is downloading right now and I can cross one more thing off that pesky list. Thanks for sharing the coupon code!

    • navigator1965 April 23, 2014 at 6:02 pm #

      Hi Jennifer, So glad that the post was a useful one and the coupon code saved you a few dollars. Hopefully Scrivener will be as helpful to you as it seems to be for me.

      Those “to-do” lists only seem to ever get bigger, not smaller. At least, that’s how it seems to be with me.

      • jennifer Windram April 23, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

        I think it will be. I’ve been writing in Word or Pages and the editing process has been a nightmare. Everything I’ve read about Scrivener has been good and I’ve wanted to buy it for some time. I just needed the coupon to add that little extra incentive.

        • navigator1965 April 23, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

          I suppose that we shall have to share notes and traverse the dreaded learning curve together, then.

          I confess: I didn’t think to use the Hyatt discount code when I bought. You’re already ahead of me! (And you make the coolest festive hats.)

  13. bethteliho April 25, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    Where have you been all my blogging life? I was checking out your blog on my phone last night and thought holy hell, I need to read this on my computer! You have great info on here! I bought Scrivner in January and found the learning curve a bit much in the middle of editing my MS. I need to use it when I start something new. I’m editing (feverishly) now, so don’t really have time to mess with it, but I’m looking forward to it when I have time to figure it out.

    • navigator1965 April 25, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

      Hi, Beth. I likely would have found Scrivener to be the same as you, had I tried to adapt to it in the middle of my forthcoming book. I did find the 10 minute Intro video to be very easy to follow and get up and running with the basics. Scrivener might be one of those things that pays dividends if you have the time and the patience (and perhaps technical aptitude) to really get to learn how it works and what it can do.

      Thanks for your kind words. It’s great to have you here.

  14. bethbyrnes April 26, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    Good to know about Scrivener, should the need for this kind of software arise. Interesting information.

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