Is Scrivener right for you?

Maybe you’re lucky enough to be full-time writer. If so, writing tools like Scrivener would most likely benefit your organization, brainstorming and overall productivity.

But what about part-time writers? Is it worth the $45.00? In short, yes.

My life is busy with an independent 7-year-old and one highly dependent, active, feisty, trouble-making toddler. No, busy is not the word. Chaotic. That is my life for approximately fifteen hours a day. If I want to sleep (and I do!) there is not much time left for writing.

As a part-time writer, I have to be completely organized and ready to WRITE the moment I sit down to do so. I can’t wait until I’m in the mood. I don’t have time to re-read the first six chapters of my novel to catch up to what I should be writing today. If I re-read yesterdays writing, I will certainly be revising instead of writing.

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Hello, I’m Kelley, and I’m addicted to revising. It’s a problem as it halts all forward motion. I just write in circles. Around and around I go…

This is why Scrivener has become my new BFF. It’s laid out in a way that I can outline and write in small chunks in those blessed moments when the house is silent. (The good silent, not the kids-are-sneaking-into-the-chocolate-stash silent.)

Here’s what I love so much about it:

  • Everything is set up in a hierarchically organized binder. You can subdivide these sections according to preference. (I keep it simple and break mine up into chapters and then individual scenes within those chapters.)
  • I can drag and drop scenes or entire chapters to reorder them without cutting and pasting. If I’ve written a scene that doesn’t have a home yet, it can wait in a collection area until I have a place to put it.
  • I can pull my research right into the binder so I don’t have to search for it again. Documents, images, URL’s – it all pulls in beautifully for easy access.
  • I’m a sucker for post-it note/index card brainstorming.  The cork board mode in Scrivener fills that love – organizing scenes, beats, topics, motivation, conflict, etc. Drag it around to reorganize the chain of events, and it automatically updates your outline.
  • Split screen views allow you to see your writing on one side and your character images, setting photographs, research, outline, footnotes, etc. on the other side. I like to put my corkboard with the scene purpose on one side to keep my writing focused on that goal.
  • And my #1 favorite feature: The daily word count goal. Set a deadline, specify which days of the week you want to write, and Scrivener will tell you how many words per day you need to type to reach your goal. When you meet your daily goal, an alarm pops up reminding you how spectacularly motivated and focused you are.

Here’s what I don’t love so much about it:

  • As will all new software, this program has a learning curve. I suggest watching the tutorials before even purchasing the program. It will save you loads of time.
  • The word processor is limited and not as user-friendly as other word processing programs like MS Word.
  • If you have too much fun with the program, it can become a distraction from writing. (Some of that is conquered by using no-distraction mode. It blocks out everything on your screen except your writing.)

Everything considered:

Scrivener is a thing of beauty. I haven’t even scratched the surface of the benefits of the program. I hope you’ll at least check out the tutorials and see if it would help you like it’s helped me. If you want to try it out, there is a free 30-day trial available. Enjoy!


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