Sunday morning with Scrivener

using Scrivener
Full screen distraction-free writing in Scrivener.

 I like to keep things as simple as possible, which why I’ve pared down the pens and watercolours in my art bag to the bare minimum. It’s the same with writing. You might assume that pen and paper would be the ultimate in simplicity but if you’re like me and you go over and over your text trying to make it clearer and more succinct you can end up with an almost illegible mess of crossings out and rewrites.

Notes for my 'Walks around Ossett' booklet.
Notes written while researching my ‘Walks around Ossett’ booklet.

Lamy Safari fountain pen

Of course I’m talking about writing for books and magazines here; this online diary has to be more rough and ready!


Corkboard view in Scrivener
Corkboard view in Scrivener

My favourite program for distraction-free writing is Scrivener, from Literature and Latte, the people behind the Scapple mind-mapping program that I was using yesterday. Scrivener enables you to bring together your research and rough drafts. A useful option is the corkboard with post-it notes representing each section. You can easily rearrange them to improve the flow of your story.

This morning I’ve got my Onward Christian Soldiers Scapple mind-map propped up in front of my iMac and I’m writing a rough draft of each of the aspects of the story. I’m in distraction-free mode because I don’t want to get bogged down with my research. I’ll come back to that later when I’ve got the flow of the story established. If I can’t get readers hooked, all those names, dates and places won’t be of much interest anyway.

Over the last month I’ve occasionally updated friends on how I’m getting on with my article – the equivalent of an elevator pitch – and I find myself going back to certain vivid anecdotes. It’s a good test that if I find a story interesting, my Dalesman readers will probably find it interesting too.

pencil 3b


Scrivener is described by Literature and Latte as ‘your complete writing studio’ but it’s worth going for Scapple too you’re doing a lot of research and brainstorming.

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  1. Looks interesting! I could never write anything very long with a pencil and paper. My mind would get too far ahead of my ability to keep up! Writing longhand is frustrating. I love my keyboard! 🙂

    1. Yes, it works the opposite way with drawing. I’ve never quite been able to feel at home drawing with a graphics pad, though I find it useful when I’m working on a scan of my artwork in Photoshop. For walks books I use a mini-casette recorder, which also picks out some of the background sounds that I mask out as I’m walking, such as birdsong and rippling water. But it gives me something to start with back at my keyboard and it saves having to punctuate the walk with stops to scribble my notes.

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