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I first heard of Scrivener when I took the ‘How To Write Better’ course by Joshua Fields Millburn. It was one of the tools recommended to improve and elevate my writing. On first look I wasn’t one hundred percent convinced. It looked complicated and not very user friendly. But it is the number one tool I now use for all of my writing. Goodbye Microsoft Word and Google Docs!

Let me get into it. What exactly is Scrivener and is it worth it?

Scrivener is a powerful word processing software designed specifically for writers. It was developed by Literature & Latte and is available for both Mac and Windows operating systems. Scrivener is unique in that it allows writers to easily organise and manage their writing projects, whether they are novels, screenplays, academic papers, or any other type of writing.

At its core, Scrivener is a word processor, but it also includes a variety of tools and features that make it ideal for writing long-form content. One of its main features is its ability to divide a project into smaller, manageable parts. This is done using the "binder," which acts as a kind of digital notebook. Within the binder, writers can create sections for chapters, scenes, or any other type of unit they choose. These sections can then be easily reordered, edited, and even viewed side-by-side for comparison.

Scrivener also allows writers to keep track of research and reference materials. Within the program, writers can create "research" folders, which can contain anything from web links to images to PDF files. This makes it easy to keep all of the necessary materials for a writing project in one place, eliminating the need for multiple programs or physical documents.

This has been helpful as I started writing my second book. All of the website links and PDF files I’ve been using, in addition to scans of books I want to reference have all been added to my research folder. And because I’m working on multiple projects, it’s easy for me to find what I need, because each project has its own research folder. I’ve been able to eliminate the use of my Notes app and Photos app and keep everything in one place. I’ve saved heaps of time from not having to scroll through lists and photos to find what I need because it is now all in the one place under whichever project I’m working on.

Another unique feature of Scrivener is its "corkboard" view. This view allows writers to see all of the sections of a project in a visual, index-card style layout. Each card can be customised with its own title, summary, and colour, making it easy to quickly identify different sections of a project. Writers can also drag and drop cards to rearrange the order of their project or group them into categories.

I wrote my first book in Microsoft Word, which isn’t all bad. It’s what many of us have grown up on when using word processors for work or personal documents. What I found cumbersome was moving chapters and sections around when I was in the editing stages. Having to cut and paste complete chapters so that they were in the correct place in my book was time consuming and anxiety inducing! With the ‘corkboard’ view in Scrivener, it is easy to move chapters and sections of text around to make sure the book flows. No more cut and paste!

In addition to the organisational features, Scrivener also includes a number of writing tools to help writers stay focused and productive. One of these tools is the "composition mode," which blocks out distractions and displays only the text being written. Writers can customise the background colour, font, and size to their liking, and the program automatically saves all changes as they are made.

Scrivener also includes a "project target" feature, which allows writers to set goals for their writing project. This can be a specific word count, a target completion date, or any other metric they choose. The program then displays a progress bar, showing how close the writer is to meeting their goal. This can be a powerful motivator and helps writers stay on track with their writing.

I haven’t used this feature yet. I’m pretty disciplined when it comes to word counts and completion targets and don’t currently feel the need for more motivation from a tool to keep on track with my writing. Never say never though. It might be something I decide to use on future projects.

Another useful feature of Scrivener is its ability to export projects in a variety of formats. Writers can export their project as a Word document, PDF, ePub, or even as a screenplay. This makes it easy to share work with others or to submit it for publication or review.

Again, this isn’t a feature that I have used yet. My first book was formatted for publication by a third party (The Book Shelf). It’s something that I plan to try myself when I have completed the first draft of my next book as I would love to be able to see the process through from beginning to end.

Scrivener has a vibrant online community, with many resources available for users to learn more about the program and connect with other writers. The Literature & Latte website includes a user forum, video tutorials, and a blog with tips and advice on using the program. There are also many third-party resources available, such as online courses and books, that can help writers get the most out of Scrivener.

In conclusion, Scrivener is a powerful writing tool that can help writers of all kinds stay organised, focused, and productive. Its unique features, such as the binder, corkboard, and project target, make it ideal for long-form writing projects. And its ability to export projects in a variety of formats makes it easy to share work with others. While there is a bit of a learning curve when first using Scrivener, the program is well worth the investment for writers who want to take their writing to the next level.

At the time of writing this blog (April 2023) the price for a Standard License was £49.99. The Educational License is slightly cheaper at £42.49. Note that although you can buy one license and use it on multiple devices (I use mine on my desktop and laptop), if you want to use Scrivener on your mobile phone, the license must be purchased separately through the App Store (Apple) for £23.99. If you would like to purchase a Scrivener license, you can do so using this affiliate link.

However, if you’re not sure and would like to give it a go, you can also download a 30-day free trial. This gives you 30 days of usage, so if you only use it twice a week, your free trial will run for fifteen days. I think this is pretty good as not all companies who offer free trials do this. Although I went ahead and purchased a license straight away, I would recommend you using this as it gives you a good amount of time to get used to this application and it’s many benefits.

It did take me a while to get used to the application and the different features, but I wouldn’t be without it now. It has made my writing life so much easier and organised. It lets me work on multiple projects without having to sift through numerous folders trying to find the right file to work on. I have also found it useful for use in my business, keeping notes for various self development programmes separated and easy to find. The binder functionality has been a game changer for me. Rather than keeping written notes in a physical folder on a bookshelf, I’ve been able to create them electronically in their own ‘binder’ within Scrivener. This tool really has elevated my writing game.

Much love,

Harmesch x

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