Scrivener, Is It Really Worth the Bother?

by Joel Friedlander on April 25, 2014 · 69 comments

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It must have been a couple of years ago that I started hearing about this program with the funny name: Scrivener from somebody called Literature and Latte.

In fact, back in August, 2011 even though I had never used the software, I had author Austin Briggs write a blog post about just how great Scrivener is for writers.

Eventually I downloaded the program when I realized it cost $45, much less than I would have expected from all the talk.

That’s when the trouble started.

Back in the 1990s?

After installing the program, I was baffled. I felt a little—within the confines of the very aesthetic System X conventions—like I was back in the early days of software development.

In the late 1980s and into the 1990s, everyone who developed a program to do a specific function, also had to design the entire user interface as well. They shared some conventions because of the underlying operating system, but each went its own way from there.

Consequently, there was a lot of creativity, different metaphors for dealing with disks, directories, and files, but there was also a lot of chaos.

It was a time in which entrepreneurs came up with things like plastic and cardboard keyboard overlays to help the poor struggling user swap visual instructions every time they switched programs.

Scrivener—Too Much to Learn?

Look, I’ve learned a lot of software over the years, but I haven’t grown fonder of it. These days, we know how to use a lot of our software the first time we see it, and the touchscreen has emphasized that ease and familiarity.

But Scrivener was going to involve a new way of thinking. Here’s what I tried:

  1. The manual. Yep, I have been known to read them. This one is a massive 540-page PDF that starts with a 3 page essay on the philosophy of the word processor. I was amazed at the number of topics in the manual, and started to realize maybe there was more there than I could discern.

  2. A coach. When the manual failed, I found the wonderful Amber Starfire through BAIPA. She knew the program well and spent 2 hours in a screen sharing session answering all my questions patiently and walking me through the program. It was great. But it seems like neither my comprehension nor my memory are getting better, and without a project in Scrivener, I was still a bit baffled.

  3. Messing around. This is what I have been doing. I know there’s a huge depth of functionality in Scrivener, things I don’t even know I don’t know. I have found how to use the Research folder, and how Scrivener can be used to organize text more fluidly and functionally than any other program I’ve ever seen. But yeah, I’m basically messing around.

That is, until just a few weeks ago. That’s when I ran into a completely different—and much better—way to unleash the power of this program. Scrivener is the best software tool for writers I’ve ever seen, and I’m finally coming to understand, appreciate, and use its awesome power.

Coming Monday

Check back on Monday, when I will explain how to overcome the “Scrivener learning curve” and put this amazing tool to work for you. I guarantee it will make your writing life better and more fun.

Photo: I am a proud affiliate for Scrivener and links in the post include my affiliate code.

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    { 66 comments… read them below or add one }

    Terry Yelmene September 15, 2015 at 7:22 am

    I explain the all too common love/hate theme being discussed here a bit differently. My explanation goes something like…

    Hello! I’m a tech geek and an old process engineer. I am definitely NOT a writer. But I find myself writing of a living these days… and no one is more surprised that I am! How do I do it? I don’t use a word processor. Instead, I use the world’s greatest writing ‘work’ processor; called Scrivener. Scrivener isn’t document-centric, rather is supports any work activity sequence, workflow automation, or writing contained work process and the associated tools integration that are employed to process the work of ‘writing.’

    Just as soon as you can open up your mental model toward creatively thinking about the work you’re doing (somewhat like an old process engineer) and stop constraining your thinking to just creating/managing documents for the sake of documents, you life will be 1000% better. A light bulb will come on and you won’t just like Scrivener, you’ll have to be a Scrivener lover… just like me. Until then, you won’t be able to understand it, kinda hate Scrivener, and you’ll be lost in the desert with MicroShit Word.

    Now, all you real writers, please make your way out of the desert! You’ll be more prolific and the world will benefit from everything you’ll give us to read!


    Joel Friedlander September 16, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Thanks, Terry, glad you found the tool that works for you.


