Scrivener, My All-In-One Writing Tool

So, as most of you know I have been on a path of simplifying our lives as well as our home. The girls and I have been slowly weeding through the clutter and storage tubs of miscellaneous “Why are we keeping this?” items and chucking things as soon as we can. We’ve even tossed furniture and I’ve whittled down my book collection. I know, I can hear the gasps of surprise from here. It wasn’t easy, but it was a step we needed to take.

We have also gone digital wherever we could. I have been slowly scanning old pictures and putting them on thumb drives which fit nicely into digital picture frames. Now we can enjoy those pictures that only took up the space in the bottom of the closet. And yes, we have tossed the hard copies. Don’t worry. We won’t lose them. I have several copies stored in different places as well as in clouds and the great part is that those 1,000s of pictures now fit snugly in my hand as I’m racing for the van to avoid the next hurricane.

We’ve done the same with our music. I no longer have stacks of albums, CDs, or old cassette tapes. They all shuffle nicely from the flash drive that can sit in a case along with the digital family photo albums. Again, everything can be grabbed quickly and nothing lost.

I have said before that I have even begun this process with my writing. I used to write everything out in dozens of notebooks before typing it into Word. I had notebooks of character descriptions, scenes, research notes, ideas, whatever came to mind. It took up as much room as the music and photo albums and was scattered throughout the house in backpacks, briefcases, laptop bags, and just sitting around on tables.

A few months ago, I decided to start typing instead of writing out my projects and converted all of those many drafts into Word documents. That took quite a bit of time, but was well worth it. Again, all of my projects fit nicely on my hard drive and I could take them all with me without breaking my back.

However, I still had notebooks of descriptions and research to carry around in order to keep everything straight on the page. That was still quite a bit of paper and took up some valuable time bouncing from notebooks to the computer screen. I needed to find a way to streamline the process even more.

Enter my friend and fellow writer, Stephanie Neighbour. She recommended a program called Scrivener, which apparently had everything in it that I would need. The house remodel was tapping our resources, so I didn’t have a lot of cash to purchase another program that I might not like. However, it came with a 30-day trial and not consecutive days. It only counted if you actually used the program, not when you necessarily installed it. That worked for me because I do not always work on a project every day. So, I decided to give it a whirl.

And I love it. It has everything I need to get rid of all of those notebooks that are still stacked in the corners of our home. I can put all of my research in the program and with the ability of making Scrivener use a split screen with only one monitor, I can refer to my notes while I am typing out the story. Perfect. I never even have to look away from my laptop! It uploads documents, pictures, graphics, webpages, whatever I need to keep my story and characters behave as they should and not change a blond to a brunette. It even compiles my novel for me, preparing it for a Kindle upload. Everything I need is right there at the edge of my mouse.

This works perfect with our getting-rid-of-clutter mentality. I have not only freed up more space in our home and my study, but have found a more efficient way to be creative. I can also export files into a Word document for those moments I need to print out a copy of something or just move it around, which works for me as I still edit with a red pen on paper. It’s easier for me to see that way.

And the best part is it only cost my wallet forty dollars. That fits into my budget and is well worth the cost.

Now, before you think I am being paid for this endorsement, I assure I’m not. It’s just when I get excited about something new, I like to share it with others who I believe might benefit and since I know several of my writer friends read the Mess, I knew they would come across this bit of advice. Scrivener is well worth the time and cost because in the end, it actually saves you time. Even if you don’t want to shuck out the $40 dollars right off the bat, you can give it a trial run for free and free is always good.

We need to take advantage of anything that is going to increase our productivity and make what we do easier. If it saves time and helps you put more words to paper–or rather to computer screen–then it is well worth the investment. Of course, now I have an abundance of office supplies I don’t need. Maybe I can donate them at the next school supply drive. They need a good home, just not mine anymore.

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