048: Why We Love Scrivener & Why You Should Too
January 18, 2017

To Scrivener or not to Scrivener. That’s a question many writers still ask themselves. While Microsoft Word has its place in the writing process (mostly in collaborating with editors and proofreaders), I have found Scrivener to be the best option for writers who really want to manage their workflow better and create their ebooks from the same interface.

This week, Kayla and I talk about how we use Scrivener and how you can take advantage of this fantastic writing software. Here are some of the ways we use it:

Formatting E-books

Format your manuscripts and articles to mobi, epub, Word, PDF and more with a few keystrokes. This is why Kayla originally downloaded the program.

Writing in Scrivener

  • I uses it as an everything Writing Work Bench. I have all of my projects in one file, but organized by binder.
  • Kayla loves being able to organize chapters and scenes. With Scrivener you can go right to them without scrolling and scrolling. If you decide to move a scene, all you have to do is grab it in the toolbar and drag it to its new location. No cutting and pasting and then trying to get the pages to line up again.
  • Scrivener makes it easy to set word count goals and keep track of them. It tracks by day and overall word count. You can even set a deadline and Scrivener will keep you on track to finish in time.
  • Some people need a minimalist writing screen with nothing but blank space. Scrivener has that option, but Kayla uses the traditional one as she likes to be able to see her chapter/scene lineup on the left and her inspector on the right. It also lets her get to the comments feature (She accidentally called it “sticky note” in the podcast. What can she say, it works like a sticky note and the little yellow square fooled her!) easily, which she uses a lot.
  • Comments lets her drop quick notes to herself as she’s writing so she doesn’t interrupt her flow. A couple of examples would be going back and researching something further or checking a timeline.
  • She also mentioned the Inspector, which allows you to write summaries of the scene or chapter you’re working on. At a glance, you know if you’re in the right spot. It also helps you identify sections when you are in the pin board/cork board view.
  • Templates for any kind of writing project from novels to screenplays.

Importing and Exporting—It’s Never Too Late to Make the Switch

  • While Scrivener is an amazing tool for creating and organizing your writing, not everyone can work in it, or you may have old project you’d like to have in the Scrivener ecosystem. This is where importing and exporting comes in.
  • Scrivener doesn’t have a great track changes feature for working with your editor. So Kayla exports manuscripts to Word then puts them in Dropbox so her editor can work her magic. After she’s gone through and made her changes, Kayla imports the manuscript back into Scrivener for formatting.
  • It’s a good idea to drag your pre-edited manuscript down into the Research area for safe keeping, just in case the unthinkable happens to the new file. Store the new, edited version in the working area above Research.
  • Some platforms require you submit your work in a Word document, so there’s another reason to be able to easily export.


  • Place your book covers in the Research section to make sure you have access to them when it comes time to compile and format your book.
  • You can add webpages from external links, photos, videos, and audio. Just create a new document in the Research panel and then File > Import>Files.
  • Scrivener also has the capability to bring your research and notes over from Evernote!
    • You can send a note over as a PDF by choosing File > Print > Send to Scrivener. It will show up as Untitled in your research folder.
    • You can copy it in as a web page. Chose Share >Copy Public Link. Then in Scrivener, click File > Import > Web Pages.
    • You can make it a Reference. View > Inspect>References. When the Reference panel shows up, add the link.

Mobile Scrivener

Kayla hasn’t been thrilled with it. The complicated saving procedure required to make sure it links up with your computer creates extra files, so she worries she’s going to get a hold of the wrong one. She also doesn’t do a ton of writing on her phone. She’s more of a quick note taker and does the heavy lifting on her laptop. That said, I know a screenwriter who loves the mobile Scrivener app for the iPad.

Scrivener Learning Curve

Many shy away from Scrivener because it can be daunting to learn. Kayla fumbled through for a while, then discovered the Learn Scrivener Fast course. This program is step-by-step videos on setting up and getting started, plus more advanced/ninja tips and tricks. There’s even a section on using Scrivener for your blog. Just login and pick the lesson you want to watch. They’re brief and easy to follow. The course is a little spendy, but there are three levels to choose from with varying prices.

I have done all of my training at YouTube University. I’ve also seen some Scrivener courses on Udemy.com, and recently purchased my first one for advanced training.

Getting Scrivener

Scrivener is very affordable at $45. They also have a free 30 Day Trial (only ticks a day off when you open the program). Click here to check it out.

The So What?

If you really want to boost production, get Scrivener. The trial affords you a chance to take the Ferrari for spin before you purchase it. I can almost guarantee that you will buy it. It’s one of those programs that will change your writing life.

If you have a question specifically for me about how I use Scrivener as a nonfiction writer, leave a comment. You can reach Kayla at kayla@kayladawnthomas.com, or on Twitter at kayladawnwrites, if you want to learn more about how Scrivener works with the fiction writer’s workflow.

Episode Sponsor

This episode of The Art & Business of Writing is sponsored by Jamie Raintree. Be sure to check out this great writing tool that will help you stay on track with all of your writing project goals.


About author

Chris Jones

I'm a writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach. I help you use words to create influence. Let's talk!

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