Much of my day job requires me to slave over a hot keyboard. If I’m not working on code, then I’m working on one of a dozen or so writing projects. While there’s no shortage of writing tools for the Mac, there is a shortage of good writing project tools.
A few years ago I settled on Scrivener, a writing app designed by writers (and not a committee of writers– that would be disastrous).
What I wanted was an elegant and efficient way to write without be bogged down by menus and options, yet I needed a way to manage the guts and components of writing projects; reviews, research, project ideas, notes, etc.
Scrivener features a built-in, distraction free, but mostly normal looking word processor. That’s where the writing takes place.
Beyond that, Scrivener is more of a project management toolset complete with the all important index-card-pinned-to-cork-board visual metaphor. But that’s not the extent of the tools.
Scrivener gives you options to work on multiple documents for a single writing project. It’s like editing different sections of a manuscript yet all the components belong to the original project.
The cork board makes it a drop dead simple process to organize your ideas and notes. And, of course, there’s a built-in outliner so you can create and modify the project’s structure with a few clicks.
For specific requirements, there’s a scriptwriting component in Scrivener which exports the finished content to commercial scriptwriting apps, including the popular Final Draft.
Longer projects can take advantage of Snapshops, a tool which lets you edit or rewrite without worrying about destroying previous edits.
There’s also an option to sync text with other apps for Mac, iPhone, and iPad, but what I’d like to see is an easier way to manage Scrivener’s whole project Mac to Mac using iCloud or Dropbox.
The Scrivener site has many instructional videos and tutorials so you can see all it can do. But Scrivener is a complex beast.
The writing portion is straightforward and won’t distract your efforts to create, but the project management components require discipline to learn and incorporate into your personal writing efforts.
Thanks to all the components, Scrivener is more of a writing platform than a project management app for writers. It has both Mac and Windows PC versions. It’s simple enough at a basic level to get you up and writing within minutes, but it’s sufficiently robust with capability that it can manage complicated research projects with ease.
Once you’ve used Scrivener for more complex writing, you won’t want to use anything with fewer features.