    Greg September 7, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Gosh, I just don’t get it. Scrivener appears to be a reincarnation of some sort of word processing program from, as you say, the 90s. It’s interface is unintuitive, and its features are…well, redundant. If you have Word (or Open Office, for that matter) and Evernote you have everything Scrivener offers…and, insofar as I can tell, more.


    Steven Monrad October 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Joel, I use Scrivener but got here because of your advice to write directly in InDesign. The ease of organization with Scrivener make it easy to write – it’s the output formatting nitty gritty that gets tricky to learn. Why not just write in Scrivener, compile to rtf and have the book designer cut and paste into InDesign? Scrivener admits to not being for layout or for word processing. Thanks


    Joel Friedlander October 12, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Steven, thanks for your comment. Just to be clear, I didn’t recommend writing in InDesign, a practice that has no appeal for me. The author of the article was David Bergsland. Your workflow, i.e. Scrivener →RTF →book layout software is the one I use most often.


    JMK October 8, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Not sure if you have a mac or not… if so, it sounds to me like you had problems with the complexity of Scrivener. What’s great about it is you can use only the functions you need. Yet, I found that Ulysses III app from The Soulmen is a much easier writing program to use. It’s simplicity. It’s a plain text editor and eliminates the formatting headache. When you export your text you can choose to save it in all the popular formats. You should really check it out. I use Ulysses for all my writing (coming from a novelist prospective).


    Rob June 25, 2014 at 5:08 am

    My daughter (15) loves Scrivener. She is not technical and just uses the app or some fraction of it.

    I am technical but unlike my daughter I hate Scrivener’s ugly user interface with a passion. I cannot figure out how to set up the levels to get the heading and subheading that I want, and after seeing someone say the manual is 540 pages I realize why I cannot stand Scrivener.

    That said, I am trying to help a friend make a Kindle book that he can sell. Apple Pages 5.2 is useless because it cannot create a hyperlinked table of contents (apparently the old version could). Ulysses is likewise useless for this. I don’t have Word on my Mac so that is not an option. Scrivener is able to make a Kindle .mobi ebook and do it pretty well it seems but what a clunky and ugly interface and workflow to actually get there.


    Karen May 1, 2014 at 9:15 am

    A 50% off scrivener offer from! I wish I’d seen it as I paid full price a few months ago. But I do love it and it was worth it at full price!


    Joel Friedlander May 1, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Thanks for the tip, Karen, I’m going to let people know about this.


    Rich April 25, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    I have been using Scrivener for 3+ years and love the program. I learned just by trying things out. When I gave my laptop to my son and his family I purchased a copy of Scrivener for them; and I finally bought a Dummies book to learn more. Some of it I knew intuitively, other parts opened new possibilities.

    I use it for three major projects, different than the typical writer. 1) Seminary curriculum and all prep notes, etc. It has made managing the seminary program so much easier. 2) Blog writing; I maintain four blogs and this allows me to sort and manage and write in all four. 3) Special writing projects. I just completed an article for a journal and what a difference this made. Organization, footnotes, etc. I exported to .docx format with no problems (although I had to convert footnotes to endnotes in Word, but that took 20 seconds).

    This has changed my writing life, all for the good. It is right at the top of my Mac apps with Mellel, TextExpander, and Tinderbox.


    David Ivory April 25, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    To all the Scrivener ‘scowlers’ intimidated by the features – it’s really not that complicated.

    It is a simple get-out-of-your-face word processor – use full screen mode to clear all distraction. It is uncomplicated as a word processor
    The other interface major element is the folders. Use one folder for the novel or story and create new documents for each chapter or section

    Give the folders and internal documents a descriptive name – it won’t appear in the compiled completed file.

    This gives you an overview at a glance of the work in progress. You can drag and reorganise the chapters or sections easily. Best of all is that if you have a structure or outline you can create this as a template – setting up the chapter documents beforehand and then chug through them completing the writing.

