Win This Free Giveaway: Scrivener

Scrivener is the greatest invention for writers since the word processor. I resisted buying this writing software because I thought I would waste too much time learning how to use it. After Dave, my writer’s group, and my friend, Lisa, all raved about Scrivener I had to try it out. It took about 20 minutes to learn how to use it, and 2 hours to master it. I felt like the creators of Scrivener figured out exactly what frustrated me about Word and created a software that makes my life so much easier.

Here’s are just a few features I love:

  1. It’s so easy to keep track of every scene. With the cork board feature you can see all the scenes at once, and move a scene around if its not working. progress
  2. On the right hand side, there’s a place to keep track of notes when you’re writing a scene.  You can choose if these notes are for just that scene or if it’s for the entire story. When I was using Word, I would write down notes on a pad of paper next to my computer, but then I could never remember which scene they were referring to.
  3. notesThe split screen allows you to write a scene while viewing another file at the same time. I like to keep a picture of one of my characters on the screen while I’m writing about them. It’s also helpful to keep the outline handy to make sure my scene is working with the rest of the story.split screen
  4. Scrivener encourages you to take risks. Within each scene you can take a screenshot of what you have written, and then start over fresh. At any point you can view the old and new scene side by side and then determine which one to use.
  5. Scrivener helps me keep track of my progress and set goals. I can set my target word count for each section and check something off as a first draft, revised draft or finished. With Word, I just had a giant folder with no way of knowing which scene was done.keep track
  6. One of the things that frustrated me about using Word is that it was so hard to find certain passages once the pages started adding up. On Scrivener, I can search for a minor character or a theme and it will compile every scene where that search word shows up. This helps me make sure that I resolve every part of the story and not get lost in just the main plot.
  7. I’m just focusing on the novel-writing features, but it also has great tools for screenwriting, legal briefs, and journalism.
  8. Oh, and in case you were wondering, it’s easy to export anything you write to Word or PDF.

Ok, there are so many other great features, but you’re going to need your own copy to really see what works for you. I wrote to the creators of Scrivener, and they gave me two free downloads to share with my awesome readers (one for PC and one for Apple)! Here’s how to win a free download of Scrivener:

In the comment section below, tell me about one good writing habit you have picked up or want to start using. ALSO, mention if you have an Apple or PC. I’ll pick the two winners on March 3.

If you can’t wait that long, you can buy it here for only $40! It is beyond worth it 🙂

58 comments

  1. I hear great things about Scrivener. I think that’s a great idea to be able to sort things by character and theme – it’s not just helpful to find things, but helps remind you of when you need to punch things up!

    Like

    1. Absolutely! After using this feature I realized how many themes I brought up and then let die. Scrivener is so good at letting you focus on the small details while also keeping in mind the big picture.

      Like

  2. A good writing habit I have is taking a moment, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, to write down a line or joke if a really good one just comes to me. The notes app on my iPhone is filled with random things…some of them don’t turn into anything (yet) but others have sparked entire poems, songs, stories, or chapters. I’ve found that if I try to remember and write it down later, it’s never as good as when it initially popped into my head, and I’ve gotten pretty good at capturing them. I have a Mac 🙂

    Like

  3. The best writing habit I have is to write every day for a minimum of 15 minutes, even if I don’t feel like it, am sick, or “don’t have time”. With the exception of a personal emergency, I have to do at least a little bit every day even if it’s with a pencil and napkin.

    Like

  4. The best habit I’ve picked up is just to write everything down. I used to get ideas for completely random scenes, but since they didn’t fit in with what I was doing at the time, I would ignore them. Now I’ve found that if I go ahead and write them down, I can save them for use later for either a different scene in my current story or a completely different story. It also helps to get that out of my head. I love the way writing flows when I have thought of a fun scene to write.

    It is the same idea for characters – I make sure to always keep a section of notes on each character and when I think of an interesting habit or flaw, I write it into one of them or create a new one right then and there, rather than trying to remain blindly focused to what I’m writing and have those little snippets of inspiration evaporate later.

    I use PC.

    Like

    1. It sounds like Scrivener is perfect for your approach to writing. I like that you can start a new “note card” for every idea, develop it as much as you want, and then play around with all the note cards to see if a story can come out of it. There’s also a folder where you can keep track of all your characters, and add little details to their file whenever they come up.

      Like

  5. I have a thesis deadline looming, and a lot of words still to write. The problem is that although I need to meet big word count targets, the words I’ve already written need constant redrafting and fine tuning, too. My new habit is to force myself to write up to a thousand words each day in just two or three hours, without dwelling too much on making them perfect, just to get the new ideas on the page. After relieving my word count anxiety, I feel sufficiently de-stressed to spend the rest of the day honing material that needs re-doing. I have Scrivener already on PC, and it’s great for thesis writing, but would love a copy for my soon to be acquired Mac.

    Like

  6. I always set a long rough draft aside and go back to at least a day later. It gives me more clarity in the revision process. Also, when it’s time to edit, I read copy aloud to hear mistakes. I have a Lenovo PC.

