Ryan Amato, Marketing Coordinator
Any writer knows that the actual process of writing can be extremely tedious and hard to keep organized. If you’re anything like I was, you’ll have hundreds of notes stored on your computer in various Microsoft Word documents, notebooks overflowing with fleeting ideas, and no possible way to keep any of it straight when you actually decide to start writing.
I take pride in my ability to keep things organized. If you had the chance to know me during high school, you would know that I liked to color-code every single class I had, right down to the pencil. There’s just something about cohesion that really makes me feel alive—I could just see a flash of the color blue and immediately know that was my math textbook. That being said, all of my (unfinished) writing projects posed a particularly difficult challenge: they couldn’t be color-coded. I suddenly would have multiple documents of notes for just one story, on top of the main draft and other documents for random parts I would think of on the fly. The more I worked on a certain project, the longer the Word document became, and the harder it was to go back and make edits or add parts in. It seemed like this was the way life had to be for me.
Luckily, I found a solution.
“I’m not sure how exactly I came across it, but the second I discovered Scrivener, my life changed. In the most clichéd way, the sky parted and the heavens shone down upon me.”
I’m not sure how exactly I came across it, but the second I discovered Scrivener, my life changed. In the most clichéd way, the sky parted and the heavens shone down upon me. Coming from the mindset that Microsoft Word was the only way for me to work on a writing project, Scrivener seemed to be everything I wanted bundled into a single, downloadable file for my Mac.
What is Scrivener, you ask? Besides being God’s gift to writers, it’s an application for your computer that is specifically tailored for writing projects. When I say “writing projects,” that could be virtually anything that requires you write words to complete said project. Scrivener offers templates for novels, academic essays, short stories, poems, recipes, screenplays and scripts, and so many more formats. I haven’t used every one of them, but seeing the variety is akin to using a red book cover, red notebook, and red folder for all of my history classes.
So, what exactly does Scrivener do that Microsoft Word doesn’t? I have only one answer: a lot. The most obvious difference between Word and Scrivener is that Scrivener allows you to write your projects in separate sections (in the same document), all neatly contained in a small sidebar on the left of the screen. Not only does the sidebar feature organize your writing, you are also able to insert pictures and old Word documents for easy reference instead of having everything open in different windows. As someone who always had my notes for a story saved somewhere in the labyrinth of my computer files, this feature has saved my life the most.
If you want a full list of features that Scrivener has to offer, you can check out their website. There’s also plenty of resources like videos or blogs that give really in-depth tours of the magic behind Scrivener.
For me, the program feels like I’ve got a virtual color-coded set of school supplies right at my fingertips, and I’ll never get lost looking for that one cool note I made in 2014 ever again. Actually sitting down to write is way easier, because now I don’t have to spend the time clicking back and forth between separate Word documents and multiple Google Chrome tabs. Now I just click back and forth between Scrivener and multiple Google Chrome tabs. Making edits takes half the time, too; now, when I decide that I actually hate a certain section, I can easily navigate where it is and delete it, or if I’m unsure about a passage, I can just make a separate section in the sidebar and quarantine it until I want to use it. Even if the difference is slight, it’s there.
Now, you’re probably wondering, “Yeah, this sounds great and all, but how much does it cost?” Unfortunately, Scrivener is not free, but if you plan on getting a lot of use out of it, it is extraordinarily cheap. The whole thing comes to a one-time $45 purchase, plus tax, but like I said, it’s entirely worth it if you know you’re going to write a lot. Plus — if you’re low on funds like me or any other college student — you can do a quick search for Scrivener coupons, and you’ll find there’s plenty of resources that offer 20 percent off.
Even though you might not have heard of Scrivener, you may have heard of some of the writers who use it. It’s particularly popular with several young adult writers, including but not limited to: Sabaa Tahir, author of An Ember In The Ashes series, Tomi Adeyemi, author of the Children Of Blood And Bone series, and Scott Westerfeld, author of the Uglies series. Scrivener’s website also has a page where published authors can voice their support for the software. Since I read each of the authors above, I feel even more comfortable using Scrivener, knowing that authors in the industry can use it and be successful. If you won’t listen to some random college student, at least take it from actual published authors!
Ever since using Scrivener, I haven’t looked back. It has single-handedly revitalized the way I write and makes me feel so much more secure in my organization. If you’re just on the fence about using Scrivener, there’s a free trial you can download before you make any decisions. But I still urge you to try it—you might just change your life.