    Other folders are for research, characters studies, PDFs, web clippings etc… And all are in one place. Templates mean you can create a character outline easily in a Characters folder.

    Save the whole Scrivener file to a Dropbox folder on your PC or Mac and never loose anything. Scrivener saves continuously so you don’t need to remember. And Dropbox backs it up and you can access the files from any of your computers.

    Repeat – It saves continuously so you never loose anything. Use Dropbox for backups and multiple PC access so you can write anywhere. (this will be great when the iOS version is eventually released)

    These three things are the key to why Scrivener deserves a second look, and anyone using Word can get these benefits without reading the manual.

    This seminar seems like a great way to reinforce and develop how to use it well – and Scrivener is a great tool that gets out of your way so you can write better.

    If you’re a scowler give Scrivener another go – you really won’t regret it.


    Rebecca April 25, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    I noticed that you never mentioned the tutorial in this post. I started with the free version, which has a very useful and easy tutorial that does a great job of giving someone everything they need to know about the program. Is it possible that you didn’t receive the tutorial, since you started via the paid version?


    Joel Friedlander April 26, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Hi Rebecca, no it was just an oversight. I did go through a number of the videos and they were, indeed, helpful.


    Gina Drayer April 25, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    I love the program too. I’m always interesting in seeing how other writers use it so I’ll be back Monday for sure!

    For my money, the best feature is the ability to keep all my research (be it photos, text, or websites) organized with my writing. It saves me from having to dig through folders on my computer or pulling up a web browser to check a fact.

    I wish some of my favorite plug-ins worked with Scrivener (Grammarly and proWritingAid). And the feature thing b/w Mac and PC. I broke down and purchased another copy for my Mac. I use it to compile, but I write on my windows laptop.


    Audrey Kalman April 25, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    I’m anxious to read what you have to say Monday also. I’m now a Scrivener convert! I had a similar experience of giving up on Scrivener initially after trying to figure it out on my own. But after downloading it again and deciding to “RTFM” (i.e., take the tutorial), I have come to really like it. In fact I transferred the first three chapters of my novel-in progress to Scrivener and (happily) have abandoned Word 7. (I have been an MS word user for more than 20 years and I absolutely despise Word 7. It is so terribly organized and overly stuffed with features I don’t use in my writing work.) Scrivener seems to offer just the word-processing features I need with the added benefit of organizational help specifically tailored to novel-writing. I plan to pay up at the end of my trial period and continue using it.


    Joel Friedlander April 26, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Sounds like you’re making great progress, Audrey. I know the more productive time I’ve had in Scrivener, the more I want to use it.


    Widdershins April 25, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    I too, am a ‘Scrivner Scowler’, and having struggled to decipher the logic some years ago, I concluded it wasn’t for me. Recently I decided to delete the software from my computer but hadn’t got around to it. (gotta love writer procrastination!) However, along comes Joel’s email … and I’ve decided to give it one last chance to woo me.


    Michael Alvin April 25, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Joe,

    I enjoy your ideas- they are always quite practical. As a person on a fixed income, I also appreciate that you are not always trying to dun me with a couple of leading suggestions which drag me right into your latest offer of a course that’s $49 (usual $149) that’s only good for three more days! I would have to be Bill Gates to afford all this “help” that a lot of so-called author advocates are peddling!

    By the way, I couldn’t get your “Show Windows” button to work above despite trying it three times. Thanks a lot Joe!


    Joel Friedlander April 26, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks Michael.

    The buttons are part of a screen shot, it’s just an image, so they won’t do anything if you press on them. There is a training that I’ll be introducing you to next week, but there’s also a lot of free content that can be very helpful, so hang in there.


    Carla Douglas April 25, 2014 at 1:15 pm


    Can’t wait to see what you have to say about Scrivener on Monday. I’ve been using it on and off for several months, and hearing from many sources how wonderful it is.

    I agree it’s an organizational marvel, but it’s frustrating enough in other ways that I think it has actually been a barrier to productivity for me.

