Winter Special: 31 Days of Scrivener Plus 5 Skype Sessions

January is a busy month chez moi. I usually have several projects going on, but February is much slower and that gives me more time to work on my Scrivener workbooks. It also gives me the opportunity to open an impromptu 31 Days of Scrivener PLUS 5 Private Skype Sessions.

Here’s the deal…these tutorials usually go for $200.00. Yes, it’s pricey, but given my ahem expertise and the time it takes me to write these lessons, $200 is a bargain.

I realize, though, for many readers it’s not affordable. After all, many of us write for a living and the income earning potential isn’t that great (now you know why I teach these tutorials on the side).

As a 2016 Winter Special, 31 Days of Scrivener plus 5 Skype sessions will be offered for $50. How does it work? You get the following:

1. A daily PDF lesson emailed to you.

2. One weekly Skype session to answer questions on that week’s lessons.

3. You automatically become a member of the Simply Scrivener Facebook community where you can interact with other students and ask questions and share tips.

4. A few perks here and there, like icons to pretty up your binder and backgrounds for Composition Mode.

To sign up, email me at Registration starts tomorrow and ends on January 29, 2016. After January 29th, the price goes up to $200. NO EXCEPTIONS.


Binder Actions and a Question

I’ve covered a lot of territory in these tutorials and yet I always discover a feature I’ve never used, and once I play around with it, I think, “You idiot, this is exactly what you needed in September, but you didn’t realize it even existed.”

So today while I perused the features in the menu, I came across “Hoist Binder.” The only term I know that uses hoist in a sentence is when Hamlet realizes that Claudius plan to dispatch him and says the following:

There’s letters seal’d, and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust as I will adders fang’d—
They bear the mandate, they must sweep my way
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;
For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petard, an’t shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon.
Hamlet Act 3, scene 4

Hoist Binder doesn’t fall in that deadly category. Instead, it’s an incredibly useful feature especially when you have a Binder with numerous folders, sub-folders, and documents. To wit:

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As you can see, I have all my freelance writing folders and although I can unexpand the folders what I really want to do is to isolate one section of those files. Let’s take a brick and mortar scenario as an example. Say I have the inbox on my desk filled with 20 manila folders, and I need to work on just one file. I take the appropriate one out and work with those documents within that folder.

To work with that one container/folder and not have to even see the other folders in the Binder including the Research container and Trash Bin, what you do is select the folder you want to work with and go to Documents->Hoist Binder and it brings forward just that folder.

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Does it work with text files? Yes, as long as you have a sub-document. To unhoist and see the entire contents of the Binder, go back to Documents and select Unhoist Binder.


In March, I will be launching a downloadable PDF workbook. The first one will be for Windows users. The Mac version should be available by the end of April. The format is based on the Adobe Classroom in a Book series. The workbook will consist of 31 lessons; each lesson can be completed in one day. Price: $4.99, which includes a 30 minutes private Skype session to answer any questions that might come up as you progress through the lessons.

Later in the summer, I plan to launch another series of workbooks. The first one will be on Compiling for both Windows and Mac versions. Price: $3.99 with 30 minutes private Skype session.

And now for my question. What other workbooks would you like to see in this series? To respond, please email, send me a DM on Twitter either @SchillerRebeca or @SimplyScrivener, or leave a comment below. I look forward to reading your suggestions.

Easy Peasy Printing

I have a confession: I’m not a huge fan of printing out my documents. When I need to print an article, I take an easy shortcut instead of going through the compile process.

But before I show you how I go about printing, first let me say that what I write and print are formatted simply. I don’t get fancy because I don’t have any intention of self-publishing. I just want my one-inch margins and my quarter inch indent, and that’s it.

Let’s say I wrote an article to submit to my editor. As mentioned, the formatting is simple. What stands out is that I have the following:






These are bolded, and that’s as fancy as I get. So my article is written, and I need to print it to proof it the old fashioned way. To print it, I go to File->Print Current Document. A window opens, and this is what I see:

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I can go ahead and hit print, and that’s that.

Let’s assume I make my edits, input them back into Scrivener and I want to send the final version as a PDF to my editor (typically you should never do that because if your editor wants to make changes, he or she has to convert the PDF to a Word document and that can mess up the formatting. As a rule of thumb, make life easy for your editor if you want more writing assignments). But for the sake of this example, we’ll send it to him as a PDF).

Go back to File->Print Current File. Click on the drop-down menu where you see PDF, and you’ll see the option Mail PDF. And, sirree, bub, it goes directly to you Mail app as an attachment.

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Now let’s take a look at File->Page Setup. A window will open, and you will see that I have my page setup defaulting to my printer and US Letter.

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But what if I want to change those attributes? Click on it and the dropdown menu has the Scrivener option. From there you can change your margins.

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Click on options and you’re presented with a menu of print options.

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I like to have the page numbers printed, so I have that option checked. As you can see, you also have the option to print the synopsis, meta-data, and notes. Don’t like your current font? You can change it.

And that’s the easy way to print your current document without having to go through the compile process.

