The Great (?) Scrivener Experiment

Friends of mine know that I’m a lover of technology, especially when it has the potential to keep me better organized and make certain tasks easier. For example, I’ve become an avid user of digital solutions in archival research because they can make your work more meaningful and useful down the road. A friend’s recent request on Facebook for information about software to aid in an ongoing research/writing project got me thinking about my next project … and that led me (again) to Scrivener.

I flirted with Scrivener long ago, first after reading about it on ProfHacker and then after a friend mentioned using it for his dissertation. “Flirt” may be an overstatement — really, I glanced across the room and proceeded on without any sustained engagement. Last week, however, I decided to download the app and really give it a fair shake by running through its extensive tutorial. I’m very glad I took a shot at it.

Scrivener seems great because it can keep all of your research, outlines, drafts, notes, fragments, and whatever else you want, all bundled up in one place where you can easily access individual documents, use tags, search efficiently, and more. Basically, it’s a one-stop-shop for the early-stage work that goes into a book project and the drafting process. It certainly has its idiosyncrasies (e.g., you have to “compile” text and export it in order to finalize your documents for submission); but I’m interested and convinced enough that I’ve decided to start my next book project — tentatively titled Possession: Crafting Americanity in Congressional Discourse about Puerto Rico — using this app and see where it takes me.

At present, my toolkit will be centered on Scrivener. I also plan to keep using Sente for citation management, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for photographs, and will probably fall back on Microsoft Word or Apple Pages for final manuscript prep (although I’m entertaining Nisus Writer Pro and Mellel for that task).

If you have experience using Scrivener for a large project or even have a different workflow that you want to share, please feel free to comment below.