    Fingers crossed that all that’s going to change soon!


    Joel Friedlander April 26, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks Carla. I’m not a ninja hey, but my whole view of the program and using it has definitely changed.


    A.K.Andrew April 25, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Scrivener is a fantastic program, and yes the manual is v. detailed. My holy grail for how to use Scrivener came in the form of David Hewson’s ebook.

    He also gives away for free a template that is perfect for a novelist, and within the template it shows (briefly) how to use each section. Here’s the link for the free template.

    That said, I also feel there is much more that I don’t know that I’d like to learn. Thanks so much for the webinar.


    Joel Friedlander April 26, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Thanks for the tip, A.K.


    Susan Hawthorne April 25, 2014 at 11:35 am

    I downloaded the trial version of Scrivener some months ago and it was way too bewildering. I don’t feel I need all these steps to write my story.
    I use MSWord 2003 (ok, I’m a dinosaur) and love it. The only other thing I use is Excel to keep track of my character index and chapter by chapter synopsis.
    I tried using Scrivener on a test basis for a story and all it did was confuse me. I couldn’t find things. It was annoying, confusing and a waste of my time.
    I look forward to reading your next post on it – but I can’t imagine how you can make it “easy” :)


    Judith April 25, 2014 at 11:25 am

    I can’t wait for Monday! Some writers I know are very enthusiastic about Scrivener. I’ve only made a few short attempts to work with it, but quickly got frustrated. The videos at their site were not much help. However, given the enthusiasm of others, I’m willing to believe it’s worth trying again.


    C. Hope Clark April 25, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Fought the learning curve for a week and tossed it. I’m such a linear writer, and I may write on my laptop on the road or in my study or someone else’s computer when I arrive at a destination. I guess I’m old-fashioned, but all the facets of Scrivener frustrated me.


    ngb April 25, 2014 at 9:35 am

    I absolutely love Scrivener and this is without even coming close to tapping it’s full potential. I started my MS in Word and if I would’ve continued down that road I’d still be writing it. Scrivener made all the difference!


    Frances Caballo April 25, 2014 at 9:33 am

    I’m so glad you wrote this post, Joel. I missed the session when Amber spoke at BAIPA. I keep reading how Scrivener is great (Michael Hyatt uses it too) and I just haven’t gotten around to learning the program. I look forward to your Monday post!


    Blaine Moore April 25, 2014 at 9:30 am

    I am a big fan of Scrivener – did you try using the tutorial that it comes with that walks you through the features simply by using one of it’s own files? I found that that introduced me to the basics, and you only need the basics to see a great increase in productivity.

    All the little features can be ignored and learned as you need to know how to do something specific; there’s no need to “master” the full program right from the outset. Even just using the organizational features and as a word processor is enough to make it worth using.


    Joel Friedlander April 26, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Hi Blaine, yes I did go through some of the tutorial videos, and they were helpful, but I didn’t get a good overview of the program from them. And you are right, the best way to learn any big program is just finding out how to do the 1 thing you need to do now. Did it the same way with Photoshop, InDesign, and many more.


    Gary Glynn April 25, 2014 at 9:06 am

    I have been using Scrivener since the Windows beta came out about three years ago and think it is the greatest tool for writers ever developed. So far I have used it on five different fiction and non-fiction book projects, and I also use it to organize large amounts of information related to two businesses. These days I refuse to use Microsoft Word for anything longer than three pages. From the beginning I found Scrivener to be both useful and easy to use, and over time I have incorporated more and more of the features into my work. In transitioning from Word to Scrivener the first thing I noticed was that in Scrivener it was vastly easier and less time-consuming to organize information/scenes for the first draft. A book-length Word document is like an ancient scroll of papyrus, which works for the reader but is horrible for the writer. Scrivener is structured like a digital stack of 3×5 cards which can be shuffled and organized with ease. Literature and Latte have also come out with a very useful new program called Scapple, which is a very flexible mind-mapping/organizational software. Like Scrivener I use Scapple for both my writing and for all manner of other things that are completely unrelated to writing.


