My Scrivener Update

I promised an update on my switch from manual story-boarding to the oh-so-organized Scrivener.  I started my new project on the new software two weeks ago.  And got absolutely nowhere with it.

My lack of progress was only partly due to the software, which has excellent capabilities but felt very cumbersome to me.

Corkboard was awesome. I love the way it interacts with the document.  My story-board and desk are always a complete mess by the time hit the middle of a book. Unfortunately, corkboard was the only thing I liked about Scrivener. Maybe it was the PC version, but the software was annoyingly laggy on both my desktop and my brand new laptop.  I’d type a sentence, but the words wouldn’t appear on the screen for a second or two.  This drove me crazy.

Next, I assumed that sticking the basics wouldn’t involve much of a learning curve, and that only advanced features would be difficult. I was wrong. Doing any sort of formatting was overly complicated.  I’d need to take a course or buy a book and devote several weeks to learning how to use the program. Keep in mind that I’m a geek. I alter the CSS stylesheet of my WordPress website. The formatting difficulties made my document appear messy. This also drove me nuts. Yes, I realize I sound very, uhm, particular, but I like to look at a tidy document. I like a certain font. I like to know exactly how many pages I’ve written, etc. What can I say. I am what I am.

OK, now here’s the weirdest thing. Frankly, I missed my color-coded note cards. I missed scribbling on them. I missed pinning them up on my story-board. The electronic experience just wasn’t the same as shuffling through the cards manually or moving them around on the wall board. Maybe it’s the tactile experience or the movement involved, but the virtual corkboard didn’t prompt my brain activity the same way.

All in all, during the first two weeks of working on my newest book, I wrote very little. Since switching back to my sloppy and seemingly chaotic but actually very organized system, I’ve roughly outlined the first three chapters, from inciting incident to first turning point. I’ve also identified the mid-point and defined much of the resolution. (The book’s climax was always clear.)

So, I know many, many people who LOVE Scrivener, but it’s not for me. I’m back to scribbling on index cards and appreciating them more than ever.

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2 responses to “My Scrivener Update

  1. I think it’s great that you tried something new and determined it didn’t work for you and came to appreciate your usual process more. Nothing wrong with that! And it can stimulate your creative brain, too. The more we “get” about our processes, the better we are as writers, I think.

    I also always appreciate hearing a well-described negative experience. I don’t know why, but I’m usually suspicious when all I hear is good stuff. LOL Your less-than-great experience somehow validates them.

    I still haven’t tried the Scrivener sitting on my hard drive. I haven’t had time! I’m a very linear writer, so it remains to be seen if the features will help me at all.

  2. Good luck with it, Natalie.
    It just didn’t work out for me. I’m bizarrely attached to my index cards.

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