Do any of you keep ALL your writing in one project?

I know Scrivener is designed to be used on a project by project basis, but there is a lot to be said for keeping all your work – from journal entries to blog posts, manuscripts, poems quotes, etc etc – all in one place.

This is something that Ulysses encourages, and it’s totally possible to use Scrivener in this way too. Do any of you use it like this, or do you stick to individual projects?

It’s very much a matter of personal taste.

For me, it would make no sense whatsoever to put a series of short stories about Edo period Japan in the same project as a series of technical articles about machine learning. For someone whose work tends to center around a few closely related topics, a single project might be perfect.

It also depends on the kinds of work you do. If you’re a film critic or screenwriter and like to import video into your research folder, that project would quickly get hefty enough that you might not want to deal with it when you’re composing haiku.


I toyed with the idea, but it gets unmanageable pretty quickly. And frankly, there is also a lot to be said for having separate .scriv files for even relatively small projects. I do use a .scriv file as a log of all my activities. As a fairly senior academic, I do now a lot of academic senate service, mentoring of students, other kinds of committee activities, scholarly service as academic editor and reviewer, beyond my research and main teaching. Which means that is not easy to track all these things down when I am up for merit increase or promotion unless I keep a good log of all these activities. Scrivener is perfect for that. When I started doing this, I thought: “Why don’t I just put everything into this project?” But for me it became rapidly unmanageable. Way too big of a project.

I have all my Scrivener projects in a designated “Scrivener projects” folder in Finder (in my Dropbox folder) and have a subfolder where I put the projects I want to sync with my iPad . That way I can use both Spotlight and Alfred when I search for something. It also gives me the possibility to organize my writing in different subfolders (that don’t sync with the iPad) e.g. academic papers, short stories, book manuscripts, etc.

If you want to put all your writing into one large project, one factor worth bearing in mind is backup time delays. As most Scrivenati are aware, in the course of writing or editing a project Scrivener only opens or saves a few files from the project from or to disk at any one time, so there’s unlikely to be any significant slowdown there. But backup of course is different: all of your project with all its constituent files will be saved in one go. If your project is large, and all of it is being saved to disk or the cloud as a backup, you may encounter significant delays if - for example - you have your Scrivener Preferences set so that you backup on project-close, as I do.

In my opinion, a second factor to be considered is security from corruption. Unrivalled as Scrivener is at offering safeguards against such a risk, there’s little doubt that several less large projects are likely to be safer in this respect than a single very large one.

Edit: like lunk, I keep all my Scrivener projects in a single Dropbox folder, with my projects for syncing to my iPad in a sub-folder within it. From the point of view of convenience and the benefits of “keeping everything together”, that seems to me to be almost as good as keeping all my writing in a single project - with fewer of the disadvantages.

What this seems to boil down to me is: where your pieces of writing are related in some way, for example where they use the same body of research, or, say, they’re blog pieces written in a similar style or on similar subjects, I’d keep them together in a single project. But where there’s little or no reason to link them, I’d put them in separate projects (assuming they’re pieces of writing long enough to justify it).

Exactly my conclusion. For any of my journalistic writing that needs structuring of some kind, generally anything >700 wds or so, I use separate projects, But for the short previews I write for multiple publications using the same base of research material, I maintain a single project containing all the press releases, interviews and other research material. At the end of the year, I toss that project and start a new one, as I did last week.

After I write in Scrivener, all completed drafts of whatever length go out to google docs or Pages (when collaboration is involved) or Wordpress, or are exported to .docx for submission to editors. I export a .docx or .rtf version of each completed draft for storage in appropriate folders in the Finder/Dropbox.

I really appreciate Scrivener’s versatility in this and many other respects. For a long time, I just used the Finder and IAWriter or Pages for the short pieces, which I wrote as often on my iPad as my Mac. Then iOS Scrivener arrived, and I just found that even for short pieces, I preferred working in Scrivener (both iOS and Mac versions) because of its many design felicities. So now I pretty much use it for generating all my writing that’s more than just a note. (Those end up in Notes. ).