    Diane Tibert April 25, 2014 at 8:49 am

    I gave Scrivener my time for several weeks. I bought into all the praise and the great price. After much frustration, loss of production and a feeling I was only replacing one program (MS Word) with another (Scrivener) and gaining nothing of value, I ditched Scrivener and never looked back.

    I have my own writing habits that work great for me. The disjointed method Scrivener uses didn’t work for me, and I wasn’t prepared to waste more time to figure it out when I can do everything I want in Word. I don’t need all those tabs and things cluttering my screen.

    Like you wrote: I’ve learned a lot of software over the years, but I haven’t grown fonder of it. These days, we know how to use a lot of our software the first time we see it, and the touchscreen has emphasized that ease and familiarity.

    I don’t mind putting in time to learn something new that will give me something new, but I won’t duplicate things for the sake of duplicating them.

    I’m glad Scrivener works for many others, but we are not all hardwired the same.


    Joel Friedlander April 25, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Diane, I think you’re exactly right that writers have to find the tools and processes that work best for them. For 2 years I did almost all my writing on an iPad with a wireless keyboard, largely in my car!

    And no, we’re not all wired the same, that’s the truth. But I find Scrivener much less intimidating now, and I hope you’ll check back on how I got to this place in my post on Monday.


    MMJustus April 25, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    This is about where I am, too. I use Word to write, and I keep a spreadsheet for wordcount, and anything more is just clutter for me. I downloaded the free PC trial version a while back, opened it a couple of times, looked at all the stuff all over the screen and basically yelped and closed it back up again.

    I like the concept of Scrivener, but the software itself is just too distracting.


    Joel Friedlander April 26, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Yep, that’s exactly where I’ve been for a while, although I knew there was more, I didn’t know how to get at it and the environment was very confusing. But there’s hope.


    D.G. Kaye April 25, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Great information Joel and Michael. I also tried to conquer
    Scrivener and through in the towel. I even bought the book Scrivener for Dummies. I played around with the free trial they offered and I couldn’t wrap my head around it as I was cramming in so much information just learning how to publish an ebook at the same time. I am now hearing lots of great feedback about Scrivener so I am happy to know that you will be offering a seminar about it so that I may revisit the thought of trying again. Although I don’t think I will be available at the time you are running it, I have happily registered and look forward to listening to the taped seminar. I love the info you share with us Joel! :)


    Joel Friedlander April 25, 2014 at 10:32 am

    D.G. that sounds so familiar! I’ve been going back and forth with this program for almost 2 years. Check back Monday and see if you’re more optimistic, I know it’s working for me way better now.


    Michael W. Perry April 25, 2014 at 8:20 am

    I agree with your love for Scrivener. It’s a writing app done right. I create all my books in Scrivener and only when it’s clear that the content isn’t going to be moving around, do I move a book into InDesign.

    But those who talk about Scrivener’s complexity do have a point. Yes, it is possible to ignore the confusing stuff and just use the binder and text editing screens. But there are people who, for various reasons, find complexity too hard to ignore. They are paralyzed by all the choices.

    For instance, a friend of mine teaches writing at a Florida college dedicated to students with major disabilities. One of her main difficulties is that all too many of her students have been a bit too helped along through grade school and high school by their well-meaning parents. Now, they’re a thousand miles away from mom and she can no longer do their homework for them.

    I suggested that she check out using Scrivener with her students and she did. But she concluded that it was just too complicated for them, given all the other adjustments they were having to make to college.

    There really is a need for a less feature-rich version of Scrivener and not just for students like hers. Grade school, junior high and many high school students could benefit from an app that has all the best and most-used features of Scrivener without all the complexity.

    I’ve though of emailing Keith about that but for some reason haven’t gotten around to it. Perhaps it’s something his development team might want to take up after Scrivener for iOS is released. The more limited feature set of the iOS version might provide a good model for this lighter version.

