Friday Five: The Scrivener Edition


In honor of massively computer-challenged Me learning how to use Scrivener for Windows

(writing software adored by oodles of writers), here are some glimpses into my journey:
                                                                                            image from
1) Yesterday I shed tears of frustration and pulled my hair. Literally.
2)  Today I teared up a tiny bit when faced with something I absolutely did not understand,
and then wiped away those tears and told myself "You might not even need to know that."
3)  My mantra: Even if I master only a tiny percentage of what this program can do, 
that tiny percentage will be huge in comparison to what I knew about Scrivener last week.
4)  The thought of writing with a "corkboard" and "index cards" has kept me going, and sure enough,
those are the features I’m "mastering" and will be able to use right from the start.
5)  I’m sure it doesn’t count for anything but I feel better prepared to learn this software
having read Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener in my sophomore English class.
Anyone else out there have an emotion-laden time learning this software?
(For those who mastered it without a problem, it’s probably best to keep that to yourself.)

25 thoughts on “Friday Five: The Scrivener Edition

  1. reminds me of when I went to do my postdoc in a computational biology lab not knowing a damn thing about programming – and I was getting my own UNIX machine. One of the postdocs said – don’t bother trying to learn all of UNIX, you’ll learn what you need when you need it and not waste time learning what you don’t really need.
    He was right ;o)


    • Oh, that’s such an encouraging story (although also intimidating. UNIX machine?!). Thank you for sharing and making me feel like I’m not the only person who’s ever struggled this way.

      (And can I say I love the idea of Doc doing his post-doc? I mean, come on, it’s fun to say!)


      • It was so fun, I did 2 postdocs… 🙂
        They always say the best time as a researcher is the postdoc period – no pressure to have to write grants, no classes, just working on cool problems. I have to say 15 years later, that’s probably right. 🙂


      • Doc did post-doc and post-doc again. The fun just never ends! 🙂

        I’m very glad you’ve hit the sweet spot in terms of your work and career. It seems many people are unhappy in their work so it’s always wonderful to hear a happy story.


    • Thank you for sharing, April. How long have you been using it?

      (I just realized I’ve hit over load for the day so am going outside to dig dandelions.)


      • Two years is a long time! You must be a pro!

        I did watch the videos before I started messing around with the program and it was a bit overwhelming. But now I have some skills so will watch again because it’ll make more sense (I hope). Either way, the guy’s voice is great fun!

        The Snapshot feature does seem awesome. So much of the program seems awesome, and I look forward to utilizing some of those features. 🙂


  2. A note, the Windows version is very buggy. It’s probably not you at all. 😉 It crashes on me a lot. If I didn’t love all the little features, I would have given up long ago and gone back to notecards and post-its.


    • Oy! Crashes on you? All the issues so far are mine, I think. I’m notoriously inept on computers but am plowing ahead.

      I’m glad you’ve found features you love enough to stick with the bugginess.

      Thanks for the pep talk, sister!


  3. Oh my God!! I’m also trying and it’s hard!!! Soemday I say to myself just go back to what you did before. I might have less hair since I started trying 🙂 anyway I think I will end the translation and start from zero with a new project.
    Godd luck girl, you can do it!


    • You’re learning it, too? We can be Scrivener buddies! Are you on a Mac or PC? I’m on a PC and don’t know if that makes a difference in learning curve (I have a feeling it wouldn’t for me; it’s all difficult. HA)

      So you’re working on your translation while learning Scrivener? That sounds really tough. I like your idea of learning Scrivener with a brand new project.

      Buena suerte a ti, tambien!


      • Y es I’m learning it too for PC although I’m not giving it enough time because of the translations. I look at it when I need a time away from the words, do translatiosn can be frustrating.
        They say that for Pc it has less features but I’m gratefull that way I can learn one thing at a time.
        How you are doing?


      • I’m doing better now with Scrivener. Am creating binder for new project and actually understanding things. Hooray!

        Hope you’re making progress, too. On Scriver AND your translation!


  4. I use Liquid Story Binder XE, which is supposedly similar. It took me about a day to figure out enough of it to be useful. I love it–having galleries of my characters, photos of places, an outline of my plot. Using this outline thingy, it’s the first time ever that I’ve felt confident to write out of sequence.

    Good luck on figuring out Scrivener!


    • A day?! A day?! Can you come hold my hand while I wade into the scary morass that is Scrivener?

      I checked out Liquid Story Binder and it looked very good, too. I’m glad the outline thingy is helping your broaden your writing experiences/processes. That’s such a good feeling to be able to tackle a project in a new and improved manner.

      Thanks for the luck, Barb. I need all I can get. 🙂


  5. Two comments on the lighter side

    Q: What lies on the bottom of the ocean
    and bobs up and down?
    A: A nervous wreck
    Q: What do you call a computer
    for sidtempered people?
    A: A crab apple.


    • Re: Two comments on the lighter side

      I’m both those things: nervous wreck AND a crab apple. But I’m trying to let go of both emotions.

      Thank you much for the laughs in the midst of all this!!


  6. I don’t know about the windows version, but the mac version was pretty seamless. I watched a series of tutorials that came with the version I downloaded. Maybe that would help you if you went to the Scrivener website. For me it’s greatest strength is in linking the index cards to the scenes. The corkboard is awesome. I also use the notes section for character bios and for websites and images that i just drop and drag in there. Having said all that, any new software takes a few weeks to get comfortable with. Good luck!


    • I had a feeling you caught on pretty quickly, Karen. You strike me as very computer savvy, and I’m trying hard not to be too envious. 🙂

      I love the corkboard, too. I’m very visual so am looking forward to using that. And the index cards! And the space for characterization and research and etc.

      Okay, I’m going to finish up here and get back to it. Haven’t looked at it since Friday so am intimidated by my rustiness.

      Wish me well…


  7. You are far braver than I am. And more savvy, I’m sure. I’m using OneNote (Microsoft Office product), an e-binder that –along with notecards & a hardcover journal– seems to suit my purposes. But then again, I’m not opposed to trying new things, so you never know….


    • Ooh, it sounds as if you’ve found something that works really well for you. Congratulations!

      As for me being more savvy, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I can’t imagine I’m more savvy than anyone here. But thanks for the vote of confidence.

      I’m going to put on my big girl pants, and get back at it.


  8. I’ve been Beta testing the windows version. They’ll continue to work on the bugs even after it goes on sale. I’m ready to buy.

    Watch the tutorial videos, absolutely. Then just concern yourself with what you need to do for today. That’s it. The index cards will create themselves, and you can add to them, move them around, etc., as you need to when the time comes. You can even copy/paste from Word into Scrivener.

    What you see on the screen (such as widened margins, etc.) from the copy/paste won’t be like that when you compile it all, so don’t let that rattle you.

    There are — Most of the Features, actually, that I will need to learn at some point. For now, though, I’m happy being able to create separate chapters and scenes without a lot of extra typing. But when I need to learn something, I go and ask about Just That or I rush through the tutorial until it gets to that part. Then I just keep backing it up until it’s clear — or at least less muddy.

    You’re smarter than the program. You Can Do It! Hang in there; you’ll end up loving it. I love what I’ve learned so far, which is only about three or four things. More to learn but not today. And that’s okay.


    • Wow, thanks so much for this pep talk! Really, I appreciate you taking the time to share what you’ve learned so far. I watched the videos before I started messing around with the program and they weren’t too helpful because it was overwhelming. But now that I’ve learned a few things, I think the videos will help more. So I will watch again and keep going back to the source of info as I continue, just as you advise. It’s a good strategy.

      I think I’ll get a “You’re smarter than the program” tattoo. 🙂


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