My son recently described my mind as a tombola drum revolving with the door open. Lots of thoughts going round – no clue as to what was going to drop out next. He added something along the lines that all the ‘5’s and ‘0’s were gone – so no prizes left – but we can ignore that as ‘hilarious teenage humour’. Nevertheless, the analogy it’s regrettably a good observation that my thinking, whilst constant, is somewhat random and disorganised.

IMG_1880My desk is usually a mess of post-its, index cards, notepads and printed drafts of multiple projects. Unfortunately, with large pieces of writing, I now seem unable to hold all ideas and threads in my head and repeated attempts at re-filing where I’ve got to, only helps move me forward for a short while – the file I create doesn’t seem to resemble my thinking (well it wouldn’t if one is neat, linear and static and the other is a moving jumble). Worse, when I’m needing to switch between projects or activities, I waste time picking up the traces of where I left off – And heaven help me if, in the meantime, someone has ‘tidied my desk’ – for I need it laid out, in all its messy glory, to remind me what was going on in my head.

highres-scrivener-logo-300x300So, I thought it was time to take the plunge and give a writer’s tool called ‘Scrivener’ a go, as it seems designed around the enviable organisation tools more experienced writers sometimes elude to.  Scrivener has been developed to help organise, plan and edit large complicated writing projects, from novels to academic papers – This 9 minute video by Scrivener’s developer, Keith Blount gives a great overview of its main features.

My main fears about experimenting with it, were that I might waste time, money and effort and manage to get into an even bigger pickle, all at the same time. So, discovering I could download a ‘free trial’ for 30 days use, I decided to start with one of my more complicated blog drafts, rather than the 60,000 words of memoir spread over 12 documents.

I haven’t set about learning it systematically (no surprise there..) but rather taken the ‘learn-as-I-go-along’ approach. I do want to get to grips with its many features over time, as I suspect it will teach me much about tried and tested ways to approach large writing projects.

After my first 7 days I’m pleased to report:

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I then took the plunge and set about uploading my memoir:

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 13.05.18

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Scrivener does come with an interactive tutorial, manual and  You-Tube help videos.


I spent about an hour on the interactive tutorial before deciding there was too much to take in without having a go, so started by watching + pausing + copying the introduction to the basics on You-Tube:

(For the Windows version, watch here)

The help and tutorials available on-line are extensive so I’m not going to get into details of all the steps I have been through. However, I couldn’t confirm whether it was possible to upload multiple documents, of an existing project, before I started – another blogger even suggested that I first combine them all in Word (enough to put me off altogether..), but this is NOT necessary and frankly very quick and easy with Scrivener:


From the top menu, select:

File ▷ Import ▷ Files

Screen Shot IMPORTSelect multiple files by holding down the cmd key (or cntl key on windows) whilst clicking on your chosen files using your mouse – highlighted in blue on this picture – then click import (bottom right button – also blue – on this view)

Screen Shot BINDERYou will then see your documents appear in your binder (left of this second picture)

If later on you want to import more documents to the same project, you use the same process (File ▷ Import ▷ Files) and Scrivener will add the files as separate folders underneath your existing folders.

In SUMMARY, the story so far is : I’m loving Scrivener and the organisation it brings without imposing a linear way of thinking and likely to buy it at the end of my free trial