See, Hear and Speak No Distractions


Now that our big day of cooking and eating is over, I’m back at slinging words, and because I have so much work ahead of me including book reviews, reports to write, drafting newsletters and interviews questions for a six article series coming in January, I need the power of distraction-free writing.

During my university days, I had this tendency to find the quietest and most isolated corner in the library so I could study. I avoided any spots with windows, or near the elevator. I was lucky that there were a few places where there was one table and chair among the stacks that had little foot traffic. That’s where I’d go to study a week before a big exam would hit.

Later in graduate school, I was able to use the Graduate Reading Room for quiet studying. This area was like a large living room with a few sofas and armchairs. It was verboten to speak. I used to go there quite often, but I still found it too distracting with all the other students and ended up watching them and not paying much attention to my reading or notes.

But apart from those comfy sofas and chairs, there were what I called the confessional booths. These were built-in closets that you could lock; inside was a built-in desk with a lamp. It was sound-proof and offered the ideal distraction-free environment to read and write. They were so popular that a sign-up sheet was posted, and from what I recall, you were limited to two hours of study time.

The only time I’ve been able to duplicate anything like the confessional booth was when I had an office with no windows.  Unfortunately, I had a phone with an intercom and would be interrupted by phone calls.

Now that I work from home, the distractions are worse than when I worked in an office. The number  one distractions: a beagle with a voracious appetite who is always baying for more food, and a Jack Russell terrier who is always getting into mischief. However, once they’ve settled down, the house is relatively quiet.

When the husband is out running his errands or working on his writing projects this is when I can sit down and somewhat create my “enclosed” booth with a series of apps. Today’s Simply Scrivener post goes beyond what Scrivener offers. I’d like to show you how I use other apps with Scrivener that provides a distraction-free environment.

1. Scrivener’s composition mode: I’ve written about how to access and set up composition mode. If you need a refresher take a peek at the Composition Mode tutorial. After playing around with it for so long with different backgrounds to inspire me, I finally settled with the default settings: a black background and a white page. I have the page centered, and I use Bookerly font at 14 points. I also have the text scale set at 110 percent.  That’s all.

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2. If I have a full day of writing that includes numerous projects, I like to allot time to each project. I’ve become a big fan of the Pomodoro method. There are several apps that you can download, but I bought Pomodoro One via the App Store for $1.99. What I do is set each project for no more than 60 minutes with 15-minute breaks in between. During those breaks, I refill my coffee or tea; stretch; take the beagle and terrier out for a quick pee and so on.
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3. I recently discovered Spotify has an Intense Studying or Focus channel, so I  plug in my padded headphones and listen to classical music. There is a caveat, users can add songs, and I’ve noticed that one, in particular, likes more abstract instrumental music, which I find plain annoying. Because of that, I’ve started to use Banzai Labs app that’s available via the App Store for the iPhone and iPad.

The science behind the app is that it uses Binaural Brainwaves Entrainment to stimulate brainwave frequencies associated with different states of mind. You can read more about on the site’s home page.

4. SelfControl app and turning off the Wi-Fi connection. I am addicted to Facebook. I belong to numerous writing communities, and because I live in a remote area in upstate New York, I tend to socialize with many writer friends on Facebook. I’ve wasted entire days reading through threads, responding to comments, or getting wound up in the too many dramas that take place in social media. How do I avoid it? I use SelfControl that locks me out of Facebook, Twitter, or email for a set amount of time. I usually set it for eight hours. Another option is to turn off your Wifi connection when you know that you don’t need to be checking email or flipping back and forth to research something on the web.

5. The To Do list. I like writing to-do lists and find them helpful. Online I use WorkFlowy, but I also like to handwrite my tasks for the day in my planner and cross out each one out when I’ve completed a task.


I tend to be somewhat ambitious and list ten things I need to do for the day, but I’ve learned to prioritize better and can keep it down to a minimum of three to five tasks.

Regarding planners, I was late in the game last year and didn’t order one until February. When it arrived in March, I used it for a few weeks and then abandoned it. Earlier this month, I ordered the Passion Planner, which will be here just in time for the new year.


6. Will Power. None of these apps will work if you don’t use them. Get in the habit of dedicating a time to write and work. Block out the distractions to be more productive. Do this for a few weeks, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised that you formed a habit that’s productive.

7. Top choice. These are all my favorite apps, but if I had to keep only one—you can guess what I’ll say, after all, this is Simply Scrivener—I would never give up Scrivener. Why? Review all the tutorials provided and you’ll understand why I love it so much.

So, my parting words are turn that internal will power switch, use these apps or others that have similar capabilities, and as I say in my Simply Scrivener tweets #getwriting.

Pretty Little Icons Sittin’ in a Row

I have a confession: when I get stuck on my WIP, I inspire myself and kill time (okay, procrastinate) by changing the folders in my project into pretty little icons.

If you’ve been following Simply Scrivener for a bit you know I like my visuals.Today, I thought I would show you how you can add icons and switch those boring folders into something with more panache. Below is my binder for Julius (remember to click on it to enlarge it). Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 11.14.35 AM

You see I’ve added several new icons. I found these via image searches on Google, templates from other writers, the Literature and Latte forum, and via Here’s what I did” I changed the Draft folder into an inbox and renamed it Draft for Julius. In that inbox is a bound stack of paper. I’ve broken out the three-act novel using Alexandra Sokoloff’s structure and have each act represented by a Mead Composition Notebook, which I found via Google. Next, I broke down the acts into sequences represented by a  Scrivener colored notebook icon that corresponds to the Mead Composition Book. In each of those notebook containers, I have my text files.

You might wonder why I broke down each act by a different color, and there’s a simple answer. So I won’t get confused should  I accidentally move a folder and I find my conclusion somewhere in the middle of the grid.

In the research section, I got a little more creative:

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 11.56.50 AM

I changed the notebook icon into a file cabinet. Then I chose a pretty pink Mead Composition notebook for Prep work, which is broken down into more icons. Premise is a Scrivener blue notebook; fleshing out ideas is Scrivener’s thought bubble tinted blue. Themes is a red Scrivener notebook, as is Conflict, but in yellow. I found a compass and map to replace Scrivener’s map icon, and I used a more detailed mask for characters. For templates, I figured an open file would work.

My timeline is a graphic of a timeline. Unwanted scenes were changed into Scrivener’s clapboard. Visuals, which is my freeform corkboard is a hatbox (the thought behind that was when I actually had an old hatbox and dumped photos in it). For the Lincoln Brigade, I chose the purple Mead composition book. For story structure, I have two formats: I used Scrivener’s icon for Structure for Three Act Novel, which is further broken down. For the Sokoloff method, which I wrote about in the Stacked Corkboard tutorial (and what I showed above) I used a film strip. Lastly, Sample Output is a monitor and Body Language I used the Anonymous mask.

How did I import these icons into Scrivener?  Go to the action menu (the gear wheel) at the foot of the binder and select Change Icon. From there, scroll all the way down until you reach Manage Icons. A window will open:

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You’ll want to add your icons in Icons in Project Package. Hit the plus sign. A window will open and select where you’ve saved your icons. Hit Okay.

From there, select the folder you want to change and scroll down until you find the icon you want and select that. Your folder will change automatically to its new look.

What’s the difference between Project Support and Application Support? Essentially, if you add all your icons to Application Support, you won’t have to manually add each icon for each new project.

A couple of items to note: When you import these icons, Scrivener will automatically resize them to 32×32. I try to download images on the large side, so I don’t lose details. I also like .tiff files better than jpg or png files because I think—I might be wrong on this—the detail is sharper.

Pretty nifty, eh? What’s even niftier is that I’ve uploaded my folder of icons that you can download (I hope it works) and make your binder razzle-dazzle.

Icons for Scrivener For Download.

A New Look

I’m late in the game about Scrivener’s recent update, but as you can see the Mac version (Scrivener 2.7) has a new look. The icons reflect Apple’s design and this new look makes it compatible with Yosemite and El Capitan.

What’s my opinion? Overall, I don’t dislike it. I tend to like a minimal design and it’s cleaner looking.

The one question I’ve been getting, though, is the corkboard background has changed to a whiteboard. Personally, I love it. To give it that more whiteboard effect, I’ve changed the font style of my index cards.

As you can guess, today’s tutorial focuses on the look of the corkboard and how to customize it to suit your aesthetics. For the illustrated examples, I’m using The World-Building Leviathan template, which you can find on Belinda Crawford’s website to download. Let me add that if you’re participating in NANOWRIMO in the next two days, this is a terrific template to use because it’s very comprehensive. I’ll be participating this year with the intention to finish draft 853 and I’ve borrowed several elements from it.

So, here’s what the corkboard looks like when I selected the Story Bible container (click the image to get a larger view):

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Notice that my background is white, I’ve selected the cards that “stick” to the whiteboard and I’ve changed the font. The icons are part of the template. I didn’t touch those at all. What if I want the more conventional corkboard look AND I want to use the new San Francisco font that is now Apple’s new system font? Let’s first change the corkboard’s background. Go to Scrivener at the menu bar, Select Preferences->Corkboard. A window will open:

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Go to Corkboard background and click on the expansion arrow. Select Corkboard pattern and voila, you know have the classic corkboard.Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 10.09.26 AM

If you want to change the “sticky” index cards into pinned ones, go back into Preferences->Corkboard and change the Index card theme from rounded to either red and black or blue and black. You can change the position
of the pin to the right if you don’t like it centered.

Not crazy about the default typeface and you want that clean San Francisco font? Go to GitHub and follow their directions to upload it. Or maybe you want the new Kindle font, Bookerly. To upload that go to Reddit Kindle and follow their instructions.

Once you have your fonts downloaded, go back to Preferences->Corkboard. Go to Fonts and change Index cards title and index cards text.

My new corkboard now looks like this with Bookerly:

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Because I am a fan of the minimal look, I’ll switch it back to the “whiteboard” with sticky notes and use the San Fransico typeface.

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I like this so much I think I’ll stick with it for a while.