If Only Bartleby had known about Scrivener

I’ve been unable to resist the urge to write about a recent discovery that has me buzzing with a healthy level of excitement. From my earliest memory of the personal computer which dates back to 1990 when my father set one up in our attic, my conditioning has been steadily fueled and conditioned by word processors ascribing to a corporate aesthetic that didn’t offer much in the way of creative freedoms that facilitated the writing process. Over twenty years later, having endured a forced marriage to MS Word Version 1 and Version 2, onto Windows Version 6, and then Word 95, 97, 2000, and finally 2003 and 2007, I decided to test the word processing waters for other applications that might better suit the particular nature of my approach to writing after a frustrated night of editing in MS Word 2007. Only being able to open one Word doc at a time, I had been comparing two versions of the same draft by maximizing and minimizing screens, eventually losing any oversight and making changes to the wrong draft.

My research led me to Scrivener that has been available to Mac Users for several years, but released a Linux and Windows version in beta last November. Intended for “writers of all kinds — novelists, journalists, academics, screenwriters, playwrights — who need to refer to various research documents and have access to different organizational tools whilst aiming to create a finished piece of text.” In a laudatory and amusing review in the NY Times, Virginia Heffernan extols: “As its name makes plain, Scrivener takes our side; it roots for the writer and not for the final product — the stubborn Word (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/06/magazine/06wwln-medium-t.html?Ex=1357275600&en=e0f04d9791fe6b3a&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all).” I suggest you participate in the Beta program which could earn you a free version of the software once it officially hits the market, or if your a Mac user to go ahead and get your own full version of Scrivener.

Here are a few scenarios that will convince you to do so:

  • Multiple screens that you can either line up horizontally or vertically allow you to either cross-reference to edit or keep an image or a text you are studying open for you to reference without having to constantly maximize and minimize screens.
  • The research function which you deposit webpages, images, or other digital content that is instantly accessible and can remain open right next to your writing.
  • Facile segmentation of your work by allowing you to create chapters/units with the click of a mouse that you can then in turn keep track of by notating a summary or any other helpful information in the corresponding notecard on the corkboard Full screen writing.

These are only several of the simplest features—the clean layout, the intuitive functions, and its slimness among a host of other features all make it worth trying your hand at scrivening.

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