Scrivener – my best writing buddy

scrivenerPlotter or Pantser, sooner or later I reckon you could do with Scrivener.

Plotters plot, and Scrivener lets you plot with a Corkboard feature, which has little index cards that you drag around. Each card represents a scene or chapter or chunk of your writing, and if you move it around, that chunk of writing moves around seamlessly in your manuscript. Magical.

Pantsers ….pant(?) well, no, they don’t. Pantsers do things by the seat of their pants, like me, but that way chaos lies. Chaos is messy, much like my housekeeping skills (so I guess there’s a bit of a clue there), but you can’t live in chaos forever. Well – I can’t. And that’s where Scrivener comes in.

My messy manuscript got loaded into Scrivener a while ago, split into scenes, colour coded (yes there are many opportunities to play and procrastinate with this software), and is now more manageable and even has a structure.

I’d been using the Index card method  suggested by Alexandra Sokoloff, and it made a lot of sense – but so unwieldy!

I even took a photo of my index cards. Who’s got space for all that on their wall?

plotting using index cards

The only drawback to Scrivener so far? My computer is terminally slow, and Scrivener is quite a hungry beast, so things don’t happen nearly as quickly as I’d like them to. Plumber Husband is working on moving all our data up into the ether, so the speed problems might be sorted out. Or is that the wrong sort of memory? Tut, tut, completely clueless.

And talking of procrastination, Scrivener  can randomly generate some pretty cool names too, which is always worth a play. These are Scandinavian/Swedish.

scrivener name generator, random name generator

It’s available for Mac or PC, and like any new software, there’s a steep learning curve, but you can skip through the tutorial to find the bits you need, I don’t use all the features anyway.  The Corkboard is so easy to use,  you can just jump right in after the tutorial and start moving those scenes wherever you want.

And the best bit – there’s a free 30 day trial, which is any 30 days, so why not give it a go?  Let me know what you think of it.



Making Time for NaNoWriMo- or why kids know better than us.

how to make timeWith NaNoWriMo just days away, we could all use a bit more time.

But we have full lives: we have tasks to juggle, schedules to keep, children to ferry around.

There is no more time.

And that’s when you need to see things from a child’s point of view.

I was walking my daughter to school, late (again), when we came across a  friendly-looking  cat. Of course, my daughter wanted to stroke it, but I rushed her along saying, “Not today, we don’t have time.”

My daughter, being my daughter, didn’t listen, and as I marched on, she stopped and took the time to pet the fluffy feline. Moments later, I heard her running to catch up with me, out of breath, saying , “See. I did have time.”

And the thing is – she was right.

She made time to stroke the cat.

And then she ran to catch up.

We all have choices to make in our day, or tasks we could do faster or smarter. Currently, I’m choosing to spend 40 minutes every night watching The Vampire Diaries box set on our BT package. Now that’s a straight swop, 40 minutes viewing for 40 minutes writing (since I can’t watch and enjoy The Vampire Diaries on fast forward!).

But other things in my day can’t be sacrificed – the family needs to eat, I need to get the decorating done before Christmas, the laundry’s piling up – and this is where I need to do my running.

So, come November, I’m using the timer on my phone, setting a 30 minute alarm, and I’m racing through all those mundane but necessary tasks. If I don’t get the jobs done, I’ll write for an hour, then set the timer,  and race my way through it all again.

I think, by the end of November, I’ll be exhausted. But I might have my 50,000 words.

How are you going to make time for NaNoWriMo?