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Why I Write my Books in Scrivener

Scrivener is one of the best things I’ve done for myself in 2016. If you were already following me earlier this year, when I was knee-deep in the formatting ofΒ Rise of the Sparrows, you may remember my love/hate relationship (mostly hate) with OpenOffice and my steady decent into madness.

I wanted to purchase Word but couldn’t afford it, so I turned to Scrivener which came with a free trial and was a bargain when I purchased it!

Scrivener has made writing my novels so. much. easier!

Please note: This post uses affiliate links. If you’re tempted to try Scrivener, won’t you consider buying it through one of the links in this post? It’s no extra hassle to you <3 (in fact, it’s easier since you’re already here!)

Buying Scrivener was one of the best things I did for myself in 2016. Find out which features make writing my WIPs super easy! (did I mention there's a free trial?)

At the time, Scrivener popped up across my feeds rather a lot. It looked too good to be true and the trial was free, so I figured Why not?

Now, I know I’m not using Scrivener to its full potential. There are so many awesome things you can do with this program and I’m really only using the basics – but the basics I adore!

Take a look at my favourite features:

A supporting banner for the post on Scrivener introducing full screen mode.

A screenshot of Scrivener's full screen mode, a customised black background and grey font.

Scrivener’s full screen mode gets rid of all distractions. You’re left with your draft and nothing but your draft – even that small task bar at the bottom disappears unless you hover over it.

If you get distracted easily by social media then this is the tool for you! Don’t worry if grey on black doesn’t work for you. You can customise full screen mode (and just about every other aspect) to suit you.

A supporting banner for the post on Scrivener introducing the programs word count targetsA screenshot of Scrivener's manuscript and session word count target trackers.

This is one of my favourite features. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the progress bar turn from red to orange to green!

You can set your overall word count goal for the whole draft, or you can set individual session word counts which you can adjust every day, or even while you write*.

*if you feel like cheating… Go ahead, I don’t judge. We’ve all done it.

A supporting banner for the post on Scrivener introducing the name generator.

A screenshot of Scrivener's name generator, showing ten example names and an overview of the many options.

I don’t use Scrivener’s name generator that often, but it includes some intriguing options such as Ancient Sumarian or Hawaiian. You might not want to spend a lot of time naming a character if it’s just for a quick writing exercise, so this is great for quick suggestions.

And where else would you get Ancient Amazonian names from? Scrivener’s got you covered!

A supporting banner for the post on Scrivener introducing autosaves.

Accidentally closed your WIP without saving first? Don’t worry, Scrivener’s got your back.

Every time you close the program, Scrivener does an automatic backup first so even if you did close your manuscript by accident, you wouldn’t lose anything.

I wouldn’t rely on it, though. It’s never not worked for me, but I’m a paranoid girl and I’m used to saving before I close anything.

A supporting banner for the post on Scrivener introducing eBook conversion.

I haven’t tried this myself, but I bet quite a few of you just looked up! Scrivener can save your file as a .mobi, .ePub, and loads of other formats.

When I uploaded the .pdf of Rise of the Sparrows to KDP, the conversion happened automatically. However, you don’tΒ get a copy, and many reviewers will ask for something other than a .pdf.

A supporting banner for the post on Scrivener introducing the cork board.

A screenshot of Scrivener's cork board with one index card.

I adore Scrivener’s corkboard, especially because it looks like the real thing. It allows you to plan every chapter, and it’s easy to refer back to remind yourself of what needs to happen next.

You can also open the relevant note next to your chapter in full screen mode, so you have your notes right there without needing to leave your chapter.

I use it to plan all of my chapters in advance to avoid getting stuck. If you’re doing NaNo you’ll know that not getting stuck is vital to NaNo success!

A supporting banner for the post on Scrivener introducing its many customisation options.

A screenshot of Scrivener's customisation window.

Scrivener allows you to customise just about every part of it, so you can really make it look the way you want.

Remember what I mentioned when I talked about full screen mode? If you don’t want to write black on white (the standard), you don’t have to. If a pink background with green writing is more your thing*, then you can adjust it.

I’ve set mine to a black background with dark grey writing. This makes a nice change and allows me to see my draft a little differently, too.

Remember the cork board? If the cork board look isn’t doing it for you, you can change it to a couple of other textures or one colour. You can even change the index card edges from pointy to rounded, and the colours!

You can make Scrivener look the way you want, and I’m in love with the options it gives you.

*and doesn’t burn your eyes

Did I mention the best part?

There’s a free trial version you can download, which gives you 30 days of actual use (rather than one month, meaning you can totally stretch those 30 days over a year if you wanted!) before you need to make up your mind. If you’d prefer to try it first, you can get the free trial here πŸ™‚

Or, if I’ve convinced you, you can buy it here:

Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular Licence)
Β Windows
Buy Scrivener 3 for macOS (Regular Licence)


Words of warning: If you’re like me, you’ll have several backups of your WIP. I had the original files on my memory stick, but eventually moved the main file to my desktop for one simple reason: Loading it and saving it from my memory stick was slow. Maddeningly, insanely slow.

So, if Scrivener looks like it might be for you, learn from my mistake and use memory sticks only for backups. Keep your main file on your desktop, or else you’ll feel like pulling your hair out. Writing and editing a novel is hard enough as it is, you don’t need to make it worse for yourself.

