When I wrote my first novel, back when my oldest son was an infant and toddler, all I had to work with was paper and pen, or the word processing software that came with my computer. If I recall correctly, it was something like Microsoft Works. It was very simple, nothing fancy – and not easy to organize. Going back to check something I’d written earlier in the story meant scrolling back through anything from 1 to 250 pages, depending on how far I’d gotten into the story, and that was assuming I actually remembered where that little detail or fact had been written.
Character notes, maps, setting descriptions, research notes and links – all of these things were on paper, or saved as bookmarks in my browser, which meant that they were always unwieldy, hard to search, and often, hard to find. The one advantage I had at that time was that I used a desktop computer, which meant I had a desk, which meant my work was confined to said desk (unless I wanted to use pen and paper, but my handwriting has never been able to keep up with my thoughts).
These days, though, I have a laptop. Sometimes I work in a recliner in the living room, others at the dining room table. Sometimes I’m outside at a nice table on our back porch, or even at the park while my kids do school or play. My work space is no longer confined to a small desk (in fact, I do not even have a desk these days), which means that I have no central place to keep paper notes. I could keep a binder, which would be more portable, at least. But it would also be a lot of effort.
A few years ago, I found Scrivener. Scrivener has become my best friend. Scrivener is a writer’s software. Designed to let you write and keep all your research in one place, it’s truly been a lifesaver for me. I can keep all of my notes in the project, and any links to any research I’ve done. I can also copy and paste bits and pieces of research instead of handwriting it or printing out a tons of different pages.
But the best part of Scrivener for me is the way I write. Each scene is basically its own document, confined within folders that make up the chapters. This makes it so much easier when I need to back up to check a detail or fact – as long as I remember what chapter it was in, it’s so easy to scroll through the handful of scenes in that chapter. Often, I can remember which scene it was within the chapter, which makes it a snap to simply click on that scene and scroll through that one scene to find what I’m looking for.
It also makes it easier to move things around. Have you ever tried to move a chunk of text from place to another in a 200+ page document? It’s not easy, is it? But with Scrivener, it’s more than easy. I can move entire scenes, chapters, anything I need or want to move.
I can create all my character notes, and even add images if I find inspiration for their appearance. I can do the same with settings. It even comes with the front matter so that all I need to do is fill in the blanks. With a word counter to show me not only how many words I’ve written total, but how many I’ve written today, I can also set my word count goals – how many words I want to write each day, and how many I want the book to have total. It shows me how many pages a scene, or the whole book is, and automatically saves everything as I write. No worries about losing everything in a power outage, as it’s constantly saving my work.
Scrivener made writing so much easier for me. I’m much more organized. I can write faster, smoother, and more easily – as long as I have an idea. No more unorganized stuff!
If you’re a writer, or you want to be one, I would highly recommend Scrivener. For less than $50, you get a robust software that will help you stay organized and on top of your project, and even helps you format it once it’s done. It’s been a lifesaver for me.
I have no affiliation with Scrivener, nor am I being compensated in any way for my rave review. This is just my honest opinion of this software. If you’d like to check it out for yourself, you can get more information here – including a 30-day free trial.