Scrivener – Your Complete Writing Assistant

Commentary Writing

“Mike, do you use any special software to write your blog posts?”

Yes. It’s called Scrivener

Microsoft Word

It’s a question I was surprised to hear because I don’t think most people go beyond Microsoft Word or similar “word processing” apps for writing. And indeed, Word is a great program. But it lacks some flexibility when it writing large documents, particularly those which require annotation and attribution.

Several years ago, I embarked on a mission to write a novel. Not surprisingly, Word was my platform. But I soon discovered that writing, particularly crafting a story for a novel, is not linear. You write something, then realize it really belongs in a section you wrote two weeks ago – or two months ago.

Certainly, it is possible to cut-and-paste with Word. But what if you could just take the entire section – paragraphs, annotations, whatever – and simply drag-and-drop it to a new location. And maybe you wind up doing that several times.

Scrivener

That’s when I discovered Scrivener. It is software specifically developed for writing long pieces, whether it be a novel, a screenplay, or a scientific paper. Scrivener’s interface makes it easy to see where things are. And just as important, you can easily move things around to build a more cohesive document.

The Scrivener Desktop, showing the writing area in the center. To the left, all posts in-progress or completed are categorized. Research documents are stored in folders at the bottom.
Photo by Author

Research

Microsoft Word and similar word processing programs, for all their writing functionality, only do one thing – they provide a writing platform. But often, you will refer to other documents for source information, for examples, or other supporting facts.

You can create multiple documents in Word, but there is no way to link research documents to your working draft. Sadly, research sometimes gets lost.

With Scrivener, it is easy to tie research to a draft document, so it’s always readily available.

This article was developed using Scrivener

But What About Blog Posts?

Truly, the vast majority of blog posts do not have the complexity of a novel or research paper. There may be research attached, but it is rarely comprehensive. The average blog post is less than 1500 words – it’s difficult to be very comprehensive in that amount of verbiage.

So why do I use Scrivener for my blog posts?1 Simply because I have it and I’m used to it. As one can see from the example below, I can organize my posts all in one place. I have a section for pending ideas, posts in development, and completed posts which have been published.

In-progress posts are stored under month folders, so I have a working plan of when each post will be published. Likewise, research and references are stored by reference to the anticipated publication month.

The Scrivener Desktop, showing the planning card view.
Photo by Author

There is still some work to do when I move the post to WordPress for publication on the website. Namely, I have to insert photos and tag them. But the hard work of getting a flow of ideas is already done.

It’s true that most bloggers don’t use something as sophisticated as Scrivener, but at a one-time purchase price of $44.95, the benefits are numerous.

As important as the writing software you use, your choice of writing locations can help your narrative development. In a previous post, I explained my favorite writing spaces.

What do you use for your writing? Tell us about your experiences.

NOTES

  1. I also wrote an article about my planning process for blog posts, using a white board and Scrivener.
Mike Worley

Mike is retired and lives in Louisville, KY, USA. He writes about lifestyle issues, particularly those affecting senior citizens. He also enjoys photography and works part-time as a college volleyball official.