When I was in college the hardest part about writing was trying to keep track of scenes, revisions, digging through folders for the last updated copy of my story, and eventually trying to format everything to the right specifications using Microsoft Word. I think that I spent more time on housekeeping tasks than I actually spent writing. Though for a writer the task of writing should weigh heavier than any other part of the process. It shouldn’t be about getting the margins, line spacing and page count formatted correctly.
Enter the Game Changer
About a year ago after warning numerous tutorial videos I took the plunge and bought Scrivener after a brief trial period. I needed something easy to learn, use, and could export my writing properly. Scrivener did all that and more. I could finally breakdown my story by scene and still keep track of the surrounding pieces without creating page breaks or writing in separate files.
Though I never noticed the power until I started writing on the go for this years NaNoWiMo challenge. I had been writing on my iPad for a few years and liked not having to lug around my macbook with me everywhere. It pays off not having to worry about an extra five pounds when you don’t need it. What I mean is that I started syncing Scrivener with Dropbox (a free online storage service) to access my writing on the go when I wasn’t near my laptop, but had my phone or iPad with me. If I got caught with an idea I could start writing where I left off. A great free app that I used was Plaintext by Hogs Bay Software, which is a simple, you guessed it, plaintext editor for files stored on Dropbox. All I needed was to point Scrivener and Plaintext to the same folder to get both programs talking to each other.
The process goes something like this. I set up my new book in Scrivener, organized and structured the chapters that made sense and started writing. I generally use a template format for each of my new projects, which makes it easier to start since I add a few more pieces that are not included in the default Scrivener novel template that comes pre-installed. When I leave for work or to wander around the city I’ll quickly sync Scrivener with Dropbox grab my phone and go. I can read through a new section while I’m outgo see if I want to rewrite it or if I get inspired on a new section. Most writers may not find a phone keyboard to be all that useful, however, I’ve written entire blog posts or chapters on my phone while waiting some places. Where best to write than waiting for a dentist appointment or while waiting for your coffee at a local barista. An idea can happen anywhere so why wait until you’re home.
Now when I eventually get home I can fire up my MacBook, open Scrivener and start rewriting what I wrote while I was out. All my new writing is synced automatically from Dropbox and imported into the proper place in my novel. I tested this feature at length before I started using it for serious writing.l and would recommend that anyone new to Scrivener, Dropbox and Plaintext do the same to become familiar with the process. Though I can say from experience that it has been a huge success in helping get my book nearly halfway finished.