Six Weeks of Scrivener

I’ve been using Scrivener for about six weeks now, although I’ve only really been composing in Scrivener for a couple of weeks.

At this point, I have some pro and con observations.

Organized, and fairly intuitive. It’s a pretty easy system to find your way around in. It’s really an organizational tool rather than a word processor, and it’s very good at that.

It’s an organizational tool rather than a word processor.

Now, in order to make sense of my opinion, let me give you some background.
I’ve written in Word Processors since the early ’80s (when I used PC Write). I write in a fairly linear fashion. I write the whole document one end to the other.

But here are the things about using Scrivener that bug me, precisely -because- the program isn’t a Word Processor.

1) I’m struggling with not having the document look like a Word doc. While I realize this is stupid, it’s still the case.

2) I sorely miss the synonym function of Word.

You know, the thing where you right click on a word and up pops a menu where you have a list of synonyms? I used that function in Word a LOT, apparently. (Now, I realize that there’s a similar function in Scrivener, where you can go to the online thesaurus, but since I mostly use Scrivener when offline, that does me NO good.)*

3) I feel like I’m not working with a whole document.

OK….I put the whole document into Scrivener and divided it up into parts so I could evaluate each part separately. Rather like having a de facto outline of the manuscript. So the entire document IS there in Scrivener. However, I keep feeling that I’m just looking at parts. Yes, I know I can get Scrivener to show me the whole 125K document at once. I do know that. But I still feel like I can’t see it. (I suspect that this is because I’m very accustomed to using the Find function to get around a document. And yes, there is a Find function in Scrivener, but it’s not exactly the same.)

4) I’m freaked out that my formatting is off.

I was surprised how much this bugs me, but when I drop in a section of text, it sometimes doesn’t hold the format. A lot of this is because I don’t know the formatting end of Scrivener very well, and haven’t really bothered to learn it since I’m planning to export this project to a Word doc to do formatting and final clean up. But I didn’t realize how much it would bug me when looking at a section of text that didn’t appear exactly how I wanted it. Even with the Pilcrow on (which is how I compose in Word), I still don’t know how to fix everything.

All of the above? They’re not issues with Scrivener. They’re actually issues generated by my expecting Scrivener to -look- exactly like Word, at which it fails because….oh, yeah, it’s a totally different program.

I’m pressing on with this draft of the book in Scrivener. I’m trying to keep an open mind. This is not much different than, say, changing from PC Write to AmiPro, from AmiPro to WordPerfect, from WordPerfect to Works, from Works to Word….or even from Word 2003 to Word 2010. Learning to use a system takes time.

But when I get to the exporting point, we’ll see how I feel about Scrivener. I don’t know if the above issues are constraining my writing. I certainly hope I can get over those things!



ETA: I also miss the auto-correct for spelling. My fingers often type all the correct letters, but not necessarily in the correct order, and Word often fixed that for me (although the results were sometimes in error.) But more often than not, the Autocorrect As You Type saved me time.


4 thoughts on “Six Weeks of Scrivener

  1. Looking around I found an article to sync with an external text editor, not sure if you are using a mac or pc but I would think the method would work either way. This, if I read correctly, would give you the ability to sync it with word, do some work there and sync it back to scrivener so you could use the best of both worlds. Here is the link:

    Question.. My 14 year old daughter has created a world with magical constructs and has notes upon notes written everywhere. I use scrivener for work writing hearing decision and for my little blog but not on the scale that you use it. With the complexity that my daughter’s world is shaping up I think scrivener would be the thing for her to use and I don’t mind buying her some tutoring or instruction online but in your opinion do you think, since you started using is recently, that the learning curve may be too much for a 14 year old. She is quite intelligent and maintains a 3.6 gpa. Thanks…


    1. I’ll have to look at that editor…I’m still learning this system, so every bit of help helps ;o)

      In your daughter’s case, I would say that if she already has a way to organize her information, then Scrivener might not be helpful, but since she’s young, I seriously doubt the learning curve would present a problem for her. There are tons of video tutorials to walk people through things, as well as the included tutorial (part of the program.) Most kids are experienced at learning new programs.

      On the other hand, if she’s very tactile, like I am, the system might not work as well. For me, I like having physical copies of photos and maps and articles that I can spread out on a desk and look at all at once. This is one of the drawbacks of keeping information locked up inside a computer…you just can’t do that. So a lot of her value would be determined by her working style.

  2. Hi, am I right in guessing that you are working on the Windows version of Scrivener? I’m the developer of the Mac version, and sort of head honcho at Lit’n’Lat (we’re a tiny company so I don’t often feel like the boss…). From your description, most of your cons are already addressed in the Mac version and should be coming to the Windows version in the next major version, sometime in the next year or so (I know, a long time!). So, there will be a page view mode (the Mac version didn’t have that in the past either, but it turns out a lot of writers like using it, even if I never do, so we introduced it and it will come to the Windows version too). Also, the scrivenings mode (where you view all your texts together) will act just like a single document so that all the sections don’t feel so separate. The Windows developer is also working on a great dictionary tool with synonyms from various sources. I know this doesn’t help you much right now, as this is all stuff in development, but if these things put you off but you like other aspects of Scrivener, I hope you’ll at least consider giving it another look in a year or so when a lot of these new features are introduced. Best regards, Keith

    1. Good to know, Keith. (It’s possible that the next computer will be a Mac).

      A lot of the problems I’m having so far are simply that I’m learning a new system. FWIW, I do think this is a great program. My frustrations seem to be entirely that it isn’t the program I’ve been using for years! So don’t sweat it ;o)

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