Scrivener: How I Taught Myself To Use It

The first time I heard about Scrivener was through Joanna Penn, an author whose blogs about self-publishing and making a living as a writer are extremely useful. If you want to know more about her work, visit her website. Her blog posts do not disappoint. That is how I came across Scrivener. Most author blogs I follow all sing its praises, so I decided to buy it. Someone who was very important to me gifted me with this writing software, and I am forever grateful for that. The problem was… I did not know how to use the damn thing.

After I downloaded it, installed it, I realized there was this long-ass tutorial. I hate reading instructions, I break out in hives. No, I do not, but I really hate reading manuals. The Scrivener manual is like a novelette I do not want to read… AT ALL. I really wanted to use it, so I said to myself, ‘Girl, you can do this. Come on! You can do it!’

… And then, I scrolled down the Scrivener tutorial, skimming 99.9% of the document. ‘Fuck this shit, there is no fucking way I am fucking reading this crap. Fuck it!’

The person gifted me with it because they wanted to be supportive of my dream and chosen career path. So, when I returned home July 2019, I opened the program up again, and started clicking on stuff to see what happens.

Guess what I learned to do today? How to a manuscript and add chapters!!!!!

It might not be a big deal to some, but it is to me! Although I like technology and the advantages it gives us, I hate learning how to use it. That is why I do not own any fancy gadgets. Seriously, the only fancy gadget-thingy I own is my iPhone. Any other gadget that starts with i or has an apple on it, I do not own and I do not plan to buy any of them in the foreseeable future.

It is safe to say I will never have Alexa in my house, for I believe that Alexa will kill us one day. Just watch I, Robot and Ex Machina, okay? There are two things I believe in: The (Human) Killer and The AI Killer. First, it was fucking Siri telling KILLERS how to dispose of bodies, next Alexa will tell your blender to chop your hand off for accidentally dropping the TV remote.

Okay, back to the topic at hand: Scrivener! I taught myself how to make a manuscript and add chapters!

At first, I thought I had to name the chapters Chapter One, Chapter Two, and so forth. But when you add new chapters, it automatically arranges them in chronological order when you click on the Manuscript button. Then you see the chapters on the corkboard. It is just amazing!

This is a screenshot of an example

This picture is an example of the corkboard and the chapters I added. It is amazing. It is not a real project I am working on, I tested it out. But it is great that you can read what the chapters are about before opening them. You can also drag and drop them to change the order of the chapters. It is so amazing. I just love the notecards.

The editor pane is pretty straightforward, it is the same as that of any word processing app or what-have-you. What are some other things I came across? I feel so smart 🙂 🙂 🙂

Scrivener screenshot

When you start writing, you can click on the i in the upper right corner, then there is this whole other menu of buttons and options. You can write a synopsis for the chapter, so you do not get sidetracked. This can come in handy for me, for I struggle with this regularly. The best thing about it is that you can keep it open while you write. So when you lose track of your thoughts, just read the synopsis… or not… and let the characters tell you what to do and where to go.

Pantsing is much more fun. Stephen King also recommends it. Not that he is the authority when it comes to pantsing and plotting… I mean… just read The Tommyknockers. Point made. BUT! He IS an awesome writer (if you like 400,000-word books, then yes). Back to the writing software now…

Guess what else it has? COLORS!

Apparently, some writers like to color-code their chapters. I am not sure if this will be something for me, but I will try it and see what happens. But I think it is awesome you can do this. I do use those text highlighters when plotting novels/novellas (and I end up pantsing the entire story… sigh). I like to write longhand when outlining, not on the computer. It is easier to correct or add more info when I write in notebooks. AND… I also love my unique handwriting. If you see it, you will love it, too. 🙂

I think I will use Scrivener to rewrite the second draft of my novella, the one for the local writing competition.

It will be best to rewrite the novella using this software. That is what it is for and I should use it and see what the outcome is. What will my manuscript look like once I finish it and export it to Words?

This is one more thing I wanted to share… You can update the status of chapters!

You can set a status for each chapter you are writing. As per the photo, you can choose between No Status, To Do, First Draft, Revised Draft, Final Draft, Title Page, Done. NICE! 🙂

I am pretty excited to find out more about it and will write posts. Maybe I can help a fellow writer.

Joanna Penn wrote about switching from Scrivener to Vellum, but that is only for Mac. I MIGHT switch to Mac just to try out Vellum and see if it IS indeed better than Scrivener. Joanna mentioned she had some issues with the Look Inside option on Amazon, the lining and spacing were all wrong. Vellum is better, she says. Well, I will master Scrivener first, then I will conquer Vellum afterward.


Tiara Ray

I am grateful & blessed to have the life I live. (Soon to be) Traditionally published & self-published author in her mid-thirties. I unsuccessfully tried changing this picture numerous times, so I just left it. I wish you lots of love & may you get what you need. <3

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