How Scrivener Saved Me

There I was beavering away on my novel, excitedly scribbling down words that, by and large, made sentences but not much sense. I enjoyed the freedom of handwriting, seeing the ink on the page, the feel of the pen gliding over the paper despite the results looking like some kind of ritualistic spider massacre.

I am a pantser not a planner, writing scenes willy-nilly when thoughts come to me, for example, I was walking my dog and said good morning to a fellow dog walker. Their reply was ‘ooh, sorry, I was in a world of my own.’ That short and ordinary interaction became the catalyst to a scene between my main character and the antagonist in my novel, Cyber Cell.

I was doing things that I thought the cool people do, writing in cafes and pubs, sipping tea and eating cake. A lot of cake. I enjoyed it, I had more words than I knew what to do with, but they were no good to me solely on paper. I’d filled a A4 notebook and estimated it was about 30,000 words.

That was daunting. What was I going to do with it? The story was getting too big, I was getting lost and overwhelmed with all the little details of the story, the characters, the sub-plots, the settings. I stopped writing.

I know, I thought. I’ll see if there are any local transcribers out who’d type it up for me. I sent an email, it went like this:

Hi, I am looking for a quote for typing up 80 to 100 pages of A4 (lined) handwritten work, please.  

Thanks in advance

That was October 2017, I’m still waiting for the reply. I didn’t have a professional signature or businessy sounding address so they probably thought it was someone checking out the competition or just some joker.

After that I resolved to stop being so bloody lazy and write it up myself. I fired up Microsoft Word and set to it. Then I lost it after about 4,000 words. I got lost with what scenes were going in where, who said what and when, I literally lost the plot!

How JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter on Word I do not know but massive thumbs up to her (and for making an absolute fortune!). It was this very question that led me to finding Scrivener. I had no idea there were software programmes specifically for writing novels and the like. Finding it was an epiphany, a eureka moment that keeps me going even today!

I read the reviews and people said it was hard to use, so I did the 30 day free trial. By day one it was too late for me, I was hooked. It’s true there’s a lot to get you’re head around because there’s so much functionality in one programme, but I wouldn’t say it’s any harder than writing a whole novel on Word.

I’m a ‘press it and see’ kinda gal, if there was an big red button called ‘the end of the world button’ I’d definitely want to press it. Have a go is what I say, although I did have a go at something and ended up deleting my project! Whoops! Luckily, Scrivener backs up your work for you and I didn’t have to go and curl up in a dark corner.

If you’re not a press it and see kind of person then they have umpteen video tutorials to help you, there’s a very helpful help centre who pointed me in the right direction, and there’s also a friendly forum for all things Scrivener.

My favourite thing about Scrivener is well, everything! The structure of the binder keeps me organised, I can easily see where I am in the plot and what needs work, I can move scenes around into different chapters and I can record little details about my characters or settings in a folder that’s only a click away in the binder. It’s all there in one place.

It’s taken a while but since finding Scrivener I have written up all my handwritten notes and not employed someone else to do it. I’m up to 35,000 words, of those there are 6,798 ‘the’s in my book! Scrivener can tell you your word frequency if you’re a bigger for repeating the same words! Although I have a long way to go I’m glad it will be with Scrivener..

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it already but I do like Scrivener. I recommend it hence it’s the only advert on my site. Check it out, let me know what you think, maybe you use it already and I’m late to the party!

Buy Scrivener 3 for macOS (Regular Licence)

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