The Story Behind the Tutorials

I remember reading about Scrivener on the Internet Writing Workshop’s writing list, and truth be told, I didn’t pay much attention to it because I had purchased another writing software specifically for novel writing. It turned out to be so complicated that I abandoned it and went back to using Word.

I don’t solely write fiction. I write marketing collateral, web copy, book reviews, articles, and blog posts. At the time, the version I had of Word was functional and not as bloated, but what killed me was all the related writing that went with one project. The endless drafts and revisions, and the research. Suffice it to say that with each new document or revision the files kept multiplying and multiplying and multiplying…

You might be raising an eyebrow thinking that my admin skills are not great. You’re right, they’re not. I don’t know how many times I ended up emailing the wrong draft of an article or chapter because of my terrible filing system. What I needed was a virtual three-ring binder or even a file cabinet where I could find every document in one spot without having to open every single file in my documents folder.

And then there was the question of writing a novel (those who read my blog know all my woes, trials and tribulations about the WIP) and keeping that organized. However, in the fall of 2010, my writing life changed when a writer friend on Facebook showed off her scenes via the corkboard feature in a photograph.

Corkboard image courtesy of

I was jealous. I wanted and needed this program. Unfortunately, it was only for Macs and at that time I had an HP laptop. I tried to find a comparable program, but none matched Scrivener’s features or oomph. And so, in a fit of frustration, I visited the Scrivener Facebook page with the intention to plead with the folks at Literature and Latte to design a Windows version. Much to my surprise, in a status update, it was announced that there would be a Windows beta version just in time for NANOWRIMO.

Well, I was overcome with joy. When the time came to download that baby I was first in line, and that’s when I thought I could write a tutorial for the WinScriv version. I liked the windows version, but I confess I was a tad envious of all those Mac users whose version boasted more advanced features.

But something serendipitous happened during the spring 2011: my HP laptop was nearing the end of its life—just a mere 18 months after I purchased it. That’s when I decided to say farewell to Windows operated computers. I went to the “dark” side and purchased a 13” MacBook Pro. The first thing I did after booting the machine was download the then-current Macintosh version of Scrivener. That was almost two and one-half years ago, and it has been bliss.

But what about the tutorials? Well, I thought because there were so many new features in the Mac version, and I was still learning how to use it, I would keep writing them. Since downloading Scrivener, all my writing projects are created in Scrivener. It is my personal file cabinet (click image for a larger view).

Scrivener Binder aka "The File Cabinet." Image Courtesy of Rebeca Schiller

Scrivener Binder aka “The File Cabinet.” Image Courtesy of Rebeca Schiller

The file cabinet was inspired by how social media guru Michael Hyatt uses Scrivener. Thanks to his creative take on organization, he has turned me into a maniac on how I arrange all my Scrivener projects within one project. As you can see, everything I write is here—all neatly categorized and easy to find.

And that sums it all up. I hope Scrivener becomes as an important writing and organizational tool for you as it is for me.

  15 comments for “The Story Behind the Tutorials

  1. MelanieSumner
    March 13, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    I love this idea, but when I tried it, my imported project slid in as a sibling file instead of a subfile.  Mine looks like this:
    I want to put all my writing in a “File Cabinet.”  What am I doing wrong?  Thanks, Melanie

  2. March 14, 2014 at 8:10 am

    MelanieSumner  When I imported everything, it all went under the trash can and had to move them. What I did was I selected all the files and dragged them up into the draft icon (what I renamed the the file cabinet). You’ll still need to arrange things the way you like them and change the folders into icons or tint them.

  3. MelanieSumner
    March 14, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    RebecaSchiller MelanieSumner  Does this mean that “File Cabinet” is truly the only “New Project” created, and your various writing projects are folders with the project “File Cabinet”?

  4. MelanieSumner
    March 14, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    RebecaSchiller MelanieSumner  If you decided to start a new novel today, how would you create that in your File Cabinet?

