I’m going to go against the grain a little today – I love Scrivner, but it’s a giant waste of time for the average writer.
Believe me. It’s pretty and I want it. I’ve coveted Scrivener since my first round of writing courses with Holly Lisle back in 2008. As soon as I saw the Windows Update Mailing List, I was on it and patiently waiting for Scrivener to release for the PC. I even contemplated buying a MacBook Pro (and I’m so very anti-Apple) when it took too long for Scrivener to release for PC. I read tons of blog posts, tutorials, and how-to guides with the hopes that I’d be ready to use it right out of the gates.
Yes. I was a Scrivener stalker.
Finally, the day came that it was out for the PC. I downloaded the trial with the intentions of buying it as soon as the trial wore out.
And then I proceeded to never open it again.
The Essense of Distraction
As writers, we tend to get a little, well, squirrel. We’re walking along, walking along – SHINY! GO THAT WAY! – er, wait, walking along, walking along…
It doesn’t matter if it’s a new notebook (by the way, I’m loving my new hardback college ruled composition book from Mead – it’s perfect for writing on the bus! – aaaand I think that just proved my point…), a new idea, a new contest, a prompt, a meme… the list goes on. We go squirrel over the need to do dishes, do the laundry, or watch TV during writing time. We get intimidated by the blank page, and we try to read email or update Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest/etc. instead.
(For the count, I’ve tried to read Twitter four times in less than 400 words. WEE.)
So, the idea behind all this is that we love to do something other than write. That’s where being motivated and disciplined comes in for the average writer. Or, at least the published one – hint, hint.
Why I’m Picking on Scrivener
You don’t need a fancy program to write. You don’t need to spend $40. It isn’t going to help you write better. You want to argue that it might help your production speed (after you spend time to learn it), your organization (but that doesn’t help if you over-organize or hate plotting), and help your focus (but again, after you learn to use it). But it only distracts you from writing.
Scrivener has many pretty, wonderful features. I fan-girl over them every time I see someone talk about it. I rush over to their website and stare at the pretty “Buy Now” button.
And then I talk myself back off the cliff.
I’ve got everything I need to write on my computer right now; I don’t need something else.
But Dahnya, I hate Word!
That’s fine. I hate Word too.
I mean, I use it every day. All day. My day job focuses almost 95% of my time on Word. I’ve grown to hate that helpful little ribbon…
But I don’t use Word to write. I use Notepad.
Yep. That’s right folks. I’m admitting that I get my best word counts, my best flow, and my best distraction-free writing by using a full-screened Notepad document.
It doesn’t have any fancy features. I don’t get any squiggly lines telling me that something like NaNoWriMo is spelled wrong (when I know it isn’t.) There’s no formatting, no paperclip popping up asking me if I’m writing a novel. I don’t have anything other than a white page and black text.
Call me a minimalist if you’re scared of the idea that the free Notepad program could possibly be better than Scrivener. That’s fine. But Notepad will always be the source of my inspiration and will always help me write the best.
(cough) Nothing to see here folks.