I got Scrivener as a birthday present last year, and up until this week I’d been using it to work on a couple of novels. The workflow suits my note-taking style: I jot things down wherever I can, whenever I’m thinking of it, and then have to assemble the pieces when I have a bigger chunk of time to do so. As I’ve gotten used to Scrivener, gotten into the habit of collecting my various bits of writing this way, I’ve expanded how I use it. First, I started putting together a new short story collection (though I’m still writing the stories in a separate text document and copying them over). Today, I started porting my notes over from a nonfiction project I’ve been kinda sorta working on the the last two years.
I mean that in the sense that I maybe worked on it a few days a month, but enough that over time I’ve got a good idea in my head of the book’s structure, contents, and style. I know this book. I know the point of it. I know how to write it. All that’s left is the research to back up what I’m saying. Well, and a lot of writing things down.
It turns out, there’s less of that to do than I thought. Once I got everything imported into Scrivener, I discovered my disparate notes actually make up a solid framework. If I can find the time to devote to more research, I think I can have a complete draft done in a few months.
What’s great about writing nonfiction in Scrivener? In addition to the ease of simply writing out of order, as you think of whatever you’re writing that day, I like:
- Using the split screen, or a QuickReference panel, to keep a separate file open to compile a glossary as I write.
- References! Citations! Keeping track of every title I used for research! It’s a bit complex to set up, but this is a great explanation.
I also found some links that might help you if you’re writing any flavor of nonfiction with Scrivener:
- Scrivener tips from Hacking the Thesis at OSU
- Tuesday Tool Tip: Using Scrivener for Complex Academic Writing Projects from Personal Knowledge Management for Academia & Librarians
- Daniel Vreeman talks about using a combination of Scrivener and Zotero to write his scientific papers.
- Setting Up a Thesis Structure using Scrivener Template from Sarina Kilham at Qualitative Research
- Workarounds for using the split screen in Composition mode.
- Turning off HUD style so your qr panels can be minimized instead of closed.
- Scrivener’s own Knowledge Base is searchable and helpful for solving problems.