How Scrivener is Helping Me Declutter my Writing

Jennifer Bradshaw

I finally broke down and started my trial of Scrivner after a dear friend (who does not try new things, ever, unless someone she knows has done it, tried it and likes it) got the trial and began singing its praises.

I've written 2-plus novels on Google's Drive, and it worked okay. Granted, G-Drive moves like stagnant pond water when I'm trying to do anything in a 550 page manuscript, and copying and pasting from one doc to another is a royal pain, especially when the really big documents crash and burn repeatedly (I've had days where editing 3 pages took me 4 hours due to pages crashing and reloading).

Disclosure: I am not a huge fan of moving my work around to a product that I'm not familiar with, so I've been dragging my feet on checking out Scrivner, even though I've known of its existence for over 6 months now. My learning new tech usually involves tears and some rather sailor-worthy swearing, so when my dear writer friend (who usually waits for me to try something first) IM'd me, bouncing up and down, wanting to know if I'd tried Scrivner, I felt like an idiot for not jumping on the Scrivner bandwagon earlier.

So, what was holding me back?

Mostly the $40 price tag. No, it's not a lot for a solid program that has a good reputation, but presently, we're trying to pay off debt, and watching our pennies carefully. Scrivner has a 30 day free trial, but I haven't been focused on my writing recently, and I didn't want to sign up for a 30 day trial when I'd only use it a few days before having to pay. I honestly wanted to give it a fair shake before making up my mind, and right now, my writing time is limited to one afternoon a week.

My darling friend has a little more free time on her hands right now (and her finances are more settled), so when she told me she was going to look into it and try it, I asked her to let me know how it went.

What sold me? 

Allie got back to me a few hours later, to let me know that the 30 day trial isn't the standard 1 month thing. It's 30 days of actual use. So, in my case, where I'm only working on my writing 1 day a week, that's a really long trial. Not to mention, I get to give it the full run, even when my schedule is limited. Really cool.

She also let me know that there are a number of YouTube videos on getting started, so I wouldn't have to spend weeks trying to figure it out. (This is a critical point, because all the reviews I'd read this far were that it could be a bit difficult to learn) Within a few hours, she let me know she'd figured it out enough to move an entire book's worth of material over to Scrivner without any trouble at all, and sent me screenshots of what it all looked at inside the program (I've seen what it looks like on WordPerfect, so I had a before-and-after kind of thing going on).


Why I started using scrivner

So, Sunday, I spent the morning downloading Scrivner and setting it up. I didn't write or edit anything Sunday afternoon during our Second Life write in, but I did read the entire Scrivner tutorial (I passed on the video tutorials and the included quick-start guide and went straight for the full instructions) and started moving my current project over to the program. I ran into a small problem, but with a little help from Allie, I got the entire manuscript moved over in about 3 minutes, broken down by chapter. Another 20 minutes of deciding how I wanted my references to look, I had all my character and setting work done up and made easy-to-reference shorts on the corkboard, nicely organized and easy to grab and use while editing/writing.

Scrivner hasn't been placed on my mobile devices yet, though it does offer mobile versions that sync up across the board. Another plus? One purchased license is good for a whole household. Since I'm raising an aspiring author and my hubby likes to write, too, this makes it super easy to make sure everyone has access to an easy-to-organize program for writing.

My current system worked, but it wasn't quick and easy to find anything I wanted. Nor was it quick and easy to create something I needed to reference later. Now, everything is within easy reach (or clearly visible as I work) without a lot of hassle.

Truly awesome.

I will be buying this program in the next few months. A definite resource for writers.

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