This past week I was able to do a live podcast explaining a bit about how I use Scrivener for my writing, specifically my sermon writing. It made me stop and ponder a bit about why I love this application so much. It’s the one tool I recommend for all writers, because it’s amazing.
Scrivener is what you make it
There is no question Scrivener is a complex piece of software. Writers are able to create layouts which border on beautiful absurdity, and can use the suite to keep tabs on just about anything to do with a project. It can track characters through a story, store research, create a fantastic outline, track changes, handle notes, and be configured to handle an amazing array of metadata.
Or it can be used as a word processor with some remarkable organization elements.
This is what makes Scrivener so amazing. It is complex, and powerful beyond belief, but it doesn’t need to be. If a writer is comfortable using a small sub-set of the suite’s features they can restrict their use to these areas, but they will still benefit from each aspect of the suite they do utilize. Scrivener is about writing, not being a layout or application guru 1.
Scrivener makes organizing my writing easy
A Scrivener file contains stored research, folder structure, and individual documents 2. So instead of creating a series of folders and documents on my hard drive, Scrivener keeps my related writing together. Each file is called a project.
From a practical standpoint this means I can use Scrivener’s excellent binder interface to see how my project is structured. I can also split my editor window and open two documents at once, in case I want to reference some other material as I write 3. No more minimizing the application to hunt for my research, thoughts, or earlier writing. It’s all there with me whenever I open up Scrivener.
Scrivener lets me work on the road
The iOS app for Scrivener was a long time coming, but when it arrived it transformed the way I wrote overnight. I no longer had to create separate sync folders for each project, hunt around for my current document in a different iOS app, and then hope my edits synced back ok 4. Instead, I stick every project I want to take on the road into a specific Dropbox folder 5 and they show up on my iPad and iPhone. I can then edit in a familiar interface, which is Scrivener in both name and experience, and then sync back to pass my changes on. And, unlike the older syncing I used to do, I’m not working copies of a project’s files. I’m working in the actual project.
Scrivener is inexpensive
Scrivener has no subscriptions, and a base price which boggles the mind. The application is a Swiss army knife of polished tools for writers, and can be used in a staggering amount of workflows, but the desktop version costs a mere $45. The iOS app, which is an essential companion for anyone with an iDevice, is an additional $19.99. Those are one time fees 6. It may be the best money I’ve ever spent on a piece of software 7.
If you write for fun, for school, or as a professional Scrivener is about the most no-brainer tool you can buy. I use it for all my writing.
- Compiling is where things get more messy, but even then results are worth it, and Scrivener 3 upped everything up a notch. ↩
- Among an array of other elements pertaining to these. ↩
- Or up to four documents if I decide to use Scrivener 3’s new copyholder feature. ↩
- For the record, I never had a problem with this last bit. ↩
- It would be amazing if Scrivener could work with any sync application that’s integrated into the Files app. Perhaps one day. ↩
- You’ll pay for upgrades, of course. But the upgrade price from Scrivener 2 to Scrivener 3, even for those who were dumb enough to purchase it through the Mac App Store (not that I know anyone like that), was $25. I’ll take it. ↩
- Keynote comes close, but that’s free now so it doesn’t count. Lightroom is also close, but I’m looking to get away from Adobe because I’m tired of paying a subscription. ↩