    Like

    1. Oh wow, I need at least a month before reading a draft! I have to wait until I’ve completely forgotten it and I can approach my writing like it’s someone else’s. I love the idea of reading it out loud. I just started doing that (with a recorder).Thanks for sharing your ideas 🙂

      Like

  7. Thanks for the explanation- I really wasn’t sure what “writing software” was. I just thought that, you know, you write. Now I’m seriously intrigued because, yes, Word is inadequate and often frustrating.

    One good habit I’ve begun is writing without editing at the same time. Going back to edit later is the best thing I’ve done with my life in a while!

    Like

    1. I didn’t understand what writing software was either 🙂 Word is great for short papers, but once you get past writing 30 pages, it really is inadequate.
      Separating the writing from the editing is a great idea; they really are completely separate tasks and con conflict with each other.

      Like

  8. I’m a writer of fiction and use free thought-streaming of my characters to drive the storyline, so it’s very easy to become sidetracked. I write footnotes constantly and highlight (background) specific passages that I believe may need as references. I use PC.

    Like

    1. It sounds like Scrivener is great for your technique. I had a really hard time creating structure, but it allowed me to move my ideas around into a meaningful plot line.

      Like

  9. This article is interesting timing. I just, this week, downloaded the free 30-day trial of Scrivener to see if I’d like it. Like you, I heard a lot of people rave about it and with the purchase of a new laptop, thought I’d give it a try. I went through the tutorial and admit to being a bit overwhelmed by it all but also in awe of how much it can do. Also, my one concern was exporting files into Word for final formatting, but sounds like that isn’t an issue either. Yay! I’m going to play with it and then maybe take the plunge. I appreciate your review and endorsement. The timing, as I said, was perfect.

    Like

    1. I’m glad this came at the right time for you. I wouldn’t get bogged down in the tutorial. Start playing around with all the buttons and see what you like using. As for exporting it to Word – just press the compile button and it asks if you would like to make it into a Word file. It takes only a second 🙂

      Like

  10. I’m a project manager and I use Scrivener to organize all the pieces of information and the different work streams. It has never been easier for me, my Scrivener project is my information database. With every release of our software product I start a new Scrivener project, and it quickly grows with all the meeting minutes, results of discussions, requirements, delivery plans, etc etc. It’s so easy to organize all that in one single place. The perfect way for me to master the chaos (I wish I had such a tool when I was a student). And Scrivener runs on my Mac.

    Like

      1. Before christmas I showed Scrivener to my niece. She just started her studies at the university, and she immediately recognized the advantages using Scrivener for all the notes etc. She runs Scrivener on a windows tablet and a windows laptop.

        Like

  11. First of all, have an outline. Doesn’t have to be detailed, but just a little something to keep you going. And, if you get stuck: Move on. Don’t fret over the bump in the road. Jump to the next part/scene/chapter/whatever and come back to it later. I’ve found that when I do go back, there wasn’t much I needed to add to finish the scenes or tie it together with the next. So trust yourself. And trust your PC 🙂

    Like

    1. I like this approach. It’s important to use the momentum of moving forward, and getting all of your basic ideas down. There’s always time to go back and develop your thoughts. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Like

  12. I always track changes in Word in red whenever I review a document so when I send it back to the person who sent it to me, he can see where I made changes without having to keep his and my copy side by side.

    Like

    1. Good idea! You can also use the review section in word which allows you to add comments to a specific section, and it will track any changes you make.

      Like

  13. Like others have said, the habit I really need to cultivate is writing every day, and in multiple ways, carrying a notebook so I can make noted. I live the idea of good practical software and have looked at Scrivener before but not taken the leap.
    Oh, and I have a PC.

    Like

    1. I always forget to carry a notebook with me, but I’ve found that it helps to keep notes in my phone, or send myself an email with an idea. Thanks for sharing.

      Like

  14. I love this software so much that I bought my editor a copy. Now if she would only use it. I also gave her your blog URL and maybe she will see herself in this comment…

    Like

  15. One good writing habit I’ve picked up over the past year was to stop being so shy about sharing my writing! I still hold on to my novel manuscripts, sure, for now, but writing creatively on a blog has allowed me to develop my form and gain positive/critical feedback from a diverse pool of writers. (I have a Mac!)

    Like

  16. My biggest tip for writing was making sure I documented the source material I research from various sources, including all biographical details about text, because there’s nothing worse than trying to find it again if something needs to be revisited. (I have a PC.)

    Like

    1. Oh man, I never remember my references. I write down inspiring quotes all the time and then I waste so much time trying to find out who said it. Good idea 🙂

      Like

  17. Some of the best tips are already taken, especially writing down an idea NO MATTER WHAT. I have found that to be the most important thing I can do for my writing. I always think I will remember it later, but I don’t. To help me keep to this commitment, I have purchased several little Moleskine notebooks. I LOVE these. They are durable and just plain fun to write in. All my notes go there and then I snapshot them to Evernote. I use a Mac.

