We’ve had a good run, but it’s time to say goodbye. I never used you as an actual writing program; I merely copied what I’d written in other programs and apps and pasted them in to you. So I was only using you as a place to store all my writings.
My first mistake was configuring you to use Dropbox. I wanted to be able to access you across all my devices. But that created a problem: when I launched you, Dropbox had to sync before you would open. And when I’ve got an idea for an article or story, 2 minutes is too long to wait.
So I deleted you from my laptop, after deciding that I’m never going to own a Macintosh, desktop or otherwise.
Instead, I’ve moved all of my files into Evernote.
Because I can install it on all 3 of my devices—laptop, iPhone, and iPad—and it will synchronize across all 3 of them.
Because I can fine-tune my settings to a degree that Scrivener never approached.
Because it has a smaller footprint, loads faster, and in general just does a better job of what I want it to do.
Because even if I leave my devices at home, I can access it on the web via the nearest computer.
Still, it Hurts
It hurts because Scrivener has been a good friend for the past couple of years. And like any other friend, it hurts to say goodbye.
But nothing lasts forever, right? Just as we outgrow certain friends, so it is with computer applications. And I’ve simply outgrown Scrivener.
QUESTION: What’s the difference between an app and a program? ANSWER: There isn’t any. Software publishers decided that “app” sounded sexier than “computer program,” and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history.
Every now and then I reevaluate the apps and programs I’ve been using to write. The perfect suite would be one that I could use on all of my devices: my iPad and iPhone running (as of this writing) iOS 11, and my laptop PC running Windows. Add into that mix the fact that when my wife and I write something together, she’s on her iPad Pro and writing with Apple’s Pages.
For her, it’s easy: whatever she writes will sync automagically across all of her devices. For me, it’s another story.
The Previous Solution
It was something I cobbled together, based on the fact that Pages wasn’t available on my PC—which is where I do the bulk of my writing and editing. Since Pages will export to MS Word format, and LibreOffice will read and write MS Office files, it was a simple matter of Stacey exporting her efforts in .docx format and sending them as attachments in emails. I could then either edit them and send them back to her, or append them to the master document.
All of this was before the Cloud. After the Cloud, we used DropBox and iCloud instead of emails.
The Better Solution
Recent changes to Pages have made things even easier: I can now log into my iCloud account via my Windows browser, and use the on-line version of Pages to write and edit! My edits are saved, and both Stacey and I have access to them no matter which device we’re on.
It’s a Fact of Life
You’d think that after using computers since the early ‘80s, and having worked as both an educator and a service engineer, I would have learned my lesson: go big! But no. Which means that when it came time for me to make the jump from an Android phone to my new iPhone 6s Plus, I’d have maxed out the options. Nope. Just the basic 16 Gb memory.
Which means that I rely on the Cloud even more than before. Still, the iPhone X is almost here, but $1000 is a lot of money to spend. Would I be better off keeping what I have now and upgrade my iPad Mini to an iPad Pro? If I did that, I might not even need to use my laptop for writing anymore.
Sorry about the delay between blog updates; I’ve been busy writing.
That doesn’t make sense does it? Well, if you read my previous post about 750Words, it should start to clear up. 750Words has been a boon to my novel and story writing, albeit at the expense of blogging. I’ve been so obsessed with getting my daily writing done on 750Words that it’s completely driven blogging out of my mind.
But I hope today’s entry will make up for my sins.
In an earlier post I mentioned Scrivener. I also promised a more in-depth review of the program.
Scrivener bills itself as “[A] powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.”
Yeah, the standard product mumbo-jumbo. But behind all of the verbiage there is an excellent product, and I urge you to check it out for yourself. I’m not going to give a complete rundown on its features and uses; the website does an excellent job of that.
What I am going to do, however, is show you one way I’m using it: as a document warehouse.
I’ve created a project for 750Words. In the project, I’ve got several folders. There’s one for this year, and inside that folder, there’s one for each month.
Each month’s folder has one document for each day. And each day’s document contains that day’s entry on 750Words. Once I’ve written each entry on 750Words I simply copy and paste it into the 750Words project in Scrivener.
I’ve also got a separate project for my novel. This one is ordered by chapters. That’s one of the great things about Scrivener: it’s adaptable to just about any method you want. I’ve also got a separate project for short stories.
Scrivener can store everything I need for any given project: text, PDF files, graphics, flowcharts—you name it, Scrivener can handle it.
Yes, it’s got a huge learning curve, but if you’re like me and just start using it, you’ll find that learning it as you go isn’t that difficult. Besides, I’ve always been one to ignore the instructions and manuals: if I don’t know what a given program can’t do, I won’t find myself restricted by silly rules.
That’s pretty much been my approach to life: if I don’t know how to do something, I won’t be held back by what the “experts” say about it.
So give Scrivener a try. It’s available for both Mac OS and Windows, and you can download an evaluation copy to try for a month.
And so we come to the end of the year. Traditionally this has been a time for reflecting on the past year. It’s also been a time for making all kinds of resolutions for the coming year, resolutions which generally last until we sober up sometime in the afternoon on New Year’s Day.
For me, though, it’s a time of looking forward, although I suppose that in a way, that’s what resolutions are all about. Except I’m not making any. I’ve already quit smoking, and I don’t drink, so what else is there?
No, instead, I’m changing the way I blog. Or, to be more exact, I’m changing the way I organize and manage my blog posts.
Windows Live Writer is my blog editor of choice. With it, I can create new entries and see pretty much how they’re going to look before I post them. I can even retrieve previously-published posts. More importantly, I can use it to manage several different blogs. This is important because I maintain a few blogs, each dealing with separate topics.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t do a very good job of organizing my posts on disk. All of my drafts are saved to the same folder, which Live Writer conveniently calls My Weblog Posts. SO while I have a copy of what I’ve posted, it doesn’t let me know where I’ve posted. And I do need to know where I’ve posted what, so I don’t inadvertently duplicate myself on one of my blogs.
Enter Scrivener. I plan a much longer article on the software, but for now I’d like to share with you how I’ve started using it as my main blogging tool.
Scrivener is organized around projects. A project can be anything you want it to be: a novel, a poem, a screenplay, a short story. In this case, I chose the blank template when I started. After some thought, I created folders for each blog, and within each of those folders, another folder for the year. Eventually, I’ll add month folders inside each year.
Here’s how it looks:
As you can see, this entry is named Final Post and is in the December folder, which is in the 2014 folder, which is inside the V&J folder. Just like those nesting Russian dolls! Simple enough so far, right?
Besides being an excellent organizational tool, Scrivener is also perfect for writing. And as you can see from the graphic above, I’m using it for this article. What I like best about it is when I’m on the writing screen, there are no distractions. And unlike other editors, I can control what my background is when I’m writing. I can choose either a color or an image, or I can even set the writing screen width so that there is no background at all: just a plain white screen without even a menu bar.
Once I’ve written an article, I can copy & paste it into Live Writer and upload it from there. Or I can copy & paste it directly into the blog itself. Finally, I can copy it into any of the other blog folders. But that’s not really necessary, as it takes up disk space. Instead, I can make use of Scrivener’s corkboard feature and simply make a note in the other blogs of the title of the entry and the date I posted it. That way I’ll still have a record of what I’ve done, but it won’t take up much disk space. Which is also important, because Scrivener makes a backup copy of your project whenever you close it. The default is 5 backup copies, but this (like most options in the program) can be changed.
So if you’re just getting started in blogging, or if you’ve been doing it for a while and are looking for an excellent way to get or stay organized, you could do a lot worse than Scrivener as your blogging tool.