    It might also make sense for it to include an institutional license for schools. Paying so much per student would allow every student, teacher and staff to use the Mac, Windows or (if a way to distribute can be found) the iOS version.

    And like many others, I’ll be looking forward to hearing the key to defeating that sometimes intimidating Scrivener learning curve.

    –Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books


    Joel Friedlander April 25, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Michael, I think Keith’s “development team” is extremely small, and way behind schedule as it is. That’s both a blessing and a curse, of course, but it also opens the door for third parties who can help level the incline on the learning curve, and that’s what I’ll be talking about on Monday.


    Gerald Hornsby April 25, 2014 at 7:29 am

    I was in the same boat. Scrivener was just too big, too complicated. I just needed to write words.

    That was, until last year. This isn’t link bait, but I wrote two blog posts about how I suddenly realised what Scrivener was about, and how I (a past middle-aged techie who bemoans the passing of MS-DOS) got it to work with me, instead of the other way round. It really was a revelation.


    Joel Friedlander April 25, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Nice posts, thanks for adding to the discussion, Gerald.


    J.M. Porup April 25, 2014 at 6:16 am

    A shame Scrivener does not produce a Linux version.


    J.M. Porup April 25, 2014 at 6:26 am

    Let me correct myself.

    A shame Scrivener does not produce a Linux version that works:

    I was going to sign up for their mailing list, but they don’t even offer a Linux radio button on the signup form (see above).


    Rudes April 26, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Still in beta stage. Maybe you can use Wine and try to run the version for windows. I don’t know, but I have read somewhere and it worked well.


    Eric G August 4, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    The latest beta was just released, July 22 (check their forum). I don’t know what the problems were with the previous version, but this one’s working great. The only oddities I’ve found are in fullscreen mode–sometimes the paper width control appears instead of the height control, or vice versa, but never at the same time.


    Debra L. Butterfield April 25, 2014 at 5:27 am

    Hi Joel,
    I was sold on Scrivener from the git go. I worked through their tutorial and learned enough of the basics to know its potential for me. Admittedly, I probably haven’t been using even 75% of what it can do, but what I am using is so much more than Word could ever do. I’m a PC user rather than Mac, (program is a bit different for PC, less functionality) and yes, I asked for the Dummies book for Christmas so I could learn more of it. Despite all that, I love the program and want to learn as much as I can. That’s more than I will ever be able say about Word.


    Joel Friedlander April 25, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Debra, thanks for reminding me about the tutorials, they were helpful in getting up to speed with the basics for sure. I continue to use both Scrivener and Word (and iAWriter, too) and they each have a place in my workflow.


    Jo Michaels April 25, 2014 at 4:57 am

    This is a really great post, Joel. I tried to love Scrivener (got it half price for winning NaNoWriMo); but, like you said above, the learning curve was steep and not a mountain I was ready to risk another novel in progress on. Had a big snafu on one, and it scared me. I plan to give it another shot, so your next post is of great interest to me. Carol Brill and I are in the same boat :) haha! I just wrote a post about Scrivener and Office 365 a couple of weeks ago. Huge response from both sides of the fence. Needless to say, I can’t wait to read your next entry. WRITE ON!


    Joel Friedlander April 25, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Yep, sounds familiar, Jo, but I’m my way to “ninja-hood” now, no looking back!


    John Williamson April 25, 2014 at 4:55 am

    Hi Joel,
    I published my first book using Scrivener: first on Amazon, then on other sites with epub, and finally a print edition using CreateSpace. You’re right in saying there is a learning process involved. But the good news is that you can become incredibly productive using only 10% of the functionality of the program and it will still knock the socks off any alternative program. And with time you can learn to use more and more of its functionality. I’ve been using it now for three years and I’m still learning!


    Joel Friedlander April 25, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Nice! Great results, John, and as you continue to use the program I’m sure you’ll get even better at it.


