When I first started using Scrivener, I was skeptical. I thought, What can this do that I can't already do in Microsoft Word? I'm a true cheap skate, and the idea of spending $45 on a program that was basically the same as a program I already had seemed silly.
Photo by Haris Awang (creative Commons). Modified by The Write Practice.
However, I couldn't argue with the people who recommended it. Seth Harwood, a novelist I admire, said, “I use Scrivener for writing my novels and a MacBook. I used to use Word, but literally I can’t imagine how I’d write a novel without Scrivener now… There’s nothing that can match Scrivener’s chapter view for seeing where the book has gone and is going.”
So I bought it.
And I'm not going back to Microsoft Word any time soon.
Here's what I use Scrivener for:
1. Capture More Story Ideas
For two years, I've been doing research for a novel. Nearly every day I read something interesting pertaining to the story, or get a phrase to write down on a napkin, or see a picture on Pinterest that reminds me of one of my characters.
In the past, I had a hard time capturing all those ideas into one, organized place. I had dozens of Word documents strewn around on my computer with snippets of text. I had piles of napkins and scraps of paper all over the house.
Scrivener made all that go away. Now I have one document to capture all my ideas in, whether they're pictures, snippets of text, links to articles, or quotes from a novel.
I couldn't have done that with Word.
2. Structure Your Book
I've worked on five book projects with Scrivener, and I've been impressed with how much easier it is to stay organized, especially between chapters and sub-chapters.
I've had people ask me whether I create separate Word documents for each chapter, and now I say, “Not anymore!” Scrivener lets me keep all my chapters separated but easily accessible, which is convenient when working on a big project.
3. Boost Your Productivity
Scrivener also allows you to create word count goals for each section. So if you need to write five more chapters of at least 1,000 words, Scrivener lets you input each goal and see how close you are to achieving them at a glance.
I love word count goals. They keep me so motivated!
4. Sync Between Your Computer and Phone
Often when I'm stuck on a chapter, I like to take a walk to clear my head and brainstorm solutions. If any notes came to me during this process, I would take them down using Evernote, or another app, and then have to laboriously message them or copy and paste them when I came back to my computer.
Scrivener's new iOS app makes this process seamless. I can sync my chapter with my phone, then take it with me without have to switch between different apps and documents. It's a huge time saver.
5. Get Published!
Scrivener's advanced “compile” feature allows you to quickly format your book into publish-ready PDFs, into eBooks, like ePub and mobi (for Amazon Kindle), which you can publish directly to services like Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes & Noble, and even into documents for agents and publishers.
This can be a huge boost to efficiency. Plus, you don't have to learn how to convert to all those formats yourself!
Scrivener is a Better Word Processor for Writers
Scrivener can be installed on Macs and PCs. You can purchase it and download it here.
Ready to try out Scrivener? You can download a free trial from Literature & Latte here.
All in all, Scrivener is better than Word for writers. If you're having a hard time writing large projects with Word, it's time for an upgrade.
More Articles About How to Use Scrivener
Interested in learning more about how to use Scrivener? Here are more resources:
- A Walk Through Scrivener’s User Interface
- Cheatsheet to Plot and Structure Using Scrivener
- How to Create a Setting Sketch Using Scrivener
- 7 Tools To Help You Write a Novel (free eBook)
Do you use Scrivener? What do you like about it? What other word processors do you use for your writing? Let us know in the comments.
(Some of the links above are affiliate links.)