I have been trialling Scrivener for a while now and initially I thought it was going to be a bit of a bells and whistles distraction from the routine task of writing.

I was wrong. And as my partner will confirm it is not often I admit to that!

This is an incredible piece of software (AND CHEAP!) to help the organisationally challenged or  complete boneheads like me who can never remember what they called their latest draft or where they filed it! I once lost an entire masters thesis because it saved tot he download file!

By following the online video tutorials I have manged to create a fabulous resource project for the latest section of my thesis. I am able to flick through papers, ebooks, other drafts, notes, web clippings, images, video files, all whilst keeping my main document visible on the screen. I can split the screen in two so I can C&P from other drafts into the main piece of writing – it has been something of a revelation. This feature also means I can ensure quotes from other sources are copied accurately from their source, without the usual typographical errors imposed by my inept fingers!

Snap Shots: I can also save snapshots of my work for future reference. If you don’t like what you have written and want to do a complete rewrite, it can be unnerving to delete a massive chuck of work, just in case your rewrite doesn’t pan out. Yes you can cut to clipboard but I have found this to be an unreliable and erratic feature of Word. With Scrivener you simply take a snap shot of your current work, which is then stored,  and then start again. If it turns out, as it often does, that you preferred the original version (or version 12 or a combination of versions 16 and 23) and you want to revert back you can do so by simply by opening up the relevant snapshot. It is like clipboard with knobs on!

Corkboard - your project at a glance with action 'stamps' -
Split Screen - compare and edit two docs simultaneouslyReasearch materials immediately accessible from sidebar - no need to leave writing to access material. It has a fabulous labelling system that allows you to see, at a glance, what needs to be done, what's been done and what you need to think about.

I am sure there are many reviews of this product out there – I first saw it mentioned on the guru of academic blogging The Thesis Whisperer and thought I would give it a go.

Free Trial: Another big plus for me was the free trial. Unlike many free trials which expire after 30 days, this one offers you 30 ‘real’ days … if you don’t open it on any given day the clock stops ticking. You get to use the programme for 30 whole days – even if they are not consecutive. This means you can learn to use the programme without feeling pressured.

Video Tutorials: It provides you with several helpful video tutorials to get you started and the forum at Literature and Latte are there to help if you need extra support.

Of all the online tools I have downloaded this has to be the first I have thought ‘yes, that I can use’!

Now all I have to do is find a referencing and bibliography programme that is affordable and easy to use (Endnote – do you hear me?) I could be some time!

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3 thoughts on “Scrivener

  1. I was also quite intrigued by this programme and did have a peep into it but at the time I didn’t really have the time to spend trying to get my head around it. I thought it looked a bit complicated. I would be really interested to hear of software that you do rely on / or that you find in your search.

    Jacqueline

  2. I downloaded this last week, (I too follow Thesis Whisperer). I have read through the first part of the tutorial, but until I start writing ‘properly’ again, I am not sure it’s right for me – yet. It does seem a marvellous piece of software though. I did however download the mindmap programme you posted about on to my laptop (MS not MAC) and that has been extremely useful. It helped me formulate a conference proposal that I’ve been told is in with a strong chance of being chosen.

    1. That’s really great feedback! Glad you found it useful. I love the one on my iPad as its very interactive though not as swish as the computer one.
      I am loving Scrivener and I think it’s one of those programmes that like mind mapping really lends itself to the thinking process.

      I have two gripes with it just now – very slow to close (the backup feature seems to take forever) and a couple of files I have imported are ‘upside down; they read form the last page to the first and I can’t work out why as everything else has imported fine. Bloody odd!

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