Scrivener, Where Have You Been All My Life?

Several months ago my writer friends suggested I pick up Scrivener, a writer’s software, much like an organizational toolbox, that offers a wealth of handy tools to get that novel started, cleaned up or finished.

I bought the software not long after, but then saw there was a pretty intensive tutorial they advised taking before getting started. I needed to set time aside to focus on the tutorial, so it got shoved to the side for awhile.

Just last week, thanks to an unexpected day off with my twins who were sick, I finally made the time to do the tutorial. It took me more than a few hours to go through it all since I was multitasking a bit, but I was super excited to see all the in and outs of the software. I then spent the rest of the day (and late into the evening) putting my current WIP into the software.

I went from having an almost 80,000 word document that had major holes and some scenes out of order to a project in Scrivener that has about 20 different scenes or chapters. Breaking the draft into workable pieces is by itself going to help me edit this crazy first draft. Editing just got far more manageable for this novice.

But I learned from my tutorial, and from putting my draft into the software, that there are a lot of great features. Below is a short list of some of my favorite features of Scrivener and why I think this will help me get this novel finished. Then, hopefully, it will also help me get the next one done far more efficiently! πŸ™‚

1) Corkboard: Each scene or chapter or section you create can be viewed in several ways, but one of the neatest is the Corkboard. Each scene/chapter will have an ‘index card’ with the title (or whatever you chose to display) “tacked up” on the virtual Corkboard. I can pull up my Corkboard and see all the chapters and pick which one I want to jump to so I can get started on that scene. Or I can easily move them around if that placement isn’t working. I haven’t set up a dedicated writing space to put up a real Corkboard but have often thought it might be a good idea. Super cool. But something else I need and am not good at…

2) Outline: Scrivener also will take the scenes I’ve put in and display in an outline form. Sweet! You can make that outline as simple or as detailed as you like. I don’t have an elaborate outline, but I love how this takes what I’ve put in and lets me play with it a little in outline form. Maybe this will help a pantser like myself get back on track!

3) Split editor: I love that I can have one chapter open in one part of my split screen, then have current chapter open in another part of screen as I work. If I want to reference what a character said in an earlier chapter when writing a new scene I can have it open at the same time. I can search multiple chapters while keeping the current one open where I am writing. This is far easier than how I was working with multiple documents in addition to the one long master draft. I believe there are a lot of ways to manage and manipulate the spilt editor view but I am still learning. There are so many possibilities!

Speaking of lots of possibilities and having a lot to learn, I will have to do an update to this post once I have spent more time working in Scrivener. For now, I am very excited to explore and discover how this new tool can help my writing.

Do you have Scrivener? Love it? Not love it? Do you have another brilliant software or organizational tool you use for your writing? Feel free to share in the comments. πŸ™‚

Have a great week!

CJS

Off to a great start!

My last blog post asked for some advice or thoughts on what I should do next (following my first 365 day challenge). Some of you replied on this blog, some on Twitter and some IRL (in real life – over the phone or in person). I appreciated all feedback. πŸ™‚

Everyone seemed to agree that committing to write every day again was a good idea. I wholeheartedly agree. I definitely have grown as a writer as a result of the initial challenge. Therefore, I am declaring today Day 1 of my new 365 challenge. Cheers to getting back on track! Thanks for the encouragement. πŸ™‚

Consensus also seems to be that I shouldn’t rule out the opportunity to try new things and write as I feel called to write. New poetry, new short stories, some flash fiction – all were supported suggestions. I will definitely allow myself to explore.

Building the blog also seems a key part of my writer development and challenge. I will continue with a once a week commitment on Mondays, but I may add more days (like tonight’s) randomly or expand my schedule later. I would also like to plug a future blog project you should see coming soon, with a group of local writers where we each will have a blog day during the week. I’ll let you know once that is up and running. πŸ™‚

I also have a few upcoming blog events I’d like to mention as well: 1000 Speak in February and April’s A to Z Challenge.

1000 Speak blog for compassion on Feb 20th was suggested to me by Jessica Scott and I am very excited to be a part of the project. Essentially the idea is to have many blogs dedicated to the idea of compassion the same day- on February 20th, the day of compassion. You can follow the blog, Facebook page or on Twitter (#1000Speak) if you would like to participate.

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I am also looking forward to participating in the April A to Z Challenge again. I did my first challenge last year & it was both great fun and a great way to find new blogs/meet other bloggers. I believe that Monday will be the first day to join the list and getting on early does help get more traffic to your blog, so go check it out! πŸ™‚

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I am excited for this new daily writing challenge and for continuing to build a blog voice here and on the new blog project. I am also excited about making some big steps forward on my writing projects, and will share with you in my next post what is helping get me there.

Talk to you soon, and in the meantime, I am writing. πŸ™‚

CJ

What do I do now?

I finished my first 365 day challenge at the end of 2014. We are now well into the first month of 2015 and I am floundering a bit.

Do I do another year of writing every day? I thought I would but haven’t been doing so consistently since ending the first 365 days. I want to tweak the challenge a bit before starting again. Unfortunately I have been rather indecisive as to what the new guidelines will be.

Committing to write everyday was a tremendously helpful goal to set. I wrote far more than I would have without the commitment, even if perhaps not so much in the direction I need to be going. The first year commitment was simply to write every day. I made no restrictions on what I would write. Free writing, character sketch, poetry, work on short story or novel or even a blog post, all counted as my writing for the day.

Now I am at a place where I need to pick a new challenge. So, I thought I would ask your advice! πŸ™‚

What should the new challenge be?

-Same exact challenge? Just write. Every day.

-Build my blog? Increase the number of days I blog? Throw in some challenges like Flash Fiction Fridays?

-Write Every Day exclusively on current WIP? And then into next book in the series. No blog posts or poems or side projects count for daily writing requirement?

-Combination of both? Blogging more & differently and write every day?

-Something different? Suggestions welcome!

I know that the saying is true, without a plan, a goal is just a wish. I am working out my plan now. I need to make a decision soon and move forward with a new challenge because I have already been missing the habit I had established with the previous challenge.

Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions. πŸ™‚

Have a great week!

CJ