Disappointed and switching back to Word

I have been using Scrivener for one month after buying it on Dec 1.

I like scrivenings mode, note features, hyperlinking, but hate all the bugs and lack of WYSIWYG editing. The compiler is pretty much unusable. I’ve wasted so much time learning this software, I’m sure I lost at least 10,000 words in productivity in the past two weeks. In the last three days I have become so irritated with it, I decided I’ll have no choice but to switch back to Word.

The biggest problem is, the UI and font handling is absolutely screwy. Second deal breaker is, Scrivener can’t output to CreateSpace properly. It can’t do left/right layouts which is essential for a print book. As far as I can tell, the only option is to output header/footer centered or left-justified on both facing pages. That will look amateurish. See the attachments.

Below are my CS print layouts exported from Word to PDF. Page # on a chapter page is bottom/center, right page is left/center. On the next image, page #s hug the inner margins. This is all done with a Word layout. I could get by with a simpler layout with Scrivener Compiler, but that’s beside the point. It’s advertised as a complete solution.

I could continue using Scriv, then export to Word, replace all styles with the Word template. But I bought the software on the premise that it could do multiple output formats, and it can’t… In fact, editing is painfully bad too, on top of that. The editor is so buggy you can’t even change the font scale without having to minimize/restore the window. I edit at about 150-175% due to the DPI. I like to write with handwritten script-sized text since I edit inline.

Maybe the Mac version is better? That doesn’t help me since this software was advertised to do certain things and it just can’t do them. That’s a disservice to Windows customers. I find this Windows version almost unusable. I would only use it if employed by a company that required it on the job. Personally, and sadly, Word is better, and not just because I’m used to it. I spent 4 weeks with Scriv, and I’m fed up with it… Don’t mean to complain so much, but I regret buying it. I feel that it was false advertising, that it does not do what it claimed to do in the videos and promotional pages. Bottom line: It takes me out of my story by being so difficult to use, distracts me from my writing.

I think the best thing is to use Scrivener as the developers intended: as a writing, drafting, organising, structuring tool; and then, as they have always suggested, to use other software for word processing- layout and suchlike. I use Nisus, but as you have Word already …

And to try it, for free, for a month, before purchasing, via the free full featured trial versions listed on the front pages.

I was quite shocked to read in the first paragraph of the tutorial:

“It is primarily intended to be a first draft tool—although it is possible to complete a project that requires only basic formatting—such as a novel or short story—in Scrivener, often you will want to take your draft to a dedicated word processor or layout program for final formatting.”

NOTHING on the beautiful website told me that I would have to return everything to a real word processor to finish the project. The whole point was to get away from those programs.

From the main Scrivener page:

The fact that it has so many options for exporting means that it’s up to you to figure out how best to include it in your workflow.

Also, “real word processor?” Scrivener isn’t a word processor, so it doesn’t have to worry about being a real one or not. It is what it is.

I’ve written several technical books and papers in Word over the course of my career. For getting the first draft out, Scriv cannot, in my experience be beat. Sorry to hear your experience is different.

I’m with the OP. I tried to use Scrivener, wanted to use it (after all, I paid money for it) but it’s far too cumbersome. I’ve gone back to Word, too. It gets out of my way and lets me do my job instead of imposing a foreign mindset on the creative process.

Out of curiosity: why didn’t you use the free trial before buying? When I parted with my money, it was because I wanted to use Scrivener after I had used it for an extended period (nearly 30 days of writing).

Trying not to get too defensive here, but what is the job that Word gets out of your way and lets you do? Organizing reams of notes, for instance, or material from the Web? Drafting and rearranging sections of text? I wouldn’t think so, so I’d assume that what you want is just to sit down and write. Can’t blame you for that.

Scrivener will seem like a “foreign mindset” if you’re not used to organizing and beginning your writing in this way (and there’s no reason why you should be; there are all kinds of ways to work). But for those who do need to do note-taking and organizing before pouring out the words, Scrivener seems like a Godsend.

From an outrageously relevant blog post by author Briar Kit Esme:

briarkitesme.com/2016/04/08/scr … #more-2725

The first thing you need to know about Scrivener is that it is not MS Word and it is not a WYSIWYG word processor.

The second thing you need to know about Scrivener is that it is not MS Word and it is not a WYSIWYG word processor.

And the third thing you need to know about Scrivener is that it is not MS Word and it is not a WYSIWYG word processor.

Many of us have said the same & similar, in many posts in past years, only to be met with the same reaction: (again, Briar Kit has the definitive word)

If you take just one piece of advice from this article, take this: do not expect Scrivener to work like Word and do not waste time trying to make Scrivener work like Word. Bin everything that Word has ever conditioned you to believe or do and open up your mind to a world of infinite possibilities.
Thank you, Briar, and forgive me for lifting quotes from your blog … but… you said it so well!

As for myself, I am an amateur fiction author who retired from a career of rural newspaper publishing, editing, and writing. Fiction writing is far more fun, but much less far-fetched. It’s unbelievable what folks get up to in real life; you’d never believe it if it were presented as fiction!

