Anyone who has tried to write a thesis or book in Word will know that it simply doesn’t like long documents. It’s very difficult to navigate your way around, and reorganising your material can be messy and frustrating.
Many people think that they have to use Word and that there is no viable alternative. Wrong! Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool designed specifically for writers. It’s much more than a word processor, offering an environment in which you can manage all aspects of your writing project. You can keep your drafts, research, outlines and synopses all in one place, and then organise your workspace to show exactly what you need.
One of the the key features of Scrivener is its ability to break your writing into smaller pieces, allowing you to easily concentrate on specific sections. With the Corkboard feature you can create virtual index cards with a title and synopsis for each section and then click ‘n’ drag them around ’til you’re happy with the sequence. It’s extremely flexible, so you can make it fit your writing and workflow. As it’s just for writers, there’s none of the bloatware that slows down Word and makes it confusing.
I particularly like the word target feature, as I can set my target for each section of my thesis, and also for the overall project. As I’m typing, a progress bar shows me how I’m doing. The ability to quickly display PDFs, images, and notes alongside my work also speeds up the writing process and keeps everything together. Once I’ve finished, I can export my work as a Word document, a PDF, or even an ebook.
Scrivener was originally available only for Macs, but a Windows version was launched a couple of years ago. Although the developers are hoping to standardise functionality across both platforms, it’s not quite there. However, a recent update has rectified the major issues with the Windows version. I still find using footnotes a little clunky, but that’s a small sacrifice given the other benefits the software offers.
It’s very difficult to describe what Scrivener does, as it’s so unlike anything else on the market. If your interest has been piqued, I’d suggest downloading the trial version and giving it a go. If you like it, it costs just $40/£30 for the full version, and there’s a discount for students. The lengthy manual tells you everything you need to know and there’s plenty of help online.
I really think Scrivener is a boon to writers and researchers. If you decide to try it, please do let me know how you get on.
Find out more in my ebook How to Write Your Thesis with Scrivener