Any reader of this blog will know that I like to compose in Scrivener and, like the name of the company which develops Scrivener Literature and Latte, I love coffee too. The best place to drink coffee is in a coffee shop and a problem with being a writer is a very real threat of becoming an agoraphobic. If you put all of these things together then you end up with a simple problem; I want to use Scrivener in a coffee shop.The iPad version of Scrivener was promised back in 2012 and the basic requirement of writing on a tablet has not been more eagerly awaited since Moses came down from Mount Sinai. I have no doubt that the guys at Literature and Latte are doing all they can to get this out and the worst thing would be to release it before it was ready. Scrivener has set a high standard and disciples of the software would be disappointed if the iPad version wasn’t the same.In the mean time we need to carry on writing and I need to keep drinking coffee. seriously, the problems in my life are just so complex, aren’t they? So, here’s what we can all do about it until the final solution is delivered.
So, you’ve emerged from your MSWord-induced fever dream and discovered the natural wonders of Scrivener. You relish it’s ability to help you process ideas, not just words, and you revel in exploring all that it can do for you. You have character fact sheets at your fingertips. You’ve dropped all your reference notes into your research folder. The inspirational photographs are all in place. You’ve chopped up, reordered, and reorganized your chapters and scenes a hundred different ways. In short, you are rocking your Scrivener existence.
Love it as you do, however, there are still some things that Scrivener won’t do for you. It won’t sync itself across the four computers you use for writing. It won’t facilitate your interactions with editors and beta readers. And it won’t manage the dozens of historical revisions and drafts you produce along your path from empty page to published masterpiece.
And it’s not just you. It’s me, too. And it’s many of the other authors I have spoken too in recent weeks. So in this article, I am setting out to develop a sort of “best practices” guide on how to facilitate an author’s life, with the tools we have at hand today. This won’t be a whiny rant on all the things that can’t yet be done. I’m just going to try to pull together the best advice I can find on how to build a credible creative writing workflow, centered on Scrivener as the main tool, and employing other tools, as necessary.
I’ve been sat like a lemon waiting for Scrivener to come out with an iPad app. This was going to change the world, so I waited. However, it turns out that I was waiting in vain because I can already add/edit my document on the iPad and then just sync it across. Ooh… fancy.
It’s dead easy and if you don’t believe me then just take a look at this from the nice people at Scrivener. (There’s a video at the bottom called Folder Sync) I’m going to run through a very quick step-by-step guide but watch the video if you run in to trouble.
When I was in college the hardest part about writing was trying to keep track of scenes, revisions, digging through folders for the last updated copy of my story, and eventually trying to format everything to the right specifications using Microsoft Word. I think that I spent more time on housekeeping tasks than I actually spent writing. Though for a writer the task of writing should weigh heavier than any other part of the process. It shouldn’t be about getting the margins, line spacing and page count formatted correctly.
Enter the Game Changer
About a year ago after warning numerous tutorial videos I took the plunge and bought Scrivener after a brief trial period. I needed something easy to learn, use, and could export my writing properly. Scrivener did all that and more. I could finally breakdown my story by scene and still keep track of the surrounding pieces without creating page breaks or writing in separate files.
Though I never noticed the power until I started writing on the go for this years NaNoWiMo challenge. I had been writing on my iPad for a few years and liked not having to lug around my macbook with me everywhere. It pays off not having to worry about an extra five pounds when you don’t need it. What I mean is that I started syncing Scrivener with Dropbox (a free online storage service) to access my writing on the go when I wasn’t near my laptop, but had my phone or iPad with me. If I got caught with an idea I could start writing where I left off. A great free app that I used was Plaintext by Hogs Bay Software, which is a simple, you guessed it, plaintext editor for files stored on Dropbox. All I needed was to point Scrivener and Plaintext to the same folder to get both programs talking to each other.
Some people really like writing on an iPad. Many of them love Scrivener. Unfortunately Scrivener ist not available for iOS. Not yet. But it is in developement. Until its release let’s have a look at an alternative sync method to connect Scrivener with an iOS texteditor with the help of Dropbox. Using this combination writers are able to write either on the Mac with Scrivener itself, or on their iPad with the changes immediately showing up after the Dropbox sync.
Yesterday, I spent some time toying with getting Scrivener on my MacBook to sync with Dropbox Elements on my iPad.