Several of my writing friends, including some who actually get paid to write, use Scrivener for drafting.  Various people have tried to convince me to try it, but I had a variety of excuses at hand.  Things like “my word processor works fine” and “I don’t want to start something new in the middle of a project” and “but how can I justify paying for something when I’m not making any money at writing.”

Shortly after my writing break, I decided to give the free trial of Scrivener a try.  I figured that it couldn’t hurt to look into it while I was getting all geared up for NaNoWriMo, and if I really liked it, I’ve spent $40 on video games that I’ve only played for a few hours and surely I could justify the price of one piece of helpful software.  But I would REALLY have to like it.

It turns out that I really like it.  I did the entire tutorial to explore the features, and I have to say that I was almost sold at that point.  Splittable windows is something I can do on my two monitors already, but splittable windows where I can lock one in (like my draft or outline) while easily clicking through my research and notes in the other to reference what I need without having to distract myself by leaving the program and digging around?  I stated salivating.

But the ability to link things like a wiki is what really sold me.  Until this point I’ve been using separate systems of a free, crappy wiki and physical paper notes.  Having the wiki-like ability in the program itself is golden.  And it has turned into a great way to organize my paper notes. I have a scanner at home, and I can easily scan and import stuff.  I still remember the time I lost a whole handwritten chapter of the Plague Novel somewhere.  I’m pretty sure I can avoid that, now.

As far as downsides, I sometimes get lost in the interface.  It’s this odd combination of way too simple for me to easily do what I want, but also way too complicated for me not to get distracted while trying to find what I need.  It’s somewhat intuitive, just not enough for someone that gets easily frustrated by technology (like me).  The sheer amount of organizational features can also get distracting, but that’s mostly because it encourages me to be way more organized than I am by default.  I think when the shiny newness wears off of those, I’ll have picked up a few habits that actually save me time.

Right now I’m mostly glad I purchased it, but I’ll give it a fuller review when I’m done with NaNoWriMo.  After 50k words and two months, it should be pretty broken-in.

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