If I’ve tempted you and you’re wondering about giving the free trial a shot (I’ve mentioned it’s free, haven’t I? It’s free!), you can download itΒ here.

Do you use Scrivener, or do you need a bit more convincing? What are your favourite features? Make a tea, take a break, and talk to me! πŸ™‚

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Published inA Writer's Musings


  1. WOW! This looks like an amazing application, AWESOME! I’ll have to check this out, thanks for sharing…

    • It really is, I hope you enjoy it as much as I am! πŸ™‚ The free trial runs over non-consecutive days, so you can try it for 30 days of your choice, not 30 days after downloading the trial πŸ™‚

      • Yes, I’ve used my 30 days trial for almost three months now <30 non-consecutive days). Just remember to shut down program before midnight, or you'll accrue a new day.

  2. It does wound awesome. If I hadn’t purches Liquid Story Binder first, I’d have probably ende dup with Scrivener.
    Though I have to say I’m very happy with LSB too. It is very similar, though not as powerful as Scrivener, and it helped me a lot. I heard sometimes writers discuss whether it is worth it or not to purchase a writer’s program. My answer: by all means it is!

    • I’d look into it if I wasn’t so in love with Scrivener! I’ll definitely keep it in mind, in case I ever need a backup plan πŸ˜‰

  3. I got Scrivener this year too and it’s actually incredible. I don’t think I have the name generator option though. Is yours the Mac version?

    • No, mine’s the Windows version πŸ™‚ No Macs in this house! πŸ˜› It’s a little hidden but you can find it under Tools -> Writing Tools -> and then it’s the bottom option πŸ™‚

  4. tiziao tiziao

    Hi Sarina, Scrivener i my first choice for all writing:
    – Technical book with some image
    – marketing letter & blog post
    Scapple is wonderful tool for organizing content from Literature and Latte


    • I haven’t used it for my blog posts but I know a lot of bloggers do! πŸ™‚
      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Thanks for sharing the love for Scrivener! I just can’t imagine my writing life without it now (I’ve been using Scrivener for more 5 years, I think).

    I’d like to add a couple points to your overview, though:

    – With backups, and especially when you’re a paranoid girl :), you can set Scrivener up so that it would save your backups to Dropbox or any other cloud folder. This way, you wouldn’t lose anything, even if your hard drive failed suddenly or you dropped your laptop into the bathtub. I actually have a quick guide on how to set up Scrivener backups to automatically be stored in Dropbox here: http://playingwriter.com/prepare-your-scrivener-for-nanowrimo/

    – There’s one more great feature of Scrivener, it’s a mobile iOS app released this summer. Many of us Scrivener lovers have been waiting for this to happen for more than 3 years. And it was worth it because Scrivener for iOS is great! If you still didn’t have the chance to check it out for yourself, I again have a detailed review here (with screenshots and a video):


    It would be great to get a feedback from you!

    Keep up the great blog and good luck with your Scrivener endeavors!

    • I did see that there’s an app but I don’t believe it’s out for androids? πŸ™‚ I’d get it in a heart beat, otherwise!
      I’ll have to look at saving backups to Dropbox, thanks for pointing that out πŸ™‚

      Thanks for stopping by! Happy writing, Alex!

      • Literature and Latte (the developers of Scrivener) stated that they will be working on Android version, but no ETA was given. So keep waiting and hoping as we, iOS users, have been. πŸ™‚

  6. Sarina, thank you so much for giving She’s Novel a shout out. You’re the best!

    • My pleasure, Kristen! You’ve got such a wonderful blog, I love browsing on it <3

  7. I love using Scrivener, Sarina! It has been a godsend for so long and I just discovered the magic of creating my ebook with it! I think I would swear by this program!
    Great post on it πŸ™‚

    • I do, too. Unless they make some huge, fundamental changes I can’t see myself using another program for writing again πŸ™‚

  8. I really do need to get some time to look at this in more detail. My first book was done through Kindle Direct and I needed help, lol. I should check this Scivener application in a little more detail.

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      I recommend you try the free trial. It runs for 30 non-consecutive days, so there’s no pressure to use it right away, and it’ll give you better insight than any blog post πŸ™‚

  9. Great article!

    I’ve been happily using Scrivener for I-don’t-know-how-many yearsβ€”both for fiction and blog articles. I have to say that perhaps my favourite features are the View Modes and Snapshots. View modes like Scrivenings and the Corkboard allow me to view my story as a continuous text or as a synopsis of said text, and snapshots let me stop worrying about every little editβ€”because I can always just revert to a previous snapshot of the document.

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      I haven’t tried either, but I know many writers rely on them. I tend to edit my books in Word, so those two have gone unloved so far πŸ™‚ I do love the corkboard!

  10. Great article! I’ve been using Scrivener for years and I love it!

    • Just realized I already commented when I read this last year. XD

      • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

        Haha, no worries! I’m glad it’s still a good article XD I published a new one yesterday about why Scrivener might be right for you (as opposed to why it’s right for me). It’s linked on my front page if you’re interested in reading something new πŸ™‚

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      It’s the best, I don’t know what I’d do without it!

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