Scrivener: How To End The Chaos, And Manage Your Writing Life

I tend to recommend Scrivener to every writer I know because I love the app. If you don’t feel as in-control of your writing life as you’d like, perhaps Scrivener can help.

That said, Scrivener isn’t for everyone. Recently one of my clients, who’s writing her first novel, said that she wasn’t bothering with Scrivener, because it was just too complicated. My response: you’ll know when you need Scrivener. It does have a learning curve. 🙂

Before I used Scrivener I used Word, and I hated writing. I had endless files, and never knew where anything was. This was a challenge, because at the time I was ghostwriter, subcontracted to a publisher to help their authors to craft successful business books.

It was torture trying to manage my workload of clients’ books, as well as my own books. The creative process is always chaotic, and Word didn’t help. One day the Master Document feature messed up the draft of a client’s book. I was on deadline… so I sat down and cried.

The next day I bought a Mac, and Scrivener. Today, I shiver when I look back on my years and years of battling with MS Word.

Manage ALL your writing life with Scrivener

Authors need to organize:

  • Ideas, so that they can be collected, and most importantly, found when needed;
  • Tasks, so that tasks get done, preferably before their deadline;
  • Book planning: research, notes on plot, character and more, both before we start work on a book, and while we’re writing it;
  • Book journals;
  • Drafts: first draft, second draft, revised draft, editorial notes, and editor’s queries;
  • Collaborations (if you’re writing part of a book, or are writing a book in collaboration with another author);
  • Final draft;
  • Front matter, back matter, etc;
  • Versions (editions, if you like.) One of the huge benefits of self-publishing is that you can update your book at any time. Scrivener makes it easy to create new editions;
  • Book series, and serials: if a book is part of a series, Scrivener lets you keep as many books as you like in the same Scrivener file — without messing up. This is hugely useful. If you’re working on book 3, you can keep sections of books 1 and 2 open as references;
  • Book marketing: ideas for covers and fonts, cover mockups, social media graphics, and blog posts, advertising… Marketing is never-ending, and you need to be able to locate the advertising you did last year, or the year before;
  • If you’re blogging (always a good idea for an author), you need to collect ideas and research for blog posts, and draft blog posts, and keep final, published versions with links to your site;
  • Electronic versions of book contracts, if you’re going the traditional publishing route…

Authors need to organize a lot of STUFF

You can keep ALL your stuff in Scrivener .

Tip: you can drag many different types of files into the Binder in Scrivener: Word docs, text docs, images, PDFs, Web pages, and more. Be carful of where you drag them. Only drag material which is a part of your book into the Draft folder. Drag other material into the Research folder, or other folders you’ve created outside the Draft folder.

While creativity is always chaotic, and that’s expected, you can’t be chaotic in your business life. The list above is just a short list of things you can organize with Scrivener.

The bliss of Scrivener is that it works just like you do. Scrivener can be customized to the way you work. You can even customize specific projects in Scrivener.

You can keep a little of what you need for your writing life in Scrivener, or you can keep everything. It’s completely up to you.

We mentioned Scrivener’s learning curve.

You don’t need to use every function and utility of in Scrivener that’s available to you

Here’s the thing. Only use what you need to use. Scrivener has endless features. You won’t need them all. However, there will come a time when you’ll discover a feature you didn’t know about… and you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.

For example, I adore Scrivener’s Collections. That said, I used Scrivener for several years before I made full use of Collections.

How to use Scrivener to write a series of books

Use Scrivener to write a series of books
I kept all three of the books in my time travel Regency romance series in Scrivener

Scrivener’s wonderful if you’re writing a series of books. I kept all three of the books in my time travel Regency romance series in a single file in Scrivener, as well as all the books’ research, and other material.

From How To Plan And Write A Series of Novels:

You can keep your entire series in ONE project in Scrivener, and move from one book to another. When you get bored writing something in book 1, work on book 2.

Use the tags and collections features in Scrivener. They’ll help you to see everything you’ve written which mentions a character, or an incident, or location,  together.

If you find the organization of your writing life stressful, you may be ready for Scrivener. You’ll know when you are. Then you’ll become a Scrivener user, who’s able to be more relaxed, more productive, and a much more creative writer.


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