Whenever I discover what I call a game-changer, I tell you about it. Hootsuite was a game-changer for my Twitter strategy. Google Reader was a game-changer for keeping up with the more than 200 blogs I read regularly. Your Life as Story was a game-changer for how to tell my tale of backpacking solo through Africa. Chris Guillebeau’s book was a game-changer for how to build the life I want to live.
You get the idea.
Today I’m bringing you my game-changer for writing books: Scrivener. Not writing books as in coming up with ideas or how to tell the story, but literally piecing a book together. Which is, to be honest, how I approach book-writing at this point; I write a million little pieces, then focus on stringing them all together. Sort of like how I write an article: I do all the reporting, collect all my research and quotes, then piece together a story. Finishing that kind of puzzle always gives me such a sense of satisfaction.
Writers had told me about Scrivener, but I never felt like I needed an organizational tool, so I didn’t bother with it. Except the two projects I’m working on right now — the first, what I hope will be my second book, about how to take a career break to travel, and the second, an ebook you’ll see launched sooner rather than later on this site — are even more piecemeal than my memoir. I could see the value in using some sort of organization system that’s more sophisticated than Microsoft Word and Google Docs, so I gave Scrivener a whirl.
On a Friday night, I might add. In my world, trying out new digital tools qualifies as fun on a Friday night.
And kaboom, it’s awesome. After watching a 10-minute tutorial video, I knew enough to make Scrivener work for me. I quickly imported my Word documents, separated them into files, and now I can easily rearrange them any way I like. It makes it easier for me to envision my work in little chunks, which I appreciate because, well, little chunks are more manageable than big chunks. It can be overwhelming sometimes to tell myself to go home and work on my ebook, but going home to write just one chunk is totally doable.
I imagine there are all sorts of features I don’t know how to use yet, and still I’m satisfied enough to pay Scrivener’s $40 fee when my 30-day free trial is up.
Oh, and while Scrivener used to be available only for Mac, you can now get it for Windows. That’s what I’m using.
Do you use Scrivener? If so, what’s your favorite feature?