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Inspired: Why all writers need to try Scrivener software

Sample Scrivener window in corkboard mode

Sample Scrivener window in corkboard mode

I learned about Scrivener, a software package for writers, through National Novel Writing Month. As a sponsor of the event, Scrivener is offering a free extended trial for NaNoWriMo participants. Did you just groan? I did, at first. I’m usually wary of sponsor-offered trials, but the community around NaNoWriMo is so generous and supportive that I decided to at least give Scrivener a look. Apparently the snappy inventors of the software got inside my brain when I wasn’t looking and built me exactly what I’ve always wanted – writing software that makes me a better writer.

For writers of every feather
I’ve shied away from other writing software packages because my writing varies widely: blog posts, essays, journalism, web copy, playwriting, nonfiction books, and now a novel. Many software options cover only one or two of these options. Scrivener works for all of them.

Organization
I’m usually guilty of harboring numerous Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, photographs, scribbled notes on post-its and napkins, and a mess of links that resemble a giant blob of letters. I constantly worry that I’ll forget or miss a key lightbulb moment that I had somewhere along the way. Scrivener keeps even the most copious note takers organized and makes the mind numbing tasks of project management a joy.

Inspiration
I’m not a terribly visual person by nature. I’m one of those oddball auditory learners. However, fiction pushes me to use my words to illustrate visuals. To help me in that process, I often pin photographs, sketches, graphs, and art onto several Pinterest boards that I consult during the writing process. I’m also a big believer in the power of inspirational quotes (and incidentally so is Emerson Page, the heroine in my current novel, Where the Light Enters.) Scrivener’s split screen option makes it possible for me to open a portion of my writing on one side of the screen and have images and virtual posts that I created on the other side. Scrivener makes these visuals a constant reminder and inspiration to me without hindering the act of writing.

Research incorporation
Curious to the nth degree, the research aspect of writing gets me jazzed about a new project no matter what genre it takes. I love being an archaeologist of words and ideas. Scrivener helps me keep all of that research organized and on-hand with its research folders, easy-to-build research templates, bulletin board functionality, and synopsis creator.

Putting it all together
God bless copyeditors. I adore them. I’m so glad there are people who love that work because it drives me bonkers. I also hate that my dislike for copyediting makes life for my copyeditors more difficult. The compiler feature of Scrivener helps lessen my copyediting guilt. With a few simple clicks, Scrivener assembles all the pieces of my manuscript into a cohesive whole in a variety of formats so at least the formatting is uniform and my copyeditors can focus on editing at the word level.

Support
I hate to download software and then feel like I’m on my own to figure it out. Given all the work I’m doing to prepare for NaNoWriMo, I didn’t want software that would take weeks to learn nor a tool that would be clunky to use during the mad dash of the month-long event. Scrivener has a comprehensive set of informative and entertaining videos that show you its power to enhance your writing. The basic 10-minute video explains all of the key features any writer needs to dive into Scrivener. For those who want to use the more advanced features, there are short videos to explain each of those features. There’s even an interactive demo available to you at all times. Have specific question? Just email them. They got back to me in 24 hours with a detailed answer. Scrivener is a feature buffet: use as many or as few as you like and be a better writer for it.

Other goodies
Scrivener takes dictation and integrates with my audio recording software that I use for my voiceover work. This is perfect for getting true-to-life down on paper. Creating revisions in one document is a snap and the Scrivener dovetails well with Microsoft Word. Importing and exporting content is a snap with drag and drop. For fiction writers, it’s got a groovy name generator tool. Outliners (like me) rejoice – outline until your heart’s content with many layers of organized detail available as you build your story from the ground up.

I could go on, but just go see it for yourself. Invest 10 minutes to watch the intro video and you may discover your new perfect writing partner. I certainly did. Now if they could make my meals, do my laundry, and walk my dog during NaNoWriMo, that would be perfect!

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, may the force be with you and let’s connect to cheer each other to the finish line of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. You can find me on the NaNoWriMo platform as christanyc.

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