Shannon Stacey

Why I’ve reluctantly forsaken Scrivener

One of the first things I did when I went Mac in January was download the free trial of Scrivener. This was followed shortly thereafter by the full purchase.

Scrivener is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Especially if, like me, you write out of order. I’m not going to give a big run-down on the program because it’s all at their website, but being able to drag and drop scenes or pieces of scenes into the right order was a lifesaver. Being able to “see” the story’s progression in the form of index cards was invaluable. And then there was the ability to save your links and research materials and photos in that book’s “binder”.

When it was time, I simply exported the book into one RTF file (after a great deal of frustration with not being able to fix the formatting when I exported as a doc file) and tweaked it into form for submitting.

Why, then, have I returned to Word and forsaken the program I swear I’d spent half my life waiting for?

Mobility. In Scrivener, your book isn’t a file. It’s a group of many, many files, which I don’t think would be an issue if I worked on my Macbook and only my Macbook. But I don’t.

I came late to the wonders of Dropbox, but now I’m not sure how I ever lived with out it. Syncing documents and changes across all my computers/devices is a time and sanity saver. No more wondering which computer has the most current draft.

I do most of my writing on the Macbook, but not all. If the Short Kid has a friend over or if he’s watching something I can’t look away from (damn that Disney Channel and its constant episodes of Hannah Montana, The Wizards of Waverly Place and Suite Life on Deck), I’ll go work on the desktop computer, which is a PC.

Or, before we head out to an appointment or a restaurant, I’ll open the Documents to Go app real quick on the iPod Touch so it will sync the most current version. (The Touch has to sync via wi-fi, since it’s not the iPhone.) While I’m out, I might write new stuff into the doc, or I might read through what I’ve written, correcting typos and such along the way. When I get home, or find a hotspot, I’ll sync the docs and the versions on the desktop and Macbook are magically replaced with the current.

Basically, I had to choose between the awesomeness that is Scrivener and the ability to pick up my book and work on it anyplace and anytime. While I’m still mourning having to leave Scrivener behind, mobility won.

2 comments to “Why I’ve reluctantly forsaken Scrivener”

  1. Shannon
      · August 3rd, 2010 at 1:46 pm · Link

    It’s pretty easy. Once it’s set up, each of your computers has a file called “Dropbox”. You put your book in it and it uploads to Dropbox. Then you work for a couple hours. When you save it, it uploads the new version to Dropbox. Then, when you open the netbook (once it boots up), it’ll download the current version to your netbook’s Dropbox folder. Like magic. (As long as there’s a net connection, of course. If your netbook is net-free away from your home network, you need to get in the habit of turning it on and letting it sync before leaving the house.)

    I usually get a little comment bubble. For instance, when I save on the Macbook, after a minute or so, I’ll see a comment bubble on the PC desktop that says “Book X updated” or something like that.

    I love it.

  2. Anna Louise Lucia
      · August 3rd, 2010 at 12:55 pm · Link

    I’ll check this out properly later, but you may have saved my life. Having XP netbook and Vista laptop does not for happy network sharing make….

    I use MS OneNote to roganise all plannings/researchings. Drag and drop photos, notes, annotate by hand, screen dump wep pages, leave audio notes, embed vids and organise as tabbed folders/files. Bliss.

    THANK you for the Dropbox heads up. :-)

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