  5. March 14, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    MelanieSumner RebecaSchiller  The File cabinet was created by importing all my different Scriv projects into one. What you want to do is File->Import->Scrivener Project.

  6. March 14, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    MelanieSumner RebecaSchiller Good question!  I would start with a new folder and doc file within that project. But if it was a novel that was very heavy with research, I might start a new project altogether. The way I have it right now it includes everything, but I might break it down to have The Blog File cabinet. The Freelance Writing Cabinet and the Novel Cabinet. I have to fool with it a bit and do some spring cleaning.

  7. MelanieSumner
    March 15, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    RebecaSchiller MelanieSumner  Thanks.  You’ve given me some great ideas.

  8. July 13, 2014 at 11:51 am

    There’s something I don’t get: What prevented you, when you were using MS Word, from using the same folder-and-subfolder organisation, using File Explorer?

  9. July 13, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Sinocelt I did and I had so many of them and different versions of the documents getting misfiled that it was a mess. No more with Scrivener.

  10. July 13, 2014 at 11:55 am

    RebecaSchiller Sinocelt

    Wow! Superfast answer! Thanks! But what makes misfiling harder on Scrivener?

  11. July 13, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Sinocelt RebecaSchiller As I said above my filing is not the best. I had so many open projects: Blogs, freelance writing, Novel, short stories, beta reading, that it was getting kind of unwieldy. Sometimes I was writing a blog post in the wrong project.  So I decided to have one HUGE project with all the smaller projects in one. In other words, one virtual file cabinet. It’s worked well with the exception of the novel. I discovered that for compiling purposes it’s better that it has its dedicated project.

  12. July 13, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    RebecaSchiller Sinocelt
    Once again, thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I guess I should try out Scrivener to grasp the difference; as it stands, I still don’t understand what makes it easier (or rather, less potentially confusing) to create one huge project with smaller projects inside compared to creating one folder-huge-project with subfolders-smaller-projects inside.

    What got me interested in Scrivener, by the way, is the tools to organize stuff inside a text (as in, chapters, scenes, even characters, etc.). That I can wrap my head about. :oP

  13. July 13, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Sinocelt RebecaSchiller You can set it up that way in Word and within the directory, but if you work with a lot of documents, as I do, you’ll have a lot of windows opens. With respect to the project that’s specific to the novel, I have my draft section and the other section is for all my research that I can import, plus my characters bios, a photo gallery of locations, interiors, etc. That means it’s all within reach and I don’t have a dozen of windows open for PDFS, images, sticky notes. It’s all right there and just one window open.

  14. July 13, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    RebecaSchiller Sinocelt
    Ah, I finally get it. Though I don’t have many windows opened and do use a folder tree similar to what you’ve shown us, it only displays folders and zip files. So to access a PDF, for instance, I still need to click on the subfolder containing that PDF. It takes only an instant, but even an instant can be a long interruption when you’re trying to follow a train of thought, so I can see how Scrivener has the upper hand there. Thank you for your time and patience.

  15. July 13, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Sinocelt RebecaSchiller I also see where there’s the confusion because what I showed was an example of the Binder (or what’s equivalent to a file directory) looks with all my different projects rolled into one. The Binder is just one feature of the entire project. To the Left is the Binder, in the center is the Editor and to the right is the Inspector, which has an index card (or a document synopsis) general meta-data, and the document pane for notes and other features. So instead of opening another program like the PDF reader, I can scroll down my Binder to the research section and select that PDF document and it appears in the Editor. If I’m working on a document and I’m using a source from that PDF document instead of going back and forth, I can split the Editor and have both the document I’m writing right next to the PDF doc. 

    So let’s say, I’m working on my document and a thought comes to me that I need to check a resource. Instead of opening another document that’s strictly for notes, I can write in that document notes pane on the lower right hand side. So my notes, along with that one text file is one place.

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