    Like

  18. I’ve got a Mac and it can’t use my fave WordPerfect, which I always found SO easy for writing and formatting in tables so I can more easily see what I have and move things around, so for my current writing project (using OpenOffice — YUCK!), I keep having to make a file copy and go back to my SUPER slow and ancient PC to make updates in WP. This is NOT an efficient writing tip! It sounds like this Scrivener maybe is the answer to my frustrations.

    For my GOOD writing tip: I used this to finish my first novel: I committed to write just one page a day. It sounds so doable and it is that inertia of overwhelm that you really have to get past, so I almost always exceeded my goal. But on the days it just wasn’t happening, I’d give myself permission to defer that page until the next day instead of getting myself overly frustrated and distressed. I did the whole first “popcorn” draft (without editing) to get the story dumped and then went back and fleshed out the emotions and then made sure my characters were consistently quirky and only then did I edit for content.

    Like

    1. I love the term popcorn draft – that’s the perfect way to describe it. I’m trying to get my second version of a first draft done in a month and it’s exactly like making popcorn: apply pressure and make sure to collect every idea that pops up. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Like

  19. I have and love Scrivener, and recommend it highly. I’m trying to instill in my daughter a desire to write, she has a gift for a storytelling and would be a fantastic writer, and she has a Mac.

    The habit I need to develop most, is working on multiple projects simultaneously. I tend to let one or the other take control, and ignore the rest.

    Like

    1. Good advice! I have trouble multi-tasking, but I do find it helpful to be able to bounce back and forth between projects when one of them isn’t stimulating me in the moment. Good luck with your daughter!

      Like

  20. PC
    The best writing habit I have come across would be organization- What I mean by that is I have learned to create multiple documents for each idea I have when writing. It helps me to do this since I am once of those people with a varied thought process. For example, I am writing a novel at the present time. I have several documents labeled Chapter ?A, ?B, and so forth under a folder named To Be Determined. The fact that Scrivener offers the cork board and the ability to create multiple scenes within is perfect for the “roving” mind. I tend to write as I think, instead of front to back. To have the opportunity to write the way I think without creating 30 document pages? What a great world Scrivener has created!

    Like

    1. Yep, Scrivener was made for writers like you. It’s such a relief to have everything in one neat little package and I’m able to easily go back forth between files.

      Like

  21. Love the cork board feature. Much needed help for my disorganized mind. I find that when I write even a 1200 word blog post that I will often remove a section of it and save it to another file because that section kind of went off the track of the post theme I’m currently tackling. But that cut and “save as” section is valuable fodder for another post. I, too, dislike Word for writing but, after, all I can’t blame Word since it wasn’t designed for for organizing of thoughts, scenes, etc. Scrivener sounds like a great solution for shorter themed writing as well. I write on a Mac. Thanks so much for giving us this amazing opportunity to win a copy!

    Like

  22. The best writing habit I’ve picked up recently is to write the basic story out with pen and paper, then go back and re-write it in my writing application of choice. This basically acts as my first draft, so that my first typed draft is actually my second. It’s also faster to scribble than to type. 🙂

    The other habit I’ve picked up is getting up at 5am to write. It’s quiet, and dark and the coffee is strong and even if I don’t write a word, it’s still percolating. It’s still getting worked out. Then the rest of my day is free to do other things. The creative work is done for the day (though, I’m lucky…I work in a creative field).

    Hi, I’m Matthias and I’m a Mac…;)

    Like

    1. oh god 5am! Blahhh. I do like the idea of writing the first draft with a pen. Somehow it frees up your thoughts in a way that doesn’t happen when you’re typing.

      Like

  23. It is easier to write about somebody that you know, so I start by creating a personal profile/CV for my characters before I begin writing their story. Mac user.

    Like

    1. It’s funny but I can never start off with a character profile. I always end up writing a bunch and then figuring out who my character is through the words. But it would save a lot of time and help me focus if I did the profiles first. Thanks!

      Like

  24. I am a PhD student and have been looking for a writing tool that will make the tortuous process of writing a dissertation easier. I have now heard a lot of great things about Scrivener and am so ready to start using it for taking notes, keeping track of my thoughts and progress, and organizing my resources. Mac user.

    Like

  25. Yay, Tracy. Glad you took the plunge into the world of Scrivener. I knew you’d like it. And by what you’ve written in this post, it appears you’ve far exceeded my expertise already 🙂

    Like

  26. The best writing habit I’ve picked up is to always make a note of where I’m at before finishing writing for the day. Life is so hectic we can often be in a very different frame of mind from one writing session to the next. It wastes time trying to remember exactly what you were up to the last time you were working, and it takes away precious writing time!
    I enjoy being able to make notes regarding my work, which is so hard on Word!

    Another helpful habit I’ve picked up is to keep a clear set of aims for a particular chapter while I write. It’s easy to stray away from the main and important points you wish to make without frequently reminding yourself of what you should be focusing on.

    I’d love to have Scrivener, I’ve only started the trial last week but it is great! It helps you stay focused on what you are doing!

    Like

Comments are closed.