Anyway, in many conversations with amateur & aspiring authors in various forums, there is a “concrete mindset” that cannot accept any other way of writing than sitting down with Word, setting up style sheets and fonts and margins and indents and line-spacing… until it resembles the printed page they wish to see their novel imprinted upon.

Using Word, they start at the beginning, hammer the keys down through the middle, and finally arrive at the end. Linear, and in perfect page-composition layout. One amateur author I know who has many dozens of self-published novels online is so anal-retentive about this process that he will actually re-write paragraphs down through the document if the line ending within a paragraph ends badly, i.e., as a “widow,” a single word hanging by itself. This, while writing the draft!

Any attempt to persuade folks of this mindset that content and appearance are two totally different things, and one should never influence the other, falls on deaf ears.

Scrivener is a unique tool for crafting a draft; it’s a toolkit and database and organizer and assembler. It’s the writer’s equivalent of a software programmer’s Integrated Development Environment tools.

Word is none of that.

(I equate writing a long document with Word to building a house with a dull, rusty hatchet, but that’s just my opinion.)

As a “just sit down and write” writer, I will tell you that I loathe Word. I have found no writing, editing, or organizational tasks (as opposed to formatting tasks) at which Word is superior or easier to use than Scrivener.


Happy to be be quoted and credited—writers don’t always the credit they deserve.

Thank you.


Briar Kit

Revision tracking from multiple reviewers. That’s about it.

Word makes it too bloody easy to faff about with formatting and distract oneself from the actual writing. If the style sheets were proper stylesheets per some of the DocBook editors I used to use, where you literally couldn’t mess with formatting, it was defined by the stylesheet attached to the structural element your text was currently associated with, that would be one thing, but that free-for-all mess of formatting plus structure plus whatever is just ugly once you’ve turned the corner into a more structured way of writing. (DocBook, for the record, isn’t quite flexibile enough.)

FWIW, the last time I had to deal with that I imported the whole mess into Scrivener and sorted it out there. Which, I understand, won’t work for every situation, but it did minimize my exposure to (ugh) Word.


Sorry to hear that the OP was disappointed. Although, of course, everyone has their own workflows.

For example, I’ve never been able to finish NaNoWriMo with Scrivener. It just doesn’t work for me. The ability to write in chunks drags in the desire to edit on spot, and there you go. So, the only way I was able to tackle this kind of challenge is open LibreOffice Writer or even Notepad or whatever gives me a format-less blank page, and start at the beginning, and go on without looking back. The only thing I can do with Scrivener during the marathon is organize research data and backstories and character profiles and calendars/timelines and… well, you get the picture.

And then, after this crazy first draft is finished, I’d import it into Scrivener, break it into chunks and start chewing. :slight_smile:

I wholly agree that formatting for publishing is not Scrivener’s main point. And in any case, you know, compared to getting the book finished & edited, even manually formatting it for publishing is such a pleasant walk in the sunny fields… :slight_smile:

Literature & Latte is up front about Scrivener not being publishing software. It’s an organizational tool for thinking, research and writing.
What’s missing in this discussion is the standard professional publishing (formatting) software.
InDesign. Working in Scrivener makes perfect sense if you or your publisher use InDesign. Formatting in Scrivener is unnecessary.

You can crank Word or Scrivener or any program around with a lot of work and get a final output, but that’s the hard way.
In any case, output and input is always PDF, between programs or for the printer.
You will find lots of people linking programs together in complex ways. Lots of work.

Research and sources Zotero
Writing Scrivener or LaTeX if in the sciences
Publishing InDesign
Output/transfer Acrobat

You can easily use Scrivener+[MMD|Pandoc] to get LaTeX, so no need choose: Scrivener for Writing. 8)

Hm, what is wrong with Scrivener’s composition mode — it is as pure a blank page as is possible, nothing but you and a page floating in the inky blackness…

Probably nothing. It’s just that I have already gotten used to the special “editing mode” mindset that I switch into automatically the moment I start Scrivener. A Pavlovian response of sorts. :slight_smile: This mindset is too useful for me to suddenly start breaking it for no good reason. Like I said, everybody has their own writing routine that works for them best. Nothing wrong with that, imo.

As you said, whatever works for you…

As a note to the forum, though, the nature of Scrivener is that you may well find you prefer one set of options for research and planning, one for actual writing, and a third for editing. (And possibly even a fourth for final polishing and output preparation.) This is why Scrivener allows you to save your preferred layouts. See the Window-> Layout -> Layout Manager to get started.

I actually keep a separate Notetaker project for raw research notes, and do my first-pass organization and planning there before dragging to my main project for the actual writing. (Although this is in part because I don’t yet want to expose my main writing project to the iOS beta, which is where I’m doing most notetaking these days.)



Now this is useful, Katherine, thanks.

Something I hadn’t noticed, and very good for situations.