Wednesday, March 12, 2014

To Scrivener or Not to Scrivener

About a year and a half ago, I bought my first Mac, and the first program I installed was Scrivener. Three friends (Amstr, Rachael, and Cleared for Flight) had raved about the program, and, being mid-stream in my PhD thesis, I figured I needed all the help I could get.

I spent last spring drafting a thesis chapter on Scrivener, and I recognized the benefits. Multiple times, I moved sections around, changing my mind about the order of the different sections. Scrivener made it easy to make those changes.

But now, for the past 10 months, I've been working on the same damn chapter, and I've had a terrible time. Although I don't want to blame Scrivener (or my use of it) for all of my woes and ineptitudes, I am throwing a little blame its way.

Here's the problem as I'm starting to understand it: Scrivener breaks my chapters up into chunks or subtopics, and, therefore, I tend to only think of the chapter in chunks or subtopics. As a result, I've had a harder time identifying the central argument of the chapter--the thread that will hold it all together.

This past weekend, the family gave me a one-night hotel pass, so I had many uninterrupted hours of work. This, in itself, was gloriously helpful, but I think what really led to a breakthrough was when I got out of Scrivener and started working in Word, when I started thinking about the chapter (and reading the chapter) as a unified thing. Granted, I had compiled my Scrivener files into Word plenty of times before, but then I kept going back into Scrivener to attempt further progress.

My conclusion? I need to write in Word. But this does not mean Scrivener won't be helpful. This weekend when I was writing in Word, I was mining from my Scrivener files, and I discovered how Scrivener might best work for me: it should be a holding and organizing place for my notes and research.

Maybe this is how everyone else is already using Scrivener. Maybe I was just doing it wrong from the get go. But I'm glad to have clarity as I move forward. As for actually writing up my chapters in Scrivener? I prefer not to.

1 comment:

fangsandclause said...

I love Scrivener! But sometimes I cut and paste my work in Word and then cut and paste back.