Scrivener: 10 pros and cons of everyone’s favorite writing software

If you’re a writer and haven’t heard of Scrivener, you’ve most likely been living under a rock. Don’t worry, I was once the same. But the more involved I became in the community, the rumblings got louder and the arguments became more insistent.

Why aren’t you using Scrivener to write your novels?! It’s the best thing EVER.

I can’t tell you how many times I heard it.

First let me explain the gist. Scrivener is a software designed specifically to make the writing process easier, from academic papers and blogs to novels and screenplays. You can store all your research, character profiles, chapters and notes in one easily accessible spot.

Sounds like a dream, right? But I was resistant – mainly just because I am stubborn – and stuck with my tried and true methods (otherwise known as Google Drive).

Me for the last three years:

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Everyone else:

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Eventually, the urge became too strong, and I caved. I was about to start a new project and figured it was the perfect time to experiment a little outside my comfort zone. I downloaded the software, watched a few tutorial videos, read every single one of Well-Storied’s articles and was off to the races. I’ve been using it for a month or two now, and I have enough of an understanding to share my favorite – and least favorite – parts of the program.

Note: I am not sure why I am referring to Scrivener as the dark side… Because in all honesty, it’s pretty much all things good and light. We writers just like to be dramatic. 

PROS

Keep everything in one place. 
When organizing a new project, I used to print everything out and put it in a three-ring binder. Those days area gone! Scrivener’s Binder lets you keep everything you need in one place without lugging a 200 sheets of paper around or having eighteen Google tabs open at once. Plus, your printer will thank you for it.

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My Binder for the new WIP

Save webpages in the Binder too!
No more cluttered favorites list, pasted hyperlinks or transcribed notes. You can save specific sites or pages directly into Scrivener. I’ve done this with each character’s MBTI from 16Personalities.Com, and it’s worked brilliantly.

Visualize your outline with the virtual corkboard.
It literally looks like a corkboard with little index cards for each scene or chapter, and they are easy to move around, add or delete.

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Don’t judge my messy and vague outline.

Enjoy the two easy to use templates included with the software.
Free templates are the best, and Scrivener supplies one for character and setting. You adjust as needed and can also upload your own and then replicate for each unique need.

See two documents side-by-side in one app.
The toggle split feature means you can have a chapter pulled up to work on and the corresponding research/character/image right there too. It makes descriptions and fact-checking a breeze.

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I can describe Julian within the text while looking at a picture for reference!

Compile chapters into one pretty document with the click of a button.
I don’t know about you, but copying and pasting each chapter into a single Word document AND making sure it’s formatted correctly is a beating. With the compile function, Scrivener can make it perfect – either to print, as a PDF or into many acceptable ebook forms if your plan is to self-publish.

Set writing goals and track your progress.
Recycle that spreadsheet saved on your desktop where you manually record your daily word counts. Scrivener does it for you! Using your writing history, you can better set goals for each writing session and keep track of how much is left!

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Use your average session to help you set your goals!

Test it out with a 30 day free trial!
So if you aren’t quite sure, you can play with it a bit before purchasing. Plus Scrivener doesn’t deduct from the trial if you don’t open the app that day. Pretty sweet, right?

CONS

There’s one hell of a learning curve.
With any technology – from iPhones to Excel – I know I am not using it to its full capabilities. With Scrivener, there is A LOT to learn. All of it is really cool and helpful, but it took me a good 2 hours just to learn the basics. The rest, I may or may not ever use.

You have to manually enable spelling and grammar checks.
I got about 20K words into my draft before I realized this. I had just thought I was awesome at English until I enabled it and realized I suck. It’s easy to turn on and off but make sure you do that at the beginning if you like to fix as you go.

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Me waiting for spell check to kick in…

It freezes sometimes and takes a while to backup.
Scrivener is a simple software, and it’s easy to tell that the same goes for the development side as well. Sometimes the program will continuously freeze while I am typing (frustrating as I only have small periods in which to write) but it usually stops after a restart. It also takes a while to close and open due to the massive amounts of data it’s backing up.

You can’t easily go back and forth between PC and Mac.
This probably isn’t a huge issue for most people, but it’s a pretty big one for me. My computer at home is a Mac, and my work laptop is a PC. And there’s a separate Scrivener software for each. Occasionally I will write at work (shh don’t tell my boss), but now I am stuck without any of my materials or drafts. There is a workaround to this – buying both versions of the software and using Dropbox to sync between the two (similar to how it works between Mac and iPhone). But that isn’t super convenient, and my company doesn’t allow us to use Dropbox on our work computers. Plus, I have heard the Windows version of Scrivener has some issues.

But no writing software is perfect, and as you can see, the pros of Scrivener far outweigh the cons.

So go… download the free trial! If only to experiment. But I have a feeling you will fall in love too.

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10 thoughts on “Scrivener: 10 pros and cons of everyone’s favorite writing software

  1. Sara Jane says:

    Love this! I am a HUGE Scrivener advocate. I will say that’s you should check out the snapshot feature. It’s one of the BEST features.

    Write a chapter, snapshot. Edit or rewrite said chapter and compare with the snapshot of the previous version! Or even just roll back to the old version with the click of a button! And of course you can switch between snapshots no problem.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Annika Perry says:

    I’m a huge fan apart from the syncing issue! The drop box works mostly, other times it will not sync and that scares me! It’s a clumsy method so I’m back to working just on my Mac! Lots of great points and off to put on spellcheck and check out snapshot! Great feature!

    Liked by 1 person

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