    John Doppler April 25, 2014 at 4:51 am

    I adore Scrivener. I didn’t at first; I had Word, why would I need another word processor? But then, after hearing the buzz about it, I decided to give it a try.

    I haven’t looked back since. Once you get it set up and configured to match your writing habits, it’s an amazing writing environment.

    I’m looking forward to your tips on it, Joel!


    Joel Friedlander April 25, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Thanks John, and don’t hesitate to drop in any tips you’ve come up with too!


    Carol Fragale Brill April 25, 2014 at 4:26 am

    “I’ve learned a lot of software over the years, but I haven’t grown fonder of it.”
    that line so describes me–in fact, it’s possible the more I learn the less fond I grow. So, I read this post and so NO!!! don’t make me learn one more techie thing.
    that said, I’ll read your next post and see if you can convince me :)


    Joel Friedlander April 25, 2014 at 10:08 am

    LOL hang in there, Carol, it’s going to be pretty painless!


    Michael M. McConaughey April 25, 2014 at 3:26 am

    Hi Joel. I’ve just made the transition to Scrivener, and am writing the sequel to my current non-fiction book with it. I’ve found the basics very easy to learn, so getting started with Scrivener is not an issue.

    Mastering it, however, is completely another matter.


    ElaineJackson April 25, 2014 at 5:28 am

    I am writing my first novel using Scrivener and I can see the potential – but like Michael, I have yet to master it…


    Michael M. McConaughey April 28, 2014 at 9:25 am

    I suspect that the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility applies, Elaine. We might get 90% of the benefit of Scrivener using but 10% of the features. Each additional feature gives us a slightly smaller additional benefit, to the point where it may or may not be worth investing the additional time to master it, given individual circumstances.

    Ultimately, it’s your writing that counts, not the degree of Scrivener mastery.

    Best of luck with your first novel!


    Corina Koch MacLeod April 28, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    That’s a good point, Michael.

    My greatest hurdle to using any new piece of software is to first figure out whether the software can do what I want it to do.

    After a great deal of digging around, I compiled a list of “writing moves” I wanted to be able to execute in Scrivener and then turned this list into a downloadable cheat sheet. It’s a great help when I forget how to do something in Scrivener. You can get it here:

    I think this cheat sheet speaks your 10%, Michael.

    And now, I’m trying to learn what Scrivener is capable of. One step at a time, right?


    Michael M. McConaughey April 28, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Indeed. Very much appreciate the cheat sheet link, Corina. Thank you.

    BTW, Michael is a pseudonym. There is a legal requirement that I not be publicly identified with my primary non-fiction topic. If you’re interested,

    Joel Friedlander April 25, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Exactly where I’ve been “stuck” for the last few months: able to use the basics, and really profiting from Scrivener’s organizational abilities, but knowing there was so much more…


    Eric James April 25, 2014 at 1:57 am

    Hi Joel, I had reservations as well. I am now a convert. I tried to explain one feature which has proven helpful to me – Collections. Perhaps this will be of interest to people following your series of posts :)


    Joel Friedlander April 25, 2014 at 10:06 am

    No worries, Eric, lots of people have written about this program, but it seems the vast majority of these posts are pretty basic. It’s getting into the depths of what this program can do that fascinates me.


    Theresa April 25, 2014 at 12:10 am

    I love Scrivener! It has helped me streamline my writing process. So much easier to move sections around, edit, adjust plot lines, etc. And of course, exporting an ebook with embedded images is now easy as pie. Just wish the Windows version was as well-developed as the Mac version. Windows version has quite a few annoying bugs. A big one: exporting your manuscript as a .doc actually only exports as a .rtf with a “.doc” filename.


    Joel Friedlander April 25, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Theresa, I know that the differences between the Windows and Mac versions have confused a lot of people, so what we really need is something that will show how to accomplish the same tasks on both platforms. More on this on Monday.


    Ryan April 26, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Oh please please please… :-)


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