Monthly Archives: November 2015

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:

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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.