Professional creators should use professional tools.
After all, how would you feel if you went to a restaurant and noticed the food was being cooked in cheap microwaves by chefs using low-quality equipment? You would probably rightly assume the output from substandard tools would be a substandard meal.
Writers are no different.
To produce the best work possible, it’s vital to find the right tools for the job.
How many writers do you know who still use a standard word processor app like Microsoft Word? Perhaps you even do yourself. Why? It’s often due to a lack of knowledge about what else is out there.
I still remember the day I found something better and tried it out for the first time.
That something better was a writing tool named Scrivener.
Here’s how this tool has made a major difference to my writing process.
1. Better research and planning
The self-publishing marketplace is more crowded and competitive than ever before.
In the past, it was possible to release a hastily written book containing the minimum of research, and still experience success. Those days are gone. Success in the current climate requires careful and conscious research.
Research isn’t easy. We live in an era of unprecedented information and ideas.
Curating the best and most suitable concepts for your book is no easy task. Yet so many writers make it even tougher than it needs to be by taking a scattergun approach to the collection and storage of information.
Before I discovered Scrivener, my research process typically involved a mess of folders, files and illogically named documents. Even worse, leaving my writing software and accessing my research disrupted my creative flow and led to procrastination and distraction.
Scrivener helped me to collect, organize and access my research in a way I never even knew was possible. Within Scrivener, you have all of your research directly available, next to the actual writing environment itself, as seen below.
Being able to see all of your research without having to leave your writing software is an incredible time-saver and productivity-booster. You never have to run the risk of forgetting about a useful piece of research while in the throes of creation.
Scrivener painlessly integrates text, visual and online research. It also syncs up with Evernote, making Scrivener a superb choice for Evernote fans.
Some of the best research and planning features of Scrivener for fiction writers include the ability to create, store and access detailed character notes, create a detailed and useful outline of your story, and to store images and ideas related to setting and location.
2. Writing well
Any specialist writing software worth your time and money needs to offer functionality and benefit when it comes to the actual activity of writing itself.
While research and planning are important, the core activity for writers will always be, unsurprisingly, writing itself. Thankfully, Scrivener does not disappoint in this area.
Some of my favorite aspects of writing while using Scrivener include –
- The ability to write in a distraction-free fullscreen mode
- The option to use a template created by another writer to structure my work in a tried and tested way
- Setting quantified writing targets and visually monitoring my progress towards them in real time
- Being able to quickly and easily rearrange chapters and scenes as I write
Write without distraction
If you’ve ever struggled with the problem of being able to zone in on your writing and get things done, you will appreciate the full-screen composition mode offered by Scrivener. It’s a way of digitally tuning out the distractions of the world and zoning in on the vital process of stringing sentences together.
As you can see from the above image, Scrivener blocks out everything but the words you are writing. If you combine this with a time period where you turn off your internet and cellphone, you will truly be able to focus on your writing. The full screen mode shown above displays a plain background, but you can also customize the image seen. Views of nature are a popular choice.
Use templates for successful structures
One of the toughest challenges for me was knowing the proper structure to use when setting out to write a book. This is another area where Scrivener excels.
You can easily download, import and modify Scrivener templates. This gives you a predefined structure for your manuscript and research which allows you to focus on the act of actually creating.
Using templates in Scrivener can also give you the confidence to try out a style or method of writing you may not have experience with. For example, if you’ve wanted to write a screenplay, but haven’t known exactly how, a template can be your best friend.
The above image shows the template selection available when loading up Scrivener. You can always add and modify templates depending on your personal requirements.
Set targets and monitor progress
Almost every writer has a unique approach to measuring progress and monitoring projects. If you like to set targets for your writing, and ensure you stay on track, Scrivener makes it easy. You can easily set writing targets for an individual writing session, or an entire project, and quickly monitor your progress towards them, as seen below.
You can see that the progress box floats over your writing and shows both your overall and session targets.
Scrivener also allows you to quickly combine, separate and rearrange the individual pieces of a writing project. If you are rewriting nonfiction, and aren’t exactly sure of the order you want your chapters to be in, it’s easy to switch up the sequence, as seen below.
3. Formatting and sharing
Have you ever experienced the joy of seemingly finishing a writing project, only to experience unexpected frustration when finding the right format for your work, and exporting it, becomes a nightmare?
This is especially true when writing in software like Microsoft Word. It can be tricky to impossible to find a way of easily converting your work into the right file format. Even if you do manage to export to the file type you need, there’s often no guarantee that your work will look the way you wanted in its final form.
In Scrivener, you can ensure that your writing project will look exactly as you intended after you export it. Some of the options for doing this can be seen below.
Scrivener also supports a wealth of export file formats, which are suited to different types of writing.
Some of the file format supported by Scrivener include –
* .epub (used for Google, iBookstore, Nook and Kobo)
* .mobi (used for the Kindle store)
* .html (used for webpages)
* .PDF (used for Adobe Reader)
* .doc (compatible with MS Word and Google Docs)
This powerful export capability can save both time and money. Exporting with Scrivener can save on the need to hire a freelance worker to carry out the format process for your book. It also can help you to avoid having to invest in a separate piece of software to get the file format you want.
As well as being great for full ebooks, this file format versatility is well-suited to blogging. Bestselling author Michael Hyatt decided to switch to Scrivener for all his writing projects, not just his books. While you may not decide to go this far yourself, it’s good to know that Scrivener is suitable for whatever type of writing project you decide to engage in.
Better Books With Scrivener
Writing a book is a demanding endeavour requiring software that is up to scratch. Scrivener not only produces a better final product, but also makes each and every stage of the writing process easier along the way.
If you have any questions about Scrivener, feel free to comment and I’ll be happy to respond. I’d also love to know about any awesome Scrivener benefits you’ve discovered that I haven’t mentioned here.
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