Scrivener: My New Favorite Word Processor
By Eli, a Writing Coach
Normally, the papers I write for class don’t require exhaustive research, so I can get by just keeping everything in my all-purpose Word document (or, as my roommate calls it, the “portal of chaos”). This spring, though, I was assigned a final paper that required me to sift through a lot of primary sources, and I was getting tired of scrolling. So, to keep everything organized, I turned to a program that I’d purchased a few years ago: Scrivener (free for the first 30 days of use, or $42 for a lifetime license).
Click on the video below to see how I use Scrivener:
Here’s what Scrivener looks like when I open it up.By default, Scrivener has two main folders: “draft” and “research.” I wasn’t ready to start writing, but I did have some sources in mind, so I put them in the “research” folder. Scrivener accepts a number of different file formats, which meant I could include PDFs and websites along with my notes. All of those are contained in the binder, which is what Scrivener calls its main navigational tool. Then, I started making an outline, which is where Scrivener’s split-screen view came in handy. I could keep my outline pulled up while also flipping between different sources. If I were to try to do that without Scrivener, I’d have to open multiple windows, which I find clumsy and potentially distracting. Thanks to Scrivener, I never have to leave the app—shifting what I’m reading is as easy as selecting a window and clicking a new file in the binder. Once I finished my outline, it was time to write. I opened up a new document in the “draft” folder and started typing away. The split-screen view let me write with my outline and draft side by side to stay on track, and I could divide my draft across multiple sections to rearrange them if needed.
Sometimes, though, I’d find myself getting distracted by the siren call of email or furniture restoration videos. In those cases, I’d switch over to the full-screen mode to keep myself focused.
Thanks to all these tools, I was not only able to get my paper finished but also submitted early (a first for me). And that’s not the end of what Scrivener can do—it has extensive tools related to formatting, metadata, and statistics, and I hear in the next update it’ll make coffee too. Check out Scrivener at literatureandlatte.com.
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