I am new to Scrivener. But I am enjoying the flexibility and structure that I used to achieve with cork boards, notebooks, spreadsheets, and post-its. And never this well! Scrivener is jam packed with features that I won’t go into here. If you want to learn more about features, there are many instructional youtube videos. Go and enjoy!
For me the feature that really sells Scrivener is the ability to write anywhere and sync my work. For example, on my lunch hour, I can edit a scene on my office computer. Later while waiting in line at the grocery store, I can add some dialogue with my iPhone. Finally at home that evening, I can jump on my personal laptop and pick up right where I left off. Scrivener makes this simple. I am a “don’t quit your day job” writer and work a lot of overtime. I need to be able to eke out content when and where I can.
I am one of those wacky people who use Windows for my computing needs but have an iPhone. I received an iPhone many moons ago as a work phone, and I’ve never been able to kick the habit. All of my instructions and illustrations here are based on this dynamic: Windows PC and iPhone iOS. However, the logic is the same if you are a Mac and iPhone person. You may also use an iPad.
Before I explain my process in Scrivener, I first need to talk about the cloud-based drives that make writing everywhere possible. I use both Amazon Drive and DropBox in tandem. My current work – when Scrivener is open – occurs in DropBox. When I close Scrivener, it automatically saves a backup to Amazon Drive. I’ll show below how to set this all up. Read on!
First visit DropBox. Download and install. I use the free plan, as I only keep my working files in DropBox, and they are relatively small. In the DropBox folder, create a folder called Apps/Scrivener. It will look something like the below in the online DropBox menu.
A similar folder will also sync to the desktop DropBox folder.
Next, create a subfolder in DropBox called Apps/Scrivener/Scratchpad. It should look something like this.
Next visit Amazon Drive. Download and install. I am an Amazon Prime subscriber and pay for Amazon Cloud Drive Storage. I have taken the Amazon pill and use them as my backup service. (Not to mention my grocery store, pharmacy, library, movie theater, and radio station, but that’s a post for another day!) It is also ok to use any other backup system. Just be sure to make it redundant. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. For the Amazon Drive, there is no mandatory naming convention for Scrivener files. I simply call my folder Scrivener/Backup. Here is what it looks like in my desktop Amazon Drive folder.
Once the cloud-based folders are setup, Scrivener for PC or Mac needs to be installed. Also, the Scrivener App for iOS must be installed on iPhone or iPad. Sorry Android users! I don’t believe there is an Android app yet. But I’m sure one is coming soon. Can’t wait? To get Scrivener in your pocket now, pick up a cheap Apple iPod Touch for under $200.
Tip! When the Scrivener software is first downloaded, it may not be the latest version. This was true for me. Amazon was not carrying the most up-to-date version. The latest version is required in order to be able to sync files between devices. After registering the Scrivener software, go to HELP > CHECK FOR UPDATES on the menu. Download the latest version of the software and install. Once complete, open each Scrivener project in the new version to refresh. It only takes a moment.
Now open an existing project in Scrivener on the computer by finding it in the DropBox folder. Find the Tools > Options menu which looks like this. In the GENERAL pane, set your Scratchpad and Notes location to your DropBox folder at Apps/Scrivener/Scratchpad as shown.
Now, jump down to the BACKUP pane. Change your backup location to your Amazon Drive Scrivener/Backup folder as shown.
Repeat the above Scrivener software steps on all the desktop or laptop computers where you’ll be writing. Make sure Scrivener‘s options are pointing toward the appropriate DropBox and Amazon Drive folders on each device. I have Scrivener installed at my office and on my home laptop. I am the sole user, and multiple installs are allowed and encouraged by Scrivener‘s licensing agreement. As I work on each device – closing and saving when complete – my work will sync with my cloud drives.
Close all programs. We are done with the computer settings. It’s now time to talk about writing on-the-go with an iPhone or iPad. Locate the Scrivener App for iOS. Purchase and install.
The app will ask for DropBox credentials on first open. Add them and sync. This may take a while if there are many projects. When complete, the app will look like this. All the projects in the DropBox folder appear in the app.
Clicking on any project leads to the familiar Scrivener App version of the Binder. Follow the manuscript path to access the editor. If the text is too small to work with – tired eyes! – pinch zoom. All of changes will be saved.
When done writing on iPhone or iPad, return to the main screen in Scrivener App. Click on the sync button immediately to the left of Scrivener in the title bar. The next time a project is opened on the computer, all the changes made on iPhone will be there.
I’ve done it all: index cards, cork boards, journals, spreadsheets, google docs, etc. All of these organization, outlining, and writing tools are great. But they aren’t as great as Scrivener. In addition to doing all these things on steroids and in one place, Scrivener allows me to stop worrying about juggling details and focus on my writing. And using the desktop software with the iOS app, I can write anywhere